Giving Generously

What does new covenant giving look like? For starters, it is different from the old covenant in that it is not really tied to numbers or percentages anymore. New covenant giving, when truly done right—i.e., when one is motivated by the gospel and moved by eternity and what is to come—is characterized by generosity.

New covenant giving should reflect the all-transforming reality of the new covenant under the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The truth is God has done a new, refreshing spiritual work in the lives of us believers. Shouldn’t our giving be impacted as well?

But how is the believer going to be motivated to not just give, but give generously? First of all, it starts with a right understanding of what giving is. The act of giving is, as Paul calls it, an “act of grace” (2 Cor. 8:6-7). Second, believers are encouraged to follow other believers’ example of generous, sacrificial giving. In this case, the Macedonian believers modeled this powerfully:

1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; ESV).

For the Macedonian believers, giving was not an obligation, but a joyful opportunity to participate in helping the saints in Jerusalem and supporting Paul’s ministry (8:5). The Macedonian Christians did not just give; they gave over and above what was expected of them—giving to the Lord, first, and foremost; and then, to the apostle Paul and his ministry colleagues. And what is crazy is that the Macedonian believers begged to participate (8:4). Believers today are called to imitate this great example of giving and to model it for others to see, especially in and among our local churches.

Now, there is one more reason why a believer should be motivated to give and give generously. What is it? The person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul states, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (8:9). Jesus, being rich, became a servant and gave of himself for the sake of others (this includes you and me!). He is the biggest reason why believers should give generously.

We are called to give generously as a response to the gospel and as an expression of our love and gratitude to the Lord for His atoning work on our behalf. Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead for us. The truth is Jesus is the greatest giver of all time! He gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

As believers—who have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit—we should be moved to give generously to the Lord, the local church, the spreading of the gospel, and to other worthy and noble causes that glorify God and seek to promote the well-being of others, Christians and non-Christians alike. But our giving should be characterized by wisdom (i.e., investing in eternity), integrity (especially within churches and non-profit ministries and organizations), and gospel-centered joy. After all, the Lord “loves a cheerful giver” (9:7).

Deeper

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” —A. W. Tozer

Knowing about God is one thing; knowing God personally is a whole different story. The bottom line is people need to know God in a personal and intimate way. Head-knowledge and the mere approval of biblical doctrine will not suffice it anymore. We need to encounter the living God in fresh and powerful new ways.

The truth of the matter is we are all desperate for more—more of something that can quench our spiritual thirst and satisfy our spiritual hunger. We need something that can blow our minds away, changes our hearts, and transform our lives forever.

Unfortunately, our Christian gatherings can sometimes be dry, shallow, and superficial. Something needs to change. Something needs to happen…and soon.

What is this something that must happen? It is a lot simpler than we think. The answer may (or may not) surprise you. What we desperately need is a double dose of, none other than, God Himself, and a more biblical view of who He truly is.

Programs, gatherings, and special activities (as good as they may be), will not ultimately fulfill us. We need to possess a richer, more profound understanding of who God is—His character, attributes, and dealings with humankind—all of which has its ultimate fulfillment and consummation in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

But it doesn’t stop right there. We must allow that knowledge of God to penetrate the inner, most personal chambers of our heart and soul and bring about real, positive change in our lives. This will not happen instantly or naturally, but prayerfully as we strive to live in submission to, and obedience of, the Holy Spirit.

The incredibly good news is more of Him is available! But in order for us to know and enjoy Him more, we need to dive in. We need to go deeper—deeper into the oasis of His grace, mercy, and infinite love.

Are you ready to go deeper?

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez

Forgiveness

Forgiveness. What a hard thing to live out! The truth is we should forgive others, no matter who they are or what they have done. That is challenging. How can we forgive others when they use, abuse, disrespect, or mistreat us? You may be asking, “How can I forgive someone, when he or she hurts me emotionally and/or physically?”

If we are honest, forgiving others is a hard, and sometimes impossible, thing to do, especially in our own strength. I know that this will not be surprising at all, but here it goes. Are you ready? We all make mistakes! Yes, all of us. As in, every individual in the world. In other words, no one is perfect. We all mess up or blow it, one way or another.

But guess what? This is inevitable! You and I will continue to make mistakes in life because we are sinners and we live in a fallen world. That is just plain ol’ reality! I think that recognizing this and admitting our own sin is the very first step in growing and learning to forgive others.

So, since we live in a fallen and sinful world, where there is the possibility to get hurt by others, and others getting hurt by us (whether it is intentionally or unintentionally), the real question, I think, we should be asking is: how will we respond when others make mistakes or treat us in a negative way?

You and I can respond the usual (and common) way—by treating others harshly, acting out in revenge, calling them out, etc. But what good will that do? Absolutely nothing! It will just start a never-ending cycle of arguments and debates, mutual confrontation, and exchange of inappropriate, and sometimes, demeaning terms. Who wants to get caught up in that mess? Not me!

In such a case, no one wins! But there is hope because of Jesus! You and I can start living differently and make a difference, by treating others the way we would want them to treat us. This is called “The Golden Rule” for a reason—because it works!

Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12, NIV).

Do you want to be treated well? Do you want to be treated with respect, honor and dignity? (I hope you answer those questions with a big and loud, YES!) Well, do the same to others, but take the initiative and do it first. Do not wait for others to change. You and I are called to a new life in Christ first, and then we are called to live that new life with others.

To sum it up, forgiveness is hard and challenging but not impossible. God can (and will) give us the strength, courage and humility to love others and forgive them for their sin against us. If you are in Christ, you have been forgiven of your sins. Yes, that is right! You have been forgiven of your sins because of what Jesus has done on the cross. That my friend, is called grace!

If you and I have tasted the unconditional love of God, and have been forgiven much, doesn’t it make sense to do the same to others—to love and forgive them for their sin, no matter who they are or what they have done? (Yes, I just repeated what I said at the beginning, so what?).

The Apostle Paul stated, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

If we practice forgiveness, others will be dramatically impacted by our testimony and willingness to do such a thing. They will come to the realization that our ability to forgive is initiated by God, inspired by the Spirit, and fueled by the love of Jesus. And for that we praise and worship the King!

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez

**P.S. Feel free to leave a comment or prayer request below.**

Leadership is Essential

Leadership is important. Why? As John C. Maxwell well puts it, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” I agree. As a leader myself, I am beginning to realize that the success (or failure) of an organization or ministry falls on its leadership.

Leaders are important not because of the positions they hold, or the talent they have, but because of the impact, whether positive or negative, they will have on their followers and the organizations and ministries they represent and work for.

Leaders are called to serve others and not their own personal, selfish agenda. Leaders are called to…well lead, and leading will require great responsibility and effort and, at times, great sacrifice. A leader must be willing to pay the price in order to be effective in whatever he or she does.

Leaders are called to a higher standard of living for they will give an account to God for what they do (or don’t do). It is vital for a leader to live a life of integrity, service, honesty and humility.

The stakes are high and many are watching. People are counting on leaders to display a life worth imitating and following. The responsibility could not be bigger but the potential for long-lasting impact and positive change is endless.

Leaders: pray and strive to serve God and others with a humble and sincere heart.

For His glory,

Jonnathan Menendez