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Aren't there limits to how much love you can give? From my experience, love feeds on love; it grows by being given away.

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The more love you give, the more love you seem to have. That's how it's been in my experience. The faculty was discussing the problem of "grade inflation. The old "gentleman's C" has become the "gentleperson's B. To many, this grade inflation bespeaks a lack of standards, a laxity in expectation, if not downright dishonesty about a student's work.

So, the faculty was discussing what they could do to tighten up. This may sound crazy, but I'd like to be so good a teacher that every student I have does her very best. I'd like all of them to get an A. I never found a student who learned anything from a failing grade. I am reminded of all those strange little stories that Jesus told about a farmer who sows too much seed.

Most of the seed was wasted, falling on the wrong sort of soil.

God’s Extravagant Love

But when you are sowing good seed in bad soil, well, sometimes you have to overdo it a bit. The seed that did manage to germinate and take root and produced, said Jesus, abundant harvest. Or in John 2: The wine gives out at a party after a wedding, and what does Jesus do? He turns water to wine! Not just some water into a bit of wine. He makes, according to John's estimate, about gallons of the best tasting wine they ever had.

I'm a Methodist, and we're not supposed to know about such things, but isn't that a great deal of wine? He didn't just turn water into wine, which would have been quite a sign in itself.

Bethel Bible Church: Winamac, IN

He made gallons of wine! An abundance! Or the father of that wayward prodigal son - he didn't just welcome back his son. We would have done that. No, the father welcomed him back with a huge, expensive, wild party that was extravagant!

Perry Gaspard: The Extravagant Nature of God

It wasn't that the good Samaritan stopped and helped the wounded man in the ditch. It was the way he stopped. The Samaritan put the wounded man in his car. He took the man to the hospital. He told the doctors, "Here, here's everything - all my credit cards, my checkbook, everything. I'll be back here in a week and, if that's not enough money to treat this man's wounds, I'll give you even more. I don't think he even knew the wounded man.

Isn't that just a bit overly generous on the part of the Samaritan? And so Jesus said, at the end of that series of stories about parties, that when just one sinner comes home, turns and repents, just one, heaven throws a huge party. So many parties! You know how expensive a party can be here on earth. Imagine what good catering costs in heaven!

Jesus told stories of such abundance and extravagance overflowing. God is like that. God could have made one shade of flower - say, a red poppy - and this would be miracle enough for most of us. And yet look at the colors and the shapes of the millions upon millions of flowers. Wouldn't you call such colorful creativity excessive?

And all the rich panoply of races, all the colors of people, all the diversity of shape and size, of sound and sense. Oh, let other gods be parsimonious, miserly, cautious, careful, but this exuberant Creator overdoes almost everything. Here is a God who, when he started creating people or flowers or birds or stars, just didn't know when to stop. Perhaps, with God, creativity is a renewable resource.

I know people who have faced crisis upon crisis, and still they get back up and they ask for more. They suggest to me that courage, determination, maybe like love, may be a renewable resource.

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Well, life has its limits. The average lifespan of the average American is what? That means I've only got a couple of decades to go, at the most. Yet I've known people to throw away the majority of their few years on a group of thankless, hopeless kids in some classroom. I can show you a woman who wasted 40 years of her life creating and running a home for unwed mothers! Jesus tells a parable of a boss who called his employees together and gave to them everything he owned. Every single cent. And then he went on a journey. The employee who got half of the property went out, wheeled and dealed, and doubled his holdings.

The one who got a fourth of the property did the same.

But a prudent, cautious employee took about the eighth that he got, buried it in a field, and he kept it all safe and sound. You know, there seems to be something built right into the nature of this God that tends toward extravagance, effusiveness, and abundance. And so Jesus goes to a hillside to teach.

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And look at the crowd who showed up! Must be a thousand of them out there if there's a dozen. There is hunger; night is falling. What to do? Jesus then takes what we have, he blesses it, he breaks it, he gives it. And, wonder of wonders, it's enough!

Holy Week lunch sermon: Jesus' death extravagant example of grace, love

No, Matthew says, "All ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, 12 baskets full. Lord, impress us more with your gifts than with our need. Help us in all our doings to lean on your extravagant, effusive love. We trust you will see life through the lens of the extravagant grace of Jesus. Pray for God to open your eyes to see not just the physical needs of people, but their greater spiritual and eternal need of Jesus. Pass along this booklet which is primarily the Gospel of Luke. Explain to them the importance of reading the Gospel for themselves.