Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Generosity in All Ways

         This week's blog is about generosity and how we are to give in all different ways.  I would suspect that many turn a deaf ear to messages about giving because we think here they go again after my wallet or pocketbook.  Giving can be done with your time, talents, wisdom, resources, material goods, friendship, as well as money.

        "Above all, God demonstrated His generosity when He offered His Son as a sacrifice to atone for our sin. In the face of such generosity, we can only say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The gift of Jesus to sinful mankind was the ultimate act of generosity."

         As we are to follow Jesus and his example, that includes being generous with others in all different ways.  1 Timothy 6:17-19  "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.  They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,  thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life."   The treasure stored up isn't material things for ourselves, but of doing the good works God has set before us to do.  "Those are truly rich who are rich in good works. That they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate: not only to do it, but to do it willingly, for God loves a cheerful giver." [M. Henry]

         Proverbs 19:6  "Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts."  My Dad has taught me and been my example about generosity.  Of course I know he is my biggest fan and is biased when it comes to me, but he is generous to everyone he knows.  While I was growing up, he had to go on business trips pretty often.  There was never a trip that he didn't bring me a gift back from, usually a stuffed animal.  Oh, the looks he must have gotten while flying home with a life-sized Smurf, that I still have to this day along with about 40 other stuffed animals.  He, also, used to bring my mom music boxes or figurines when he returned from trips.  Still even now, he shares his time and resources in the most generous ways.

          When I was about 13, I had earned and saved enough money from doing chores and mowing the grass that I wanted to 'really treat' my parents on their anniversary.  I made reservations by myself at a restaurant inside the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock.  We all went and I had my money rolled up and tucked in my jeans pocket.  I told them, "Order whatever you want, I have it covered."  I was so excited and felt grown up enough to really do something on my own for my parents.  We ate and the bill came.  I reached confidently in my pocket, but it was empty!  Frantically, I looked all around my chair and the table.  I had lost my $80 and my dad paid for the meal.  I was devastated and disappointed in myself that I let everyone down.  As we left, we told the manager the description of the $80, as four $20 bills rolled up together.  It was a long ride home for me because my generosity was now squashed into a heap of frustration.  When we got home, the restaurant called saying that they had found my roll of money.  "Ah, God is so good and there are some honest people in the world"...were my thoughts.

         "The Bible teaches the general principle that those who are generous will find favor: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell” (Proverbs 11:24–26). God’s Word is clear that the generous are remembered and rewarded, whether in this life or the next." []

         "In our generosity, we are not to expect repayment in kind. Our reward will come from the Lord, in His way and in His time. We are to show generosity even to our enemies: “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. . . . If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? . . . But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:29, 34–35)." []  I was told this principle by a former pastor that when he lends a tool, he never asks or expects it to be returned but if it is, it's a blessing.

         My generosity continues on to this day but I will not boast about those efforts.  I want to just be an example to others in the same way I was taught and raised to be generous, without expectation of anything in return.  I am blessed and encouraged by the parents who teach their children thankfulness and gratitude.  In this day and age, the sense of entitlement is an obvious sin that is running rampant and needs to be dealt with.

         I have been the recipient of so much generosity by friends and family over the years.  I want to spotlight one of those, as an example.  My friend, Lilly, handmade a huge quilt around age 13 for a class project and she gave it to me.  I hope to one day return it to her as an adult, because it's a treasure to be treasured by her own family one day.

We can apply these encouragements to our own lives and strive to be          generous and wise with everything God has entrusted to us.