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Rich in Good Deeds

I am not a night owl.  I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of more conversations with my wife in the evening than I care to admit.  My college roommates used to make a game out of stacking things on top of me after I had dozed off on the couch at night.  So when our friends the Suttons invited us over for a New Year’s party, I gladly volunteered ahead of time to take the early shift and bring our youngest two kids home around 9 or 10 while everyone else stayed to watch the ball drop.

When we got there, I quickly realized that I had set way-too-low expectations for the gathering that evening.  Giant “2024” balloons had been strung up, a spread of food fit for King David’s table had been set out, and our kids started cracking open some of the 500 glow sticks they had purchased for the night.  As the evening went on, games were played, new friends had been made, and I had consumed way too much Buffalo chicken dip!  Nine o’clock came and went, and my 4 and 8 year old were having as much fun as I was, so we partied on.  As midnight struck, balloons dropped, confetti was launched, and horns started blowing.  I eventually took the younger crowd home around 12:30, while the rest of my crew stayed and danced and played until closer to 3 in the morning.

As we chatted the next day when we eventually all got up, all of our hearts were full.  All of us were feeling rich in friendship and overwhelmed by our hosts’ generosity.  In reflecting on the night, it’s been a tangible fleshing out of what Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:17-18:

“Command those who are rich in this present world…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

That night felt like a great picture of that, and gave our family some things to talk about.  About how they spent the next several days after the party vacuuming confetti off of the couches, removing stains and washing dishes.  About all the time spent in planning food, decorations, supplies and games.  About how generous they had been with their time, their money, and their home.

God’s desire for us is that we would use the riches that he has blessed us with to use them to bless others.  That we would shift our mentality from wanting to store up riches for ourselves to emptying ourselves that others might be enriched.

The verse that follows is even better: “In doing so, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Far too often we can view generosity as a box to check rather than a lifestyle to live.  We’re convinced that generosity is a good thing, but tend to view it as a cost to us rather than a gain.  Scripture, however, teaches us that generosity doesn’t go in the “cost” column but rather in the “gain” column.  In giving up our treasure on earth, we actually gain treasure in heaven.  What we give up is so very temporary, but what we gain is for eternity.

It has inspired in the Terry family some fresh conversations over what it means to be generous and rich in good deeds.  How will we be intentional about that in the year ahead?  What are the ways we can transform our earthly riches into an eternal treasure?  How can we use them to do good? And are we convinced that in doing so, it really will lead to the life that is truly life?

I’d challenge you to ask yourself the same questions.  We don’t get a second pass at this life, and before you know it, it will be 2025.  So let’s live this year with joyful generosity towards those who we share a roof with, our neighbors, friends, and the least of these around the world!