194: Culture of Community – Giving

Who benefits from our generosity? We do! Giving generously has a powerful effect on us. It liberates us. It is a real way that our faith can be put in action. Can we be intentionally generous?

Words for the Week

1 Corinthians 16: 2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Matthew 6:2-4
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

1 Corinthians 13:3
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Psalm 23: 1
The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.

“Its not how much we give but how much loving we put into giving”
Mother Teresa

Writer’s Thoughts

1 Corinthians 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

A generous life without worry
‘Intellectual generosity’ was the hallmark of an influential academic I once worked with. He created a culture where ideas were shared and given away. He was pleased to see others discover the pooled ideas for themselves and build them into projects. He was not anxious if he was not recognised in their success, or fearful of running out of creative ideas. The approach underpinned a working environment that was supportive, creative and successful. It was safe.

It was a complete contrast to academic institutions where new ideas are heavily guarded secrets. In those settings people do not trust each other and need to fight for their cause and corner. It was a good illustration of the kind of generosity that marks the lives of those who walk closely with their generous God. Through our generosity others can flourish. We don’t need to hold on tight to what we have because with God there is always more.

generosityThis inner knowledge of one’s true identify as children of God frees us to be generous with all we have. It also helps to have a clear vision of the bigger picture. This bigger picture is that no one is an island. We are all part of a community and we need each other to fulfil our purpose. Because we can be confident that our lives are safe in God’s hands and all we have has come from him we can be deliberately generous. We can give away our material wealth, our time and talents and do this proportionately more than is required or expected given our circumstances. Through doing so we also can help create a culture of generosity that benefits many others.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.
Winston Churchill.

How can I become a generous person?
Practicing generosity helps it to become part of our lives. Paul urges the Christians in Corinth to be intentional in their giving, setting aside a planned amount at the beginning of each week. We can this nowadays perhaps by setting up a regular electronic transfer of funds to the church. We can use practical methods to help intentional giving. I try to have a ‘one in: one out policy’.

When I buy something I give away a similar item. So if I buy a book I give away an old one, if I buy a T-shirt I give away a top, if I buy a pair of shoes I make sure I give away an old pair (that is hard). This has a dual effect. It makes me think twice before I buy something because I question whether I really need it (as something else has to go). It also prevents me from hoarding possessions and having too much stuff. It is not always easy to do these things but by doing so I remind myself that all I have is a gift from God and that He would have me pass on His gifts for the good of others and trust him to meet my every needs.

Own it personally…

  1. How confident am I in Gods readiness to provide all I need?
  2. What can I intentionally give away regularly? Money, ideas, clothes and possessions, and/or my time and skills?
  3. How can I deliberately commit to being generous with these things? Is it possible to organise my life to ensure that this happens as a priority?
  4. When I give regularly, what are the benefits to those receiving the gifts? Consider this in terms of feelings, spiritual well-being and physical impacts. Consider also the short and long term effects.
  5. When I give regularly what are the benefits to me?

Speak it out – Pray and Prophesy

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
St Francis of Assisi

‘There are no pockets in a shroud.’
19th century proverb

The image of the plant held in hands came from this web page
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