Generosity is a Gift

Generosity is a Gift

Generosity. What a simple, splendid word. And it is a special gift to know that generosity is given to us from the first and ultimate giver, God. From the very beginning, He has unfolded His sovereign plan of creation, love, grace and salvation as an expression of His abundant generosity. He invites each one of us to participate in this plan with Him as He continues to move through history and our lives.

Inside the soul of every Christian is a God-inspired desire for the generous life, for a life tailored around His example of selflessness and sacrifice. There is no greater definition of love than selflessness and sacrifice, which shows the condition of the heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:11.

“I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” 2 Corinthians 8:8-9. The Bible is not easy on us when it comes to this business of generosity. We are instinctively selfish people.

On a very practical level, Jesus also taught that everyone has something to give, rich or poor. In Mark 12:41-44, He celebrated the willingness of a poor widow to give not out of her abundance, but out of her poverty.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to Him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

At first, God set the bar low in regards to mandatory giving: a tithe, ten percent of one’s holdings. “As soon as the order went out, the Israelites gave the first fruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything” (2 Chronicles 31:5).

However, generous giving is another story. When we are moved to generous giving, we learn that generous giving starts when it hurts to give. We move in the direction of “poverty” in order to make someone else “rich.” By richness, we are not talking about adding to someone else’s net worth. Rather, we refer to spiritual richness or the richness that comes from living the life that God intended for all (not just the privileged) to live. Jesus set the pace in His incarnation and His atonement at the cross. He went from wealth to poverty that we might go from poverty to wealth. That is our call.

The word sacrifice is so difficult for us to accept at times. Yet that’s exactly what we must do when we practice generosity; we are called to sacrifice something of value to us for the good of others, because we love them. This is what differentiates generosity and giving. Giving can be done begrudgingly and devoid of love. True generosity is always initiated by love. Because God is love, as our hearts become molded in His likeness, we will naturally move toward a life of greater generosity.

When Todd Jones arrived in 2002, he had a vision that “FPC becomes the most generous church in Tennessee.” We have moved from a mission budget of $400,000 per year to over $1.2 million, with a five-year goal of $2 million, plus our mission focus has continued to grow. Also, the numbers of community and local missions we support have increased. Our goal is 100 percent participation by church members in mission efforts, whether local or international. Participation may be: prayer for teams, committee membership, local mission participation, Sunday School or small group leadership.

Some new mission programs added since Todd and Sandra Randleman arrived are:
• Room In The Inn
• DivorceCare
• Career Transition Network
• At Home Communion
• Grief Support
• Manna freezer with delivery of food items
• Monday morning flower delivery
• DFW group that offers home repairs to older adults and single mothers
• Home Partners
• Growth of Stephen Ministry

Eternal Reward
Where is God in all of this? “Patience, kindness, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good-tempered, guilessness, sincerity and generosity make up the supreme gift and the stature of the perfect man. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart is also” Matthew 6:20-21. Heaven deals with the currency of love, grace, kindness, mercy and benevolence. It recognizes the currency of humility, service and witness. It honors the currency of defense on behalf of the widow and the orphan, the weak and the poor, the sick and the aged. These and all other attitudes and actions in the family of godly behavior are seen by heaven in the context of currency exchange.

God, the First and Most Generous
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. This scripture reminds us that God does not ask of us anything that He has not first done for us. God is the first generous giver. He has provided the highest model of generosity, and He calls for Biblical people to follow. It is the will of God that we become generous givers. But He would never ask us to do what He has not first done for us.

Questions to Consider:
• Are you a generous person?
• What are your gifts of the spirit, and are you generous in sharing?
• Have you encouraged others to share their gifts?
• Can you give a tithe of your time or your talent or your money — or of all three (a tithe of everything)?

To be continued in next issue: “Excessive Generosity”

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