Not yielding control of your life to Jesus is the quencher of a Christian’s ability to flourish in Christ. You can understand the Gospel, actively pursue Christ with the best spiritual disciplines, and love Him with all your heart, yet keep Him outside of your life. Relinquishing control is a major determinant for Christ pouring His life into you. Consider the example of how giving financially to your church can dampen your walk with Christ. Giving for Christians is often motivated by tithing. Giving to your church is good, but does it reflect what God wants you to give? An activity that is often promoted by ministers is to give through automatic check drafts and credit card payments. This is convenient, but does it leave a place for God’s direction? Both of these reflect, for the most part, your control on what is given. You have found a percentage, a dollar amount, or a convenient way to give that puts your giving into automatic drive. Ceasing to seek God’s direction each time you give can cause your giving to move from God-control to self-control. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 says you are to give out of generosity – not from compulsion: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”(NIV) You may have prayed in the past about what you are to give, but what is God’s involvement each day in what you now are to give?
The beginning of giving should be the recognition that all you have is God’s and everything comes from Him. God’s ability to direct, much less be in control of, your giving is diminished once you have established a percentage, an automatic draft, or a pre-determined budgeted amount? Your challenge as a Christian is to be enlivened by God’s work and presence, so that you can understand and respond to His will. You must be willing to let go of control, while letting God be God. Learn to be sensitive to God’s leadings and the opportunities He places before you each day. Being on automatic pilot can make giving easy, but it can also desensitize you to what God wants you to give.
Giving is one example of how your control can quickly replace God’s control while trying to serve Him. The disciples demonstrated their desire for control by repeatedly encouraging Jesus not to get sidetracked by the needs of the people following Him. The disciples defined God’s work on their human level. They failed to grasp the concept of being sensitive to God’s leading instead of their predetermined objectives. Jesus redefined discipleship in Luke 9:57-62: “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.’” (Are you willing to live your life for God in such a way that the things of this world might be put at risk?) He said to another man, ‘Follow Me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” (Are you willing to place your priorities second to God’s priorities?) Still another said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (NIV) (Are you willing to risk relationships for God’s calling in your life?) These examples demonstrate agendas which excluded God’s direction and control. Jesus desires total Lordship, so that He can lavishly pour His life into you.
Pray into each day. Ask God to use and direct you. Be sensitive to what God is doing and what He has for you. Take God off auto pilot and allow Him to direct not only your giving, but also your schedule, activities, and relationships. Your God is a mighty God who desires not just to be a part of your life, but also Lord of your life.
2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (NIV)
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