It's Not the Living, But the Giving

John Stott said that what dominated the mind of Christ was not so much the living of His life but the giving of it. Which of these is your mind consumed by? Another thought provoking question.

It seems to me when I think about people I know over a broad spectrum of life that most of them are consumed by living life. There is of course nothing wrong with thinking about summer fun, and ballgames, and picnics, festivals and graduation celebrations. Many of these things are on my list of things to do as well. However, as I meditate upon what Stott said I have to ask what my life is made of. What am I about?

When I first became saved I was all about the living of life. Things were very important to me, I spent my weekends at the mall, I had to be home to watch my favorite television shows. I think I had 60 pair of shoes! I was out for me, what I could get, and how I could live the best life possible.

When I began to grow in my faith I discovered a desire to serve. Sadly, that desire was still more about me and about being recognized than it was about God. After time, enough growth took place that I realized that was the wrong motive. I wish I could remember exactly when that switch was hit, and the change took place... I do remember thinking I would take the classes offered at church on theology. I wanted to be prepared for whatever God would want me to do.

I vividly remember when I realized a deep and yearning desire to give and serve. This was not a snap decision nor was it a lightweight thing. I sat on the steps alone, and prayed asking God to reveal to me if this weight I was experiencing was the call to serve, the call of ministry. It was a time of heavy contemplation and much angst.

That is when I am conscious of my life becoming about giving instead of living. I began to realize what the life of Christ was about, and it was service. The Gospels came alive in a new way as I understood that to be about serving was sacrifice. It was not about being thanked and recognized or appreciated, it was about hard work and invisibility.

Life that is Christ-centered is about giving. The giving is to be as complete on our end as it was on Christ's. So often the words of Philippians 2:1-8 come to mind:

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

When you and I reach the level of giving that costs us our lives then we have done enough.