By Mark Walz
It can be quite difficult to give something of value to someone. I once made a vow to be generous with my possessions, considering them not my own but God’s. But when the time came and I was asked by the Holy Spirit to give one of my favorite jackets to a new friend, I refused. When the opportunity arose and I had a chance to live up to my vow I ran the other way. Why? Because giving and being generous causes us to hold things loosely; yet we grip them. But it also requires us to see a different truth; that there is no end to what we possess. Ours is the kingdom, and what God has there is no end. You see the sinner (the one who does not know God) thinks, ‘What if once I gave it away it was gone forever? What if I ran out of things to give? How would I replace it?’ The Christian knows differently.
Furthermore, the things we receive in return to giving and loving those close to us are meager in comparison to what we receive from loving the stranger (or loving the enemy). In fact, Jesus implies in Luke 6 that when we give to and love those whom we love already, there is no benefit! He said:
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)
You see, Jesus was challenging people to love and give even to their enemies. By doing so, you would be acting like a saint and not a sinner. You would be acting like Jesus; not worrying about where your gift went or whether your love would be received and reciprocated well. There is no fear in him or you when you do so. And by doing so, you will receive a greater reward. This is the countercultural economy of the Kingdom of God. The world gives expecting an immediate reward and is used to the meager distributions of its generosity. But, Jesus calls us to something greater; something down the road and something without fear. The reward of the Christian does not gratify here and now (for that is but a shadow and poor in comparison), but gratifies and satisfies fully when the Kingdom comes. And we are sure of it, no longer fearing the loss. There is no loss! The only loss is when we fail to love our enemies.