Generosity and Contentment: How we know we’re saved
Faith alone saves but since it is invisible how do we know we are saved? Here are two concrete evidences.
Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labor who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised. Nehemiah 5:12-13
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44-45
The Reformation restored focus on justification by faith alone—faith that expresses itself in good works and good attitudes. In today’s reading we have examples from Nehemiah’s day and from the times of the early Church.
The Jews had suffered greatly through the captivity. When the exiles returned to Judah, some were destitute. Others had managed to accumulate some wealth. The poor had to sell their children into slavery to other Jews just to pay their taxes.
When Nehemiah learned about this he was furious. He called the people together and immediately rebuked those who had engaged in this abusive practice. The response was good because the loan sharks recognized that they had violated God’s law and they stood in fear of Him. Nehemiah’s bold and swift leadership averted the crisis. The wall building resumed amidst joy and unity.
In the early Church, members differed widely in their material wealth. Yet the power of the gospel and presence of the Holy Spirit so moved them that they voluntarily looked out for one another. There seemed to be no need to exhort them to share with one another, at least not at this point.
Think about it
John Calvin wrote that we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone, i.e. it is accompanied by good works like generosity and good attitudes, like contentment. Does your use of material resources reflect trust in God and love for others? Are you generous with what you have? If you have less than others, do you resent your lack or are you content with food and clothing (1 Timothy 6:6-10)? Flee from the love of money. Be as generous as you are able. Learn contentment. Saving faith bears fruit in generosity and contentment.