Extravagant… meaning – Immoderate; exceeding the bounds of reason; profuse, wasteful; exorbitant. [Oxford Dictionary].
When I was a child, being a post war baby, being ‘extravagant’ was not a virtue. Whether you were extravagant with the amount of sugar you put in a drink, the amount of money you spent on clothes, or the amount of time you wasted, an extravagant lifestyle was not to be admired. Perhaps the only time extravagance was allowed was when it involved a present. Extravagance then denoted, not just your wealth, but also the value placed on the receiver.
I feel that this aspect of God, and His generous character, His willingness to always give us ‘more’ than we need, definitely needs further exploration. We have an omnipotent God, and one who is willing to pour into us over and above anything we can ask or even think. Ephesians 3:20. I believe we have an extravagant God. A God who does indeed have great wealth, and who puts great value on us His children. There is ‘no expense spared’, in the fulfilment of His purposes to make us like Jesus, ‘to conform us to the image of His Son’.
We can see His extravagance in creation, in the billions and billions of stars that are never seen, in the millions of desert and Alpine meadow flowers that live and die unappreciated, in so many other aspects of nature all around us, that are over and above that which is necessary for life to exists. But perhaps more than that, we see God’s extravagance supremely displayed in all the acts of love, about which we read in the gospels. They give us a unique glimpse into the extravagant heart of our God towards us human beings, the crown of His extravagant creation.
Let’s take the wedding at Cana of Galilee, in response to the problem of a shortage of wine, Jesus creates something in the order of 160 litres of the best wine. John 2:1-10. In response to a hungry crowd, without sustenance and far from home, He provides a meal for five thousand with surplus enough to fill twelve big baskets. Luke 9:10-17. This act of extravagance was of course then repeated with another group of four thousand people. Mark 8:1-8. (Just in case they missed it the first time!!). When the fishermen are struggling for a catch, He directs them where to fish and suddenly ‘they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish.’ John 10:6. Something of a repeat of an experience those same fishermen had had earlier in Jesus ministry, when their nets began to break and their two boats began to sink. Luke 5:5-7.
Further evidence of God’s extravagant heart is found in the language that Jesus used, and that of the apostles who wrote the New Testament scriptures. They all convey the explosively generous heart of God towards us, His family. To start with God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die for us in order that we ourselves might become His children. That is just incredible generosity, and the Apostle John reiterates this in his letter writing ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God’. 1 John 3:1. There is an extravagance and a level of generosity that is largely incomprehensible to us. (Immoderate, exceeding the bounds of reason? See the definition above). There is nothing begrudging about God, and that truth alone should release our faith.
Then we have Jesus own description of the spiritual life that He wants to give those who come to Him, ‘”From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water”. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.’ John 7:38 NASB. Paul tells us in Romans 8:37 that he had such a grasp of the power of God’s love that he could declare that even in all our trials and troubles ‘we overwhelmingly conquer’, (NASB), because of that love. And then he (Paul) tells another group of christians that not only is this a love that passes knowledge; unfathomable in its height, length, depth and breadth, but that this God of ours ‘is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that is at work within us.’ Ephesians 3:20. AV. Now that is some power that He has put to work in our lives.
So today I would like to release to God my thanksgiving that He is beyond generous. I want to break the remains of my post war mentality that there will only be just enough of whatever it is I need, if I am very careful, and a good girl. You may not have derived that mentality from your childhood, but often as Christians we do possibly think that we may have to work very hard to persuade God to release to us what we need in order to live an overcoming life for Him. As we said yesterday, Jesus has in fact paid the price for everything we need to live lives that will glorify Him, and is willing to give as we ask in faith. John 15:7,8. Also Luke 11:5-13, and 2 peter 1:3, ‘His divine power has given us everything pertaining to life and Godliness….’
Our thanksgiving to the Lord for His open and generous heart towards us will, I believe, break us free from any poverty mentality we may have, when it comes to the resource that is ours in Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power. A power that is freely given to us by the Lord ‘to work in us both to will and to do His good pleasure.’ Philippians 2:13. NASB. Once again let us take any area of our lives where we feel we ‘lack’, and let us thank God for the provision that there is in Christ, and His willingness to pour into us, by His Spirit, all that we need to be ‘more than a conqueror’ Romans 8:37. Then let us receive by faith, with thanksgiving, all that He has for us, in our current circumstances, today.