We know “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Yet, I meet Christians every day who seem to think God is only about the do’s and don’ts of His Word–and they totally miss that any suggestion or command He may have for us was birthed out of His character of love.
I was thinking about this for two reasons:
- I heard a quote this weekend that said, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.”
- Part of our righteousness in Christ is our righteous acts–the result of imitating God’s heart and behavior.
Return the Pajamas
There’s a scripture in the Old Testament that is really very foreign to how we live today, but it sheds some light on God’s expectations of us. Deuteronomy 24 runs through a list of miscellaneous laws the children of Israel were instructed to follow. One such law said, “When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 24:10-13).
This is foreign to us because if my neighbor needs to borrow my lawnmower, for example, it’s unlikely to find me waiting outside his door for his pajamas as a pledge until he returns it. Maybe this means Christianity as a whole has grown since this instruction, or possibly this is still done in other parts of the world based on their culture. I don’t really know. But here’s what I do know:
Righteousness does what is right.
If the culture demanded that a man give a pledge in exchange for something borrowed, then it was the return of the pledge in the evening (regardless if he still needed the borrowed item or not) that blessed God.
In other words, you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving (back).
A Lack of Giving is a Lack of Loving
God’s heart is love. Therefore His behavior is wrapped in this attribute. And so should ours.
I think we need to check ourselves if we have a hard time giving anything–including our time, talents, and resources. A lack of giving is a lack of loving. And a lack of loving is a lack of God. [tweet]
You and I have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. Not only have we been given right-standing with God, but we’ve been given His nature. It’s in us! And yes, we may need to cultivate and water it while we pull the weeds of old habits and wrong thinking, but I promise, His love is in your heart. Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
So never be afraid to give anything. When you do, it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God. In other words, you’ll look like your Father.