Extravagant: (adj) 1. Exceeding the limits of reason or necessity 2. Lacking in moderation, balance and restraint 3. Spending much more than necessary 4. Unreasonably high in price
Philippians 2:5-8 says: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human!Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” (The Message)
Jesus did this for you and me. Now that is extravagance.
Hopefully, it causes us to bow before Him in gratitude and praise. Here is the tricky part, though: the Philippians passage starts with this phrase: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.”
This sounds very lofty and theoretical, but how, exactly, do we put aside our own agendas and sacrifice for others? Maybe, it starts with a simple prayer every morning: “God, pour out your Spirit on me today. Use me to bless others and to glorify you.” Then, as we go about our days, we wait expectantly to see where God is at work and calling us to join Him. We make ourselves available to be an instrument of his extravagant love. We can’t do it on our own.
In The Shelter of God’s Promises Sheila Walsh asks us to think of practical ways we can share God’s extravagant love with others. I think the answer revolves around how we choose to invest our time. An investment is money that is intentionally placed where it has the best chance of bringing a return. When we choose to invest our time in loving others, the returns can be astounding. We discover unspeakable joy while we participate in unleashing God’s extravagant love on earth.
Receiving God’s love from others is also a tremendous gift. One of the greatest examples in my life happened a few years ago as my dad was living out his last days. Remembering the way friends and acquaintances in our community rallied around my family still overwhelms me with gratitude. People invested significant time to support us in tangible and spiritual ways; whether it was delivering food, helping with logistics, sharing words of wisdom or providing emotional support. Many friends also gave up a sunny Saturday afternoon to attend my dad’s memorial service, which was a true gift to our entire family. God loved us extravagantly during that painful and vulnerable time. I well up with thankfulness when I think about all of the people He used to show His love to us.
My response was to want to do the same for anyone else facing a similar situation. Since my dad passed away, I have developed extra sensitivity for people experiencing loss and feel called to reach out to them in love. God continues to bring people in my path that are struggling or grieving. He prompts me to show his love in many ways, whether it is writing a note, making a meal, sharing a meaningful scripture or song, or just being a listening ear.
The gratitude I felt for the many people who loved me well at a hard time is the same response any follower of Jesus could have at all times. He stepped out of His heavenly being and became a man who died for us. Without His sacrifice, we would be separated from God for all eternity. Once we discover this truth and give our lives to Him, it brings deep peace, joy and gratitude. What He asks in return is that we pass the love on so that others can experience His extravagance too. The best part is: He knows you and I don’t have the strength to do this consistently on our own. All we have to do is ask.
When God answers, be sure to share your own stories of giving and receiving His extravagant love!