Sacrificial Generosity

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23

Secret to Giving? Live for the Line … Not the Dot

by
Scott Benson

Ask God to speak as you interact with today's Scripture and devotional.

“But since you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” — 2 Corinthians 8:7
“Remember this — a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty leftover to share with others.” — 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NLT)
“Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” — Matthew 6:19-20 (NLT)
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” — 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Pastor Matthew often reminds us that God doesn’t want our money; He wants our hearts so we can learn to live and give more generously. At Friends we talk about giving out of gratitude by holding nothing back. Because Jesus held nothing back in giving His life for us, we can give out of gratitude for all He’s done for us. And not just give — but to excel in the grace of giving as the apostle Paul encourages us. 

Whenever we surrender everything and give Him our best, it’s in those moments that Jim Elliott’s poignant quote really hits home: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We give to gain treasures in heaven that we can’t lose (Matthew 6:19-20).

But all too often our hearts get focused on earthly treasures that keep us from excelling in giving. Randy Alcorn’s analogy of the line and the dot serves to refocus our hearts on eternal treasures:

Our lives have two phases: one a dot, the other a line extending out from that dot. Our present life on earth is the dot. It begins. It ends. It's brief. From that dot extends the line that goes on forever. That line is eternity, which Christians will spend in heaven. Right now we're living in the dot. But what are we living for? The shortsighted person lives for the dot. The person with perspective lives for the line … The person who lives for the dot lives for treasures on earth that end up in junk yards. The person who lives for the line lives for treasures in heaven that will never end. Giving is living for the line. 

We'll each part with our money. The only question is when. We have no choice but to part with it later. But we do have a choice whether to part with it now. We can keep earthly treasures for the moment, and we may derive some temporary enjoyment from them. But if we give them away, we’ll enjoy eternal treasures that will never be taken from us.… Live for the line, not for the dot (Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secrets of Joyful Giving, p. 50-51).

reflect

Answer the questions below and write down any other thoughts and prayers to God in your Life in Rhythm journal.

  1. Reread the Scriptures listed above. How is the Spirit speaking to you? 
  2. Re-read Alcorn’s analogy of the line and the dot. When and how are you most tempted to be that shortsighted person who lives for the dot? 
  3. As you gain more perspective on what it means to live for the line, how might God be calling you to change how you invest your resources for eternity?

Go deeper (optional)

Every day you'll have an opportunity to "go deeper" into God's Word by practicing the REAP study method. Read the following scripture and use your journal and the REAP method to unpack the following scripture and apply it to your life.

2 Corinthians 9:10-15 (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-9 for context)
Learn more about reap