Lavish Gifts

Dear Givers,

“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.” (John 12:3)

Mary gave lavishly to the Lord. Jesus was nearing the point in his ministry career where he was going to give his life for all humankind. God is the giver of life, forgiveness, mercy, the necessities for survival and all good things. God’s generosity provides all that we need so that we might have life and have it “abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Mary’s generosity was the means by which she could be faithful. Lavish generosity of what God has first given us is the fruit which blesses the giver and receiver in Jesus’ name.

Pause to take inventory of what God has first given you. Are you a lavish giver?

John and Sylvia Ronsvalle of Empty Tomb, Inc., a stewardship think tank in Champaign, Illinois, cite a 2005 study that pegs the total income, from all sources, of over 700 Protestant overseas mission agencies at $5.2 billion a year. They then go on to calculate that, based on 2007 giving figures, if all American Christians tithed, “there would be an additional $161 billion available for the mission of the church.”

But that would be a difficult thing, wouldn’t it? Too many people would have to give us too many necessities, right?

Think again. Although the following figures apply to Americans in general, not just Christians, they still illustrate just how much spending in our culture is truly discretionary. The Ronsvalles report that, based on various estimates from recent years, American spend over:

  • $1 billon on over-the-counter teeth-bleaching products
  • $2 billion on scrapbooking
  • $8 billion on gift cards that are never redeemed
  • $9 billion on 3-D television sets
  • $10 billion on the Super Bowl
  • $12 billion on specialty coffees
  • $13 billion on Valentine’s Day
  • $16 billion on bottled water
  • $19 billion on video and computer games
  • $25 billion a year on lawn care
  • $29 billion on candy
  • $43 billion on pet-related expenses
  • $72 billion on carbonated soft drinks
  • $86 billion on credit-card fees
  • $5.2 billion spent on overseas mission? $72 billion on soft drinks? $86 billion on credit cards fees? You do the math. retrieved August 8, 2012

Ponder anew how the life of Jesus impacted the generosity of Mary. How is this Jesus whom you follow calling you to transform you life and increase your generosity?

Still in One Peace,
Pastor David J. Jensen

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