The Generosity of Jesus

Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you” — a hundred times over. He gave. As Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson shows, He gave everything.

The greatest of all gifts was Himself

“‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ These words express with rare fullness one of the finest of the traits of Jesus, his generosity. If one were asked to mention a half-dozen key words of Christian duty, he would be sure to place the word ‘give’ high in the list. One cannot read the New Testament without being halted by that word, for it occurs repeatedly, and always with an emphasis which arrests the heart. Indeed, it has been often claimed that the Man of Galilee is wild and reckless in his theory of giving. His saying, ‘Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away,’ has been to many a mystery and an offence.”

“But the exhortation need stagger no one. . . . Mortals are urged to give as God gives, and God’s giving is always fashioned and conditioned by his love. He does not give to every man the precise thing which the man asks for. He says to all of us not once but many times, ‘No,’ ‘no,’ ‘no!’ Love can never give where giving would work hurt. The mother cannot give the razor to the little girl who pleads for it, nor can the father grant his son every favor which he asks. The man half drunk who begs for a quarter on the street corner must be refused. In every case the petitioner must be dealt with according to the requirements of the law of love.”

“To write down all the considerations and qualifications which must be taken into account . . . was for Jesus a plain impossibility. It was better to throw out the great word ‘give,’ unqualified and naked, allowing it to speak unhindered to the human heart, as a word which holds in it a revelation of the mind of God. . . . When Jesus was unfolding his idea of generosity, he said: ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. . . . For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again’. . . . He says to all, ‘Freely ye have received, freely give.'”

Generous Teaching

“Jesus’ dislike of the stingy and parsimonious heart comes out in several of his parables. When he speaks of the rich man in his fine linen at his banquet table while the sick beggar eats crumbs at his gate, we can feel the hot flame of an indignant soul. When he tells of the rich man who thought of nothing but his overflowing barns and his own selfish enjoyment, there is a scorn in his language which scorches.”

“When he sees a poor widow throwing her two bits of copper into the treasury in the temple, all the money she had in the world, he does not criticize her for doing a foolish thing as most of us would have done, but he cries out in a shout which has in it the music of a hallelujah, ‘She has given more than them all.’ In a world so filled with grudging and close-fisted men, it cheered his great heart to see now and then a person who had mastered the divine art of giving.”

Poured Out

“He liked givers because he himself was always giving. . . . When he urged men to give freely, abundantly, lavishly, gladly, continually, he was only preaching what he himself practiced. He had no money to give, but he gave without stint what he had. He had time and he gave it. The golden hours were his and he gave them. He gave them all. So recklessly did he give them that in order to find time to pray it was necessary to use hours when other men were sleeping. He had strength and he gave it, with a liberality which astonished and alarmed his friends. He poured out his energy to the last ounce.”

“He had thought and he gave it. He had ideas and he scattered them. He had truth and he shared it with men. Behold a sower goes forth to sow! It is Jesus. Look at him. Watch the swing of that arm. What a generous arm! He scatters the seed upon the beaten path. No matter. He scatters the seed on the soil that is rocky. What of it? He scatters the seed in brier patches and thorny corners. He does not mind that. The seed is abundant, and he will scatter it with a prodigal hand, hoping that some of it will find the soil which is fertile and which will bring forth a harvest to make glad the heart of God. . . . His affection toward men flowed in a stream constant and full. His sympathy covered all classes, and no individual, however low and despised, ever appealed to him in vain.”

“Having given time and strength and thought and sympathy and love, he finally gave up his life. More than this can no man give. He was not an unwilling victim of circumstances, or the helpless prey of ungovernable political forces. . . . He gave his life consciously and deliberately. It was not snatched from him by accident or fate, but freely surrendered by a heart willing to pay the great price. . . . ‘I have power to lay down my life,’ he said, ‘and I have power to take it again.’ It was his conviction from the beginning that he came into the world to minister to men’s needs, and to give his life as ransom for many. It was only by giving his life that he could soften men’s hearts and bring a lost world back to the Father.”

Extravagant Nature

“This, then, was the earthly career of Jesus — one continuous manifestation of generous and boundless love. In his character we see not only what is possible for man to be, but we also behold a revelation of the character of the Eternal. . . . The God revealed by Jesus is the same God revealed by Nature. . . . The days and nights, the sky and sea and land, the changing seasons, all bear witness to His amazing generosity. He is prodigal in all His doings. He is lavish in all His benefactions.”

“He scatters the stars not in paltry thousands but in countless millions. He creates flowers not in numbers which we can count, but in a profusion which confuses and confounds the imagination. He always gives more than can be accepted. He throws sunsets away on eyes which do not care for them. He gives fruit trees more blossoms than the trees can use. At every feast which He spreads there are fragments remaining filling twelve baskets. He is a munificent, free-handed, bountiful, and extravagant God.”

“He runs constantly to profusion and exuberance and overflowing plenty. He fills the measure, presses it down, shakes it together, and causes it to run over. . . . He breaks the alabaster box upon our head every day we live. He spreads a table before us, He makes our cup run over. There are a thousand toothsome things to eat, and a thousand lovely things to see, and a thousand exquisite pleasures to experience, and a thousand sublime truths to learn, and a thousand good opportunities to seize — more than we can ever make use of in the short span of life allowed us. In the realm of nature He is assuredly a lavish and bewilderingly bounteous God.”

“And what He is in the world of nature He is likewise in the realm of the spirit. Jesus says, ‘Ask and ye shall receive.’ Do not hesitate to do it. No matter who you are, you may do it. ‘For everyone that asketh, receiveth.’ It is an eternal principle, deep-seated in creation and deep-rooted in the heart of God, that gifts rich and royal may be had for the asking. It is the purpose of the Christian religion to bring us to a God who is willing to give us above what we are willing to ask or able to think. The generosity of Jesus is intended to remind us of the measureless beneficence of the all-Father. His message thrills with the thought that we constantly get not what we earn or what we deserve, but what an ungrudging and open-handed God is delighted to give.”

Love Gives

“If you ask why was Jesus generous, the answer is, God is love. When was love anything but liberal? When has love ever dealt out good things with a scant and skimping and miserly hand? When Peter suggested a certain number as being enough to indicate the limits of forgiveness, Jesus told him not to count at all. Love never counts. When did a mother ever count the number of times she kissed her baby, and when did a friend ever catalogue the number of favors toward his friend, or when did a parent ever make a list of all the good things he gave his children? Love never counts. It is the nature of love to give, and to keep on giving, and then to devise new ways of larger giving, and to imagine still additional needs which may be supplied.”

“Jesus says: ‘What man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ If you are ever tempted to question the generosity of the heart of God, look at Jesus! Once in the world’s history there has lived a man whose supreme joy was ungrudging giving. He knew as no other man has ever known how much more blessed it is to give than to receive. He lived not to be ministered unto, but to minister; not to receive, but to give; not to save his life, but to pour it out for others. If generosity so great has appeared in Time, it must be because there is a generous heart in Eternity; if a grace so beautiful has blossomed on our earth, we have a right to expect the same grace in heaven.”

Excerpts from The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1908)

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