When we speak about generosity we often think about it from our own worldview and how we were taught to be “generous”. This might look like sharing your toys with siblings, or inviting friends over for dinner, or lavishing wonderful gifts on others. How you’ve experienced generosity, personally, often governs how you show it to others.
As followers of Jesus, we have experienced personally the incredible gift of grace- getting what we don’t deserve. This gift of grace allows us into freedom and right relationship with our Creator. It is the most generous gift of all, since there is nothing in us that has merited this gift. It was freely given, for us to freely receive. God has given us the ultimate example of how to extend grace and how to be generous with all that we have. In the book of Romans, it states that “God does not show favouritism.” He desires that his love and generosity extend to all his creation, and he wants you and me to be vessels of his goodness.
Sometimes we think, even subconsciously, that there are those that ‘have’ because they worked hard for it, and those that ‘have not’ because they have made bad choices in life. In our minds, there are those that “deserve” our generosity and those that do not. The trouble with this thinking is that we become judges over one another and in the process we fail to offer the very grace that we have received.
Generosity is in God’s very nature and character. Time and time again, through his Word, he calls us to reflect this to others, our neighbours. In order to do this, we must first be challenged to see one another as equals and thus equally worthy of grace and generosity. We will then recognize that generosity starts in a heart of gratitude, that leads us into desiring to live open-handedly with all that we have. We are stewards of the resources God has given us. All that we have is through his abundance, not primarily our works. The amazing reality is that you can never out-give God!
Jesus shows us through this parable in Matthew, that generosity in action, what you do to serve those with need, actually brings the Kingdom of God.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”— Matthew 25:35-40
What a beautiful picture of Jesus inviting us to serve him in love through our generosity and love for those around us. This is the opposite of selfishness, the heart condition that leads to injustice. This is having eyes to see those on the margins, those with needs. To be generous, or to see outside of ourselves to the needs of others, we might need to release or reprioritize the things we hold dear. If time is what you hold very tightly, then to be generous might be allowing yourself to be divinely interrupted, like the ‘Good Samaritan’ in Luke 10:25-37. He chose to extend himself to serve the needs of another, when others were too busy, even paying the bills incurred to see the injured man cared for.
We are entering into December, the month many associate with Advent and Christmas, gifts and generosity. It is good to note, however, that this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for many! The women and children we serve are worthy and deserving of love and life in all its fullness, yet as they come into our safe harbours we know that they may never have experienced the things that make life abundant and which many of us take for granted. It is our desire to share with them the heart of our generous God, that they would know and feel that they are valued and belong, also at this time of year.
There is great need in our world, for others to be seen, valued and loved, and that can feel overwhelming at times. You and I are not able or expected to meet every need, except the needs that God places before us. It usually starts with having our hearts and eyes open to notice our neighbours needs, which will lead us into action.
So who is that “fearfully and wonderfully made” individual that God is putting on your path to see and to share his nature of generosity today?