Open Hands by Loren Van Patten

A number of years ago my family and I began attending the church that we are currently members of and call home. Of the many joys that originally attracted us to that body of Christ and have since caused us to take deeper root in the community, perhaps the most celebrated one is their concept of open hands. A core tenant of our church is that “with open hands we want to receive all that God wants to give, knowing He wants to give us a lot, and with open hands we give it away, believing we cannot out give God.” What most captivated me about this value was the rhythm and flow it declares around God’s sovereignty: God gives, we receive, we give (and the cycle repeats). Woven into the fabric of this ideal is a foundational aspect of God centered stewardship. It is something that, in the end, brings more freedom, joy, and worship in the midst of giving by transforming an understanding of true abundance. How does it do this? It solves the issue of ownership. God owns everything. There is no aspect of life that can be separated from its place of origin in creator God. As image bearers of Christ, everything can be and should be traced back to God for the sake of His glory. Living with open hands demonstrates clarity of true ownership through a posture of stewardship. Rather than asking the question of how much of my wealth should I give to God, it asks the question of how much of God’s wealth should I get to keep for my own use? There is a great difference in these two perspectives. The first asks why should I give anything to God? The second asks why should God let me keep anything that is His? Once the issue of ownership is resolved, it establishes the principal of stewardship. A steward is someone who manages the assets of someone else. If everything belongs to God and He has given us time, talent, and treasure, then He has strategically positioned us to be His stewards and effectively manage the portfolio of His kingdom. Living with open hands then means that when money, resources, wealth, or opportunity come our way, we seek God’s guidance for how to best steward those resources since they are not ours to begin with (it all belongs to Him). Opposite that, when we live with closed hands, we anchor our faithfulness in a sea of scarcity, falsely believing that what we have been given has come from the work of our hands and not God’s. We do this all while thinking with the brain He created and holds together, using the unique skills and abilities He deposited in us that were supposed to display the joy of His craftsmanship, all while working in jobs to earn incomes that would have never been possible without His mercies of today. An open hands mentality strips money of its worldly power and inherent worth by moving wealth into a place where it can stop being about dollars and can start being about devotion. It is in this arena where faithful stewardship becomes an act of worship, breathing new life into traditional “giving” so much so that it becomes “returning” to God what was already His. Within this reality an element of undeservedness takes root within the heart. It grows and develops over time, beautifully compounding itself through the gospel to ultimately bear fruit for the glory of God’s kingdom. With open hands receive all that wants to give, knowing He wants to give you a lot. And with open hands give it away, believing you cannot out give God. What joy awaits for those who try and out give God.

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