The way of generosity
Post date: Jul 24, 2017 1:09:22 AM
Its fair to say that Jesus was the most generous person who ever lived. Not only did he give up his life for those he loved, we Christians believe that he gave up privilege, status and power as the second person of the trinity to come and live among humanity where he would be treated like the lowest of the low. In order to reach people no one was reaching, he had to do things no one was doing, and that involved sacrifice. One of the ways he lived was to do everything with generosity.
In fact, a generous life is arguably the way of Jesus. If every aspect of our lives were marked with generosity, we would be a lot closer to living the way Jesus lived. He was generous with his 'personal space', allowing his friends and strangers to be around him for long periods of time when he probably wanted a break. He was generous with his knowledge, teaching from the scriptures regularly in the temple when he had no obligation to do so. He was generosity with his authority and power from God, healing those who asked with faith, even if it risked his safety and security. See every time he showed someone unconditional love and generosity, he risked offending agitating those who would eventually killed him. In being generous, he risked his life. And that's truly generous.
Jesus also commended generosity and criticised those who lacked generosity. My reading this morning was about the poor widow and her offering at the temple. Jesus sits down near the offering box (probably much like the one we have at The Billabong) simply to watch people give their money. (This is why I give by direct debit - so Jesus can't see. Oh wait...) Some rich people give large amounts and then a widow drops two small coins - everything she had to live on. Jesus pulls his friends aside and says "See that - that's generosity! Its easy to give 'big' when its just a fraction of your huge surplus, but she gave more than the rich - everything!" (my paraphrase).
I happen to know that there's a young person in our congregation who gives a regular 'tithe' of $1.50. I won't say who he or she is, but I suspect they are one of the biggest financial givers in the whole of The Billabong. At least by Jesus standards he/she is, and I reckon his standards are the ones we should live by! Funnily enough, this person and many others I know who give generously from their pockets also give generously with their time and their talents. Generosity breeds generosity.
The opposite is also true according to Jesus. In the previous verses, Jesus criticises those with position and privilege for going about their business in a way that benefits them. Shortly after he points out that their 'large' donation is also greedy.
Do you want to become more generous? Take a first step. Does giving the first 10% of your income (tithing) scare you? Consider what God might be able to do with your 90% in comparison to what you can do with you 95% or 100%. Then, take a leap of faith. Is God challenging you to take unpaid leave to go on a mission trip seem, but you know that means selling your golf clubs? Talk it through with a friends, at least. Do you desire to serve in Christian community but know it would mean giving up your video game time? Or your overtime? Or worse, your 'me time'? Whatever the challenge God is putting on your heart - the rich and stingy were forever known for their lack of generosity. The woman who gave 'a little', but in fact gave everything will forever be known as one who reflected the heart of God and the way of Jesus. How would you rather be remembered?