Most of us might never say anything this bold; that’s too bad. Listen to Paul’s calm assertion in Philippians 1:20. “It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body.” The man doesn’t simply hope he won’t one day be ashamed when he stands before God. He fully expects to stand there unashamed because he is determined that Christ will be honored in his body.
That confidence hit me right between the eyes when I came across it again not long ago. How does one make the leap from hoping for the best to enjoying a calm expectation that I will have no regrets, make no excuses? That’s the question I’ve been asking. The answer must be biblical, it must be simple. Here’s what I’m finding in the Word:
First, I must live this life with tireless generosity. Faith that adores God wholeheartedly and loves neighbor as self has no patience with crass consumerism and self indulgence. If the gospel prescribes anything, it is that a man of God (or woman) has the inexhaustible capacity to deny oneself in the interest of others. Self crucifixion surely begins with the awareness of my own spiritual bankruptcy, but it ultimately elevates us to an increased awareness of the the needs of others.
The president of a well known Christian university recently recommended that all the students on his campus should arm themselves with guns. A respected pastor and author called him privately to challenge his theology: where do students motivated to kill in self-defense ever learn the kind of grace shown by those beloved missionaries who allowed themselves to be speared to death in the Amazon without ever firing a shot? Self defense is surely practical, but grace is lavish.
Someone has said that generosity is simply sharing something valuable with someone you value. Maybe it’s money; or time; or encouragement; or a meal; or some clothes; or a toy. It is a sacrifice that brings it’s own rewards.
You’ve heard people express regrets about money they’ve spent. “I should never have bought that car!” “I should invested with Charles Schwab instead of Bernie Madoff!” But have you ever heard anyone complain that he should have bought a car instead of giving to a Christian ministry; that she was foolish to give money to a worthy cause rather than putting it into savings? We never look back with regret on moments of true generosity because we know it’s right. It feels good even when it hurts.
We were created in the image of God. Our God is generous. That means we were created for generosity. Which is why Jesus taught, “It is better to give than receive.”
That’s my first touchstone for a confident life without regrets. It surely sounds unnatural, probably because it’s supernatural. I’ll share another key to confidence next time.
For a timely message by Cole Floyd, The Year of Living Generously, click here.
In the meantime, lift up the Cross!