Are We Generous?
If we fantasize about winning a magazine sweepstakes, what first comes to mind? What we could buy for ourselves or what we might do for others?
Right from the very beginning, Christians knew that caring for those in need is a priority. As Christians we are called to follow Christ’s example, to help the poor, to give generously to those in need. The Bible is filled to overflowing with examples of God’s generosity and with Jesus’ call for us to give to others as God gives to us.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God“ (Hebrews 13:16)
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver“ (2 Corinthians 9:7)
“Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys“ (Luke 12:33)
“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you“ (Matthew 5:42)
“Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you“ (Hebrews 13:5)
“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth“ (Matthew 6:24)
There is a story about C.S. Lewis walking with J.R.R. Tolkien in Cambridge when they were approached by a shabbily-dressed man asking for money. Lewis fished out of his pocket all his spare change and handed it to the man. Tolkien chided Lewis, saying that the man would likely use it for drink. “Well,” said Lewis, “I’d probably use it for drink myself.” This story reminds us that we should give wisely, but sometimes we simply give out of the goodness of our hearts. Jesus commended a poor woman who gave to the temple two “mites”, an insignificant amount, yet her giving received special notice from God. We do not give to gain favour from God; we certainly do not do it to get to Heaven. We give because we can’t help ourselves; we’re grateful for all God has done, and we want to give, cheerfully.
If we live God centred lives, we will recognise all that God has given us. through this recognition we thank God for all He has given us and done for us. This then leads us to a mind-set where we are prepared to share the generosity of God. And there is more than plenty to go around. there is no limit to God’s love or generosity. it is beyond our human understanding, we can not grasp how much God wants to give us, to constantly shower us with unconditional love.
So if God gives us unlimited love and generosity, then surely we should follow his example and give generously to others, to those who are in need. Jesus teaches us throughout the gospels to treat others as we would like to be treated, to be generous, and that what we do to those in need, we do to Jesus.
“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.“ (Matthew 25:35-40)
How can we be generous as a church community?
We’re in this collection thing together. It’s about churches and people coming together to practice generosity specifically with their financial resources. We’re in this together.
The ability to meet the need resides in the church community. The ability to financially supply the vision resides in the local church community. Where God leads, He funds.
Planned, diligent, and systematic habits are key. Routine generosity pays huge dividends. Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 that the readers should set aside a weekly sum to be collected and brought together to be delivered to Jerusalem, to help pay towards continuing ministry, resources and alleviating poverty amongst many other things.
Each of us has a responsibility to give. No matter our individual ability, we all have the responsibility to practice generosity. Financial support is as much my responsibility as it is the next person’s.
We give what we can. This doesn’t automatically mean money, we can also be generous with our talents, our skills, our time. There are so many ways we can give, so many different ways we can share God’s abundant generosity.
Together we can create life-changing moments. When people practice extraordinary generosity together in pursuit of God’s vision for a local church community, great moments are created, moments of mission, ministry, fellowship and most importantly, moments of God’s love.
“In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive“ (Acts 20:35)