Joyous Extravagant Generosity

Text: 1 John 3:16-17
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? (NRSV)

In the Gospel of John 3:16 we see these words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  Now in the first letter of John 3:16 we read, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” If you are one who believes in coincidences, this is a pretty amazing one.  Both passages hold up God’s generosity seen in the gift of his Son to a world that had turned against him, as the ultimate example of true godly love.

It appears that in God’s economy, love translates into extravagant generosity.  Because of God’s love for the world, he gave himself freely in the person of Jesus.  He laid down his life in one of the most horrifying deaths; nailed to a cross.  And God did this for the benefit of someone else; you and me.  God did this for the purpose of offering us eternal life.

John, in today’s text, is now saying that those who are the “children” of God ought to show that same kind of extravagant generosity as an act of God’s love toward others.  He literally says, “…we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”  

John may be speaking literally here and expecting Christians to give the ultimate sacrifice for one another but, he follows up with a question that leads me to believe that his real focus is on making sure that others have what they need to live a life with all their needs met.  “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?”

John is focused on that same Kingdom economy that God expresses through his love, extravagant generosity.  If we are to love like God, we are to be generous like God.  If we have worldly goods and see someone else in need, the expectation is that God’s love in us will motivate us to joyous extravagant generosity.  I say joyous extravagant generosity because our giving is motivated by God’s love for us and in us and what could be more joyous than that?

Does the love of God reside in you?  Are you filled with the joy of God’s love?  Have you adopted the economy of God’s Kingdom?  Do you know the joy of extravagant generosity born out of God’s love?

Pray with me:

God of love and God of generosity fill me with your love until I want no more.  Allow your love in me to be poured out to others in need through joyous extravagant generosity.  AMEN.

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