Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” – Psalm 33:12
May we humble ourselves and pray for our country, that our God would once again be the LORD of our nation!
We celebrate today the freedom declared–and subsequently fought for–by a brave group of men and women. Thankfully, 240 years later, we are still free. And my fellow believers in Christ, we are free indeed! Free from the bondage of sin and the grip of death. Free to live by grace through faith in Jesus and declare His good news to the world around us. So, how are we doing with that?
I have noticed a sobering trend among Christians–that it is all about our “rights”. While I recognize and understand our need and desire to retain our freedom and the right to be able to defend ourselves and live and worship as we choose, we seem to be applying this to our everyday lives in other, more subtle ways. Take, for example, a little thing called tipping…
My husband shared an article on social media stating that Christians unfortunately aren’t known for being generous tippers. When a friend of ours shared that same article, it seemed as though all hell had broken loose–from self-proclaimed Christians. There were comments ranging from ridiculous to selfish, angry, and downright hateful. It was all about how we have the right to choose, and no one should tell us what to do or how much to give. How dare you!
But wait a minute… we are free to choose how we respond, how we give, how we spend our money. But as believers in Jesus, we must not use our freedoms to harm others or to harm our witness. How does it look to the restaurant employee, who most likely is struggling to make ends meet (we have a ministry in our area that specifically helps those in the hospitality industry with basic needs like food and shelter) when you are stingy with your tip? How does it look to the same employee when you give generously, with a grateful and joyful heart? I guarantee they notice the difference and the name of Jesus is not sullied.
And guess what? We set aside our own personal “rights” when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, picked up that cross, and followed Him. It is no longer about our own selves. It is now about Jesus, about others. How can we love Him and love others? We already love our own selves plenty.
” ‘This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.’ “- John 15:12-13
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21
We should be willing to “lay down our lives” for others. This means setting aside our own rights and feelings when they might hurt others or our testimony.
Another thing happens when we give generously and joyfully: we are blessed by it. It feels really good to share with others, even when we ourselves are struggling to make ends meet. My husband and I both work in ministry, and money is tight. Yet God makes sure we have enough to give away. It is His money, after all…
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” – James 1:17
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
God loves a cheerful giver! Don’t begrudge others. Choose to share out of the abundance that God has given you–time, talent, money–whether or not you have “extra”. I guarantee you will be blessed!
And may God bless America! Land that I love.