How Do You Think About Generosity?

Trinity Pres Church copy

We asked, and you answered — thank you! Last month, our leaders asked me to communicate to you that we were behind on giving for 2023, and your response has been encouraging. We are still short of our budgeted revenue, but in the last few weeks we have made up a lot of the shortfall.

Generosity gets a lot of emphasis at this time of year, but have you ever considered that generosity is an aspect of God’s very nature? It’s not just a rule; it’s a character trait. And as we’re made in His likeness, the LORD also designed us that generosity would be part of our character also.

When can you recall your first instincts of selfishness? Was it in your own family with a sibling? Was it at school or on the playground? Self-interest is powerful, along with all of the other impulses that cluster around it: fear, self-protection, greed, or love of security or control. All of these aspects of self-interest pull at us relentlessly. Then consider, what is it like to be on the receiving end of that kind of behavior? “I can’t wait to be treated selfishly today,” said no one. Ever.

According to the Gospel, God got His most amazing work done by generosity. “God so loved that He gave…” (John 3). “Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, gave Himself for us…” (Titus 3). And “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5).

Please do not hear these words only in terms of a season or need. We want to cultivate generosity as an enduring lifestyle. Christmas brings an annual emphasis on giving, and that’s not evil. Many times, in response to natural disasters or profound need, we can be moved to give, and that is beautiful. But following Jesus, we grow to embody it all the time and in every way. Jesus transforms us to be generous in how we think of others. He leads us to be generous with our time and our abilities so that we work not only for ourselves but for Him and others. And as we are regularly productive and paid for it, Jesus calls us to share as freely with others as we have received freely from Him (Matthew 10).

Do you have any discipline to help you think generously toward others? Rehearsing the Gospel and reading God’s Word every day reminds me of how generously God has treated me. Compared to His justice, He could treat me with holy severity, and yet instead, He has moved graciously to save my life. This humbles and softens our hearts, especially as we learn to compare how slight and small the sins of others are compared to our defiance of the LORD, our Maker.

Do you remember the Sabbath to keep it holy? A rhythm of one day in seven to stop your earthly labors and revel in His saving love can give you an ever-increasing eternal perspective on time and work. Jesus worked for us — when we didn’t deserve it. He stepped out of eternity into time and spent His entire lifetime to fulfill the Father’s good design that Adam and we failed to meet. And Hebrews 12 says it was “for the joy set before Him.”  Jesus joyfully worked for us. Can that begin to turn your heart to joyfully work so that others would be blessed?

And in terms of riches, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8). Do you have a commitment to give at least a certain percentage of everything you make? In my life, this is a constant reminder that 1) I have never lacked for anything, and 2) I have always made more than I personally need. Just as God made us to live seven days on only six days of productivity, He built into His creation a super-abundance. Giving is a privilege. It is not an “I have to” thing. It is an “I get to” thing. And all of it is fueled by what I have been given by my Great God and Savior, Jesus.