Jesus states how difficult it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 9:23). A rich ruler wanted to follow Jesus and the Rabbi told him that he must go sell everything he had and give it to the poor and then he would inherit the kingdom of God (Mark 10:17-27). This teaching seems harsh, but Jesus understood that the man’s wealth divided his heart. Even though he followed the law, he could not give everything up to follow Christ.
Jesus desires us to give generously. This is more difficult than the Old Testament command of giving a tithe in that there is no limit to the expectation. Jesus tells his followers to give out of what they have been given. He commends a widow’s offering of two copper coins because she gave all she had (Mark 13:41-44).
A popular modern teaching is the prosperity gospel. This theology teaches that Jesus rewards faith with financial blessing. However, Jesus left heaven and became poor. He lived a humble life and died with nothing. He honored those who valued the spiritual over the material. As His followers, we are to place our value in Him above all else. When Jesus asks His followers to give, He asks it to be a reflection of their whole-hearted commitment to Him that joyfully meets the needs of others rather than looks to what can be gained.
4. A Call to Love
As followers of Christ, we are called to a lifestyle of love. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, His teachings encapsulated a message of love. Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecuted them (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27-31). In the Upper Room, Jesus gives His disciples a new command to love one another. It is by their love that the world will know that they are His disciples (John 13:34-35). Love that is sacrificial, sincere, and not self-seeking.
Jesus illustrates practical love through the story of the Good Samaritan, where a stranger shows mercy to one in need. As His disciples, we are to look to Christ as our ultimate example of love, who bore the cross for our sins. Christlike love is not a passive response to a friend’s invitation. Rather, it is actively seeking how to reach the needs of the hardened, the weak, the unknown and the vulnerable. How have you gone out of your way to love someone recently as a response to Christ’s call to love?
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