Thursday, May 19, 2011

Generosity vs. Grudges

"When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will had you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. And if that happens, you surely won't be free again until you have paid the last penny."                                                 Matthew 5:25-26

While Jesus' advice here might reduce the need for the legal system, I don't believe eliminating bureaucracy was the reason for this teaching. Jesus has a deeper message: when we refuse to reconcile, we imprison ourselves. Jesus leads up to this by teaching that even being angry at another makes us subject to judgment (Matthew 5:22).

This is one reason generosity is a fruit of the Spirit. A generous person is not only generous with her money, but with her love as well. If I hold a grudge against another, my hands are too full to offer gifts to God or to anyone else. I cannot praise God while resenting one of God's children. I am just a "noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1). I am just going through the motions without any substance within.

It is so much harder to hold a grudge and live in the prison of resentment than it is to let it go and be reconciled. Being generous is a life-giving attitude. The more generous you are, the greater your joy. Joy cannot live in a resentful heart, and a resentful heart can make me physically sick and certainly does make me spiritually sick. Holding a grudge holds me in a prison that keeps me from taking hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:19).

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