Do we want to resemble the Pharisees or imitate Christ?

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Today, I want to draw our attention to a way of being that never bears fruit and always stymies our growth. I’m talking about when we are stingy.

Although ‘stingy’ often refers to our use of money, the term can apply to the dispensation—or lack thereof—of any valuable commodity.

If we are stingy, we are unwilling to offer others what we have; we are sparing or scant in our sharing of something of incredible worth.

Left to our own devices, we will be stingy in the dispensation of grace. Even though God has lavished grace upon us, we often withhold it from others, especially those who have annoyed us or those we disagree with. For instance, we’re especially stingy with political opponents—we only see the worst in them and offer them no generosity of spirit. But, of course, it’s not limited to political opponents. We are stingy with many people in many circumstances.

While we are sparing, God is unsparing. While we are tightfisted, God is open-armed. Indeed, the open-armed Father of the prodigal son story (Luke 15:11-32) is the perfect example of one who is not stingy. He is downright extravagant in his dispensing of grace.

Along with the other two stories in Luke 15, the prodigal son story is told in response to the Pharisees muttering that Jesus “welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2) — i.e., he is full of grace. While the Pharisees were stingy, Jesus was generous beyond measure.

We ought to ask ourselves, “Do I want my life to resemble that of a Pharisee or do I want to imitate Christ?

The answer is simple, yet the solution can be painful. We need the Vine-grower to prune our stinginess.

Every time we are miserly, ungenerous, & Scroogelike, the Spirit sneaks in to uproot such foolishness. It’s not always fun, but if we subject ourselves to the Spirit’s cleansing power, we can eventually become like Christ in our liberal dispensation of grace.


TODAY’s ACTION: Today, when you’re tempted to withhold grace from someone—be it an annoying family member, a pesky customer, or a political foe—ask God to cut that cancerous branch out of your life. Invite the Spirit to create in you a new heart, a heart that bleeds in the same way Christ’s heart does.

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