Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Divine Generosity

(Somewhat taken from a sermon given at Three Village Church a while back.)

Generous is not a word that we typically hear applied to G-d. But Ephesians constantly refers to G-d's riches--"the riches of G-d's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding" (Eph. 1:7-8). I think it is really easy to think of G-d in the vein of the Graeco-Roman ideal of moderation and rationality, as distant, calm, dispassionate, measured, even cold; or in the traditional fire-and-brimstone sense, as the harsh judge or strict father, even as the almighty punisher ("Smite me, o mighty Smiter!"--Bruce Almighty). It is easy to think of G-d as being like human authority figures, who give according to law and merit, sparingly, if at all.

But that is not who G-d is. He is generous beyond our comprehension, eager to lavish undeserved riches on us, his spiritually impoverished children. He has given us "every spiritual blessing in Christ" (1:3), He forgives us because of "the riches of G-d's grace" (7), calls us to "the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (18). He is extravagant! This is not some carefully meted out giving, but an overflowing from His unfathomably good character into our lives. Ephesians' epithet for G-d is "G-d, who is rich in mercy." He calls us to abundance and riches. "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . But because of his great love for us, G-d, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ . . . in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace" (Eph. 2:1, 4, 7).

Don't allow your mind to reduce G-d to a sterile abstraction, devoid of character and interest, when in reality He is fuller and richer than we can begin to conceive.

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