Strong Convictions, Generous Heart
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable.
Mere religion makes us more self-righteous (that’s why some of the most deplorable human beings in global history were the most religious) life with Jesus makes us more generous.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have deep convictions. That doesn’t mean that we’re not principled or that we don’t stand up for justice or fight for what’s right. Being generous hearted doesn’t mean that we’re ignorant or doormats or foolishly agreeable to any and every proposal or idea that someone throws our way.
Jesus shows us how to hold deep convictions with a generous heart. Jesus held deep convictions about sin. He refused to overlook it or sweep it under the rug or minimize it. He doesn’t duck hard issues.
Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in the entire Bible. He gets uncomfortably personal when it comes to money. He’s aggressive about calling us to live a life of sexual purity and holiness. His teachings on the essential nature of living a life of service are like fingernails across the chalkboard in our cultural milieu of consumerism and comfort.
Jesus is bold in his convictions, teaching audaciously on all manner of subjects, as if he knows just how we should live in line with who God is and the world God has designed.
And yet how he communicated those things was always generous hearted. His statement to the woman caught in adultery is a classic case in point of his handling of the messiness of real life and working with real sinners: “Has no one condemned you?... Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and leave your life of sin.” (see John 8:10-11).
Jesus hates sin because sin is a parasite that leaches life out of people whom God loves. So he’s going to call it out, speak about it, and not avoid it.
But he’s always speaking about his convictions in a way that is FOR the people he is speaking to: “no” to adultery in order to say “yes” to real, healthy, genuine marriages. “No” to worshiping other gods to worship the real God whom Jesus has come to show us and reconcile us to, “no” to sin that serves a much greater “yes” of God’s life of love expressed in practical, specific holiness.
What do you think it means today to hold strong convictions with a generous heart? What specific convictions matter most to you? How might you grow in expressing those in ways that are more Jesus-like?