Retaliation • Devotion 5

God's Grace and Generosity
Keaton Washburn

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Mathew 5:38-42

I had the privilege of attending college in downtown Chicago. If you have been there, you know that it is quite the place. Chicago is the third-largest city in America by population and it feels like it. One of the first things that stuck out to me was the beggars on the corners. Growing up in metro Detroit, I would see people asking for money and food every now and then - usually when I went to downtown Detroit for a game. However, living in Chicago for four years meant I encountered people asking for money almost every day.

This new reality led to an internal conflict each time someone asked me for money or food. I repeatedly wondered:

“Should I give this person money?”
“What are they going to use it for?”
“What did they do to be in this position of need?”
“How much money have other people given them already today?”

Then there was one question I could not shake, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” This question literally kept me up at night. Scriptures about generosity and being a good steward repeatedly ran through my mind.

There was one specific instance where I was at the gas station and a man came up to me asking for help with some gas. Out of reaction, I apologized and let him know that I was not going to help him. Immediately, John’s words in 1 John flooded my mind, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). I went back and forth about what to do and by the time I decided to help him he was gone. I had the ability to help him, I could spare $10 but for whatever reason, my pride held me back.

As we continue in Matthew chapter 5, Jesus’ words are very simple and do not need much explanation. He says, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). What stops you from helping the person in need? As followers of Christ, we are to be known for our generosity. Are you generous? What role does your pride play in your actions and attitudes towards someone in need?

In the way that only God can make happen, two years after this initial interaction with someone asking for money at the gas station, I had a very similar situation. While pumping gas again, a man asked for gas money. At that moment, these same verses flashed through my mind. I knew what God was calling me to do. I helped the gentleman out with $10 of gas and let him know that God sees Him and cares about him. It was not a whole lot and who knows where he was going, but I knew what I had to do to be obedient to Christ. I am so thankful for that and many other times where God’s grace has given me another shot to be obedient to Him.

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