Early in chapter 8 of the gospel of Luke, several women of distinction are mentioned by name: Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out (she witnessed the crucifixion and was the first person to see the resurrected Christ), Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward (she accompanied Mary Magdalene to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus), and Susanna (who is not mentioned in any other accounts).
Many other women remain unnamed in this passage, however, they are referenced because they all shared something in common. They ministered to Jesus and the twelve apostles traveling with Him out of their own financial means. They invested their own private wealth.
We know Jesus' needs were met because even though the Bible says He had no place or dwelling of His own (Luke 9:58), it does not say that He begged for food, clothing or shelter. His needs were met by the kindness and generosity of people like Mary Magdalene, Joanna , Susanna and others.
This phrase "out of their private means" caught my attention as I sat listening to Darryl's sermon on Easter Sunday morning recently. For a few moments, I was carried away with the thought of what an amazing privilege it would be to contribute to the Son of God's needs directly!
This morning as I processed this thought further, I wondered how I would react if faced with the opportunity to make an investment into Jesus' ministry. Walking with Him, talking with Him, listening intently to His teaching, would I offer up whatever resources I had to support Him? I dearly hope so. I hope I would not miss the opportunity. I hope I would not be stingy or cheap, but that I would give gratefully - generously - rapturously - out of a heart filled with incredible joy.
Is it so different today? Jesus' work continues with the body of Christ investing into every need expressed by the human race. I have often considered how if everyone in the body of Christ participated fully in their area of gifting, there would be no unfulfilled needs. Imagine what it would be like if we all gave in uncalculated ways - everything we have, everything we are. It would be a glorious experience to witness this kind of fullness and abundance.
So I ask myself, why am I so calculated with my investments in Kingdom work? Why do I view everything through the lens of self-interest? I do believe that every once in a while it is good for the soul to give in uncalculated, lavish ways. This means, I don't over-analyze until I can find a reason NOT to give.
Ethan, my five-year-old grandson, and I discussed giving recently. He loves it when his mom and dad set out surprises on holiday mornings. We decided it would be fun to surprise them back. Ethan came up with gift ideas for each of his family members. I helped him by purchasing the items and delivering them secretly to his house. Together we tucked them away and we decided he would chose the moment to give them out! Oh, the excitement this caused in his little heart! (He could not help telling them that he had a secret and they were not to look in the closet!!!)
Ethan reported back to me the details of his giving adventure on Easter Sunday afternoon. His face radiated joy as he talked! It was so much fun to watch! I am praying that this meaningful experience will ignite a desire to give thoughtfully and generously as he grows older.
Just like Ethan, I want my face to radiate the same unpretentious joy at the prospect of giving! I don't want to miss opportunities to invest in Kingdom work. I want to invest regularly, purposefully, with a happy heart. I also like the challenge of giving out of my own personal resources. I am motivated to make more to give more - for all the right reasons!
God, use me to fulfill your promise in Philippians 4:19, And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
*BTW - If uncalculated is not a word, I agree with Darryl who frequently says, "Who made Webster God?" I know you get my meaning!