I met a friend in a crowded London rail station the other week. We had arranged that he would call when he arrived. He told me where he was standing; as I looked in that direction I saw him immediately. He stood out – head and shoulders above the crowd milling around him. Tall people are noticeable; they stand out. Christians should be those who stand out from the crowd. Their habits and life style mark them as different. Generosity is one of those distinguishing factors.
Words for the Week
1 John 3:16-23
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Marked by love
Followers of Jesus are marked by love; one of the ways love shows itself is through generosity. Giving more than is needed or expected. Overflowing… lavishing… pouring out… an unexpected abundance. Loving like this is hard. We may manage it on a wedding anniversary, or a special birthday, but all year? It may be possible to our close family or dear friends, but to strangers or enemies? This, though, is the love John talks about: we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Followers of Christ copy Jesus and have the godly habit of generous unconditional love.
A Generous God
We sing along with the children on Sundays:
Our God’s generous, he gives to all of us.
Holding nothing back, he pours out his love.
He sent Jesus Christ to be my sacrifice.
The greatest gift from Heaven above.
What an amazing God we have! He is the ultimate example of generosity. How does he express this? As the song says by pouring out his love over and above what is expected. He shows his generosity when he offers salvation. It is open to all – “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17) people from every race, social status, background or faith. They can take freely, amply, without limit.
God is also generous when he pours out his Holy Spirit. We know how to give good gifts and Jesus says: “how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). An overflowing renewal and powerful equipping for each and every task.
God’s generosity is shown when we pray. John asserts this “we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” (1 John 3:22). Those who follow Christ are assured of the listening ear of a generous father.
“God has given us two hands — one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for giving.”
A generous people
Those who have received from the generous abundant hand of God are called to reflect that generosity in daily life. Jesus told the story of the man who was forgiven a large debt but didn’t forgive his friend. Generosity had been shown; but, because he didn’t reflect what he had received, he was severely punished. (Matthew 18:24-34).
God has generously rescued us – none of us can say we deserved it. God’s Spirit is given without measure – transforming and empowering. We know that our generous all wise father will answer our prayers. We have received God’s generous, undeserved, abundant anointing and out pouring; let’s be a generous people and show God’s love to others.
Generosity in practice
John gives us clues about being generous. It is not just about words, but must be demonstrated, “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18). It’s about giving up our rights so others can benefit. It’s about sharing our material possessions so the needy are helped. It’s about praying for others that they too will receive from our generous God.
Jesus commanded his followers, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8). It’s about giving expecting nothing in return. (Luke 14:12-14).
Own it personally…
Listen to the song “Our God’s Generous”
It sticks in your mind after a while! That’s great!
- As you go about today’s activities, if you start to feel down; sing the song. Reminding yourself of God’s generosity shown in Christ will help to lift you up.
- If you see someone in need, recall the song. Becoming aware of God’s generosity to us will challenge us to be generous too. We will be encouraged to give practically – maybe buying some food or giving a drink.
- When you meet someone who needs prayer, remember the song; knowing that God pours out his love generously, will stimulate us to pray big prayers with expectant faith.
“I can never out give God, for when I reach into His pantry, there is always more than enough for myself, and there is always more than enough to give freely to others”.
From Dare to Call Him Friend by Katherine Walden
Speak it Out – Pray and Prophesy
Prayer for Generosity, attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Declaration of Generosity
Today I open myself to God’s generosity.
Today I open myself to the riches of God’s kindness;
And receive God’s complete forgiveness.
Today I open myself to the riches of God’s grace;
And receive God’s full salvation.
Today I open myself to the riches of God’s wisdom;
And receive God’s incomparable guidance.
Today I open myself to the riches of God’s glory;
And receive God’s abundant provision.
Today I open myself to God’s generosity;
That I may be generous to those I meet.