God’s abundance to us in Christ frees us to be the kind of people who give generously.
16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
When you receive God’s generous love, and when you experience that love as a daily reality in your life, then God’s generous love will overflow from you to others. Like a full bucket spilling over – you will become the kind of person whose generous love flows out to others.
We’ve seen stories like that all through Luke (especially the woman from Luke 7, anointing Jesus’ feet). And we see it throughout Acts, and especially here with this jailer who hears the gospel and immediately takes Paul and the others to his home to wash their wounds, give them a feed, and receive instruction about the way of salvation. The whole household gets baptized, there’s an eruption of joyful celebration, and suddenly no one cares that it’s the middle of the night!
Seeing these incredible responses throughout the story of Luke and Acts reminds me that God’s saving grace is an abundance – and it’s given to be shared. There’s a freshness to these stories where people who experience God’s saving grace are moved to give generously, open their doors in hospitality, and share the love of Jesus with others. I think everyone wants to be part of something like that. A generous community like that is a sure sign of the Spirit of Christ alive in people’s hearts.
It challenges me to change my perspective about giving generously – to not think about generosity as something that is a loss to me but a gain for others. Perhaps it is a loss – it’s a loss to my pride, to my selfish wants, and to my “flesh” that is crucified with Christ. But our generosity doesn’t leave us impoverished and others filled – it’s actually an expression of the wealth, love, power, and security we share in Jesus. I think that’s what Paul was talking about when he spoke about his experience of “…having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor. 6:10). When I truly believe that, then giving won’t feel like a loss – but an overflow. The very life of Christ overflowing through me to others.
It’s that great resource we have in Christ that helps us grow to be the kind of people who are givers to others, and who are generous in every season.
Head: What makes this kind of life worthwhile – for us and for others?
Heart: How is God growing your generous heart? What’s changing on the inside?
Hands: What habits are helping you to be refreshed in God’s abundant grace to you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you that your grace is an abundance – that you have poured out your riches, and given us an inheritance that can never perish or spoil or fade. Thanks that the very life of Christ dwells in me, and that I’m brought into the fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit – a perfect community of love and generous giving. Help me to bear witness to this reality and to draw strength from you to live differently to our world, and to show people how God’s grace changes us together in radical ways. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
A song to listen to: What Love My God “…His love like a mighty flood”.
Josiah Wilson- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Springfield