Our Gospel Culture for this week is Generosity. I know some amazingly generous people. I am not one of them. I was sharing with our community group last night that my first reaction, even if it is only for a couple of seconds, to any kind of request is almost invariably negative. Even when I was working and I was asked to do something that was actually my job, resistance was my instinctive response. I always did what was required with enthusiasm, but I invariably had to overcome the initial barrier.
Yet the Bible says, “Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 MSG) Some versions read, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
Our group discussion was very helpful to me. My husband suggested that if we keep our eyes open to see the needs of others, we can initiate the generosity and offer to help. It is much easier to be a cheerful giver when one initiates the giving. Somebody else pointed out that generosity is not limited to giving money, although that is how we usually regard it. We can be generous with our possessions, with our time and talents as well as our finances. He pointed out that nowhere in Corinthians 8 or 9 is the gift of money specifically mentioned. It could have been food, clothes or other necessities that the Jerusalem church was lacking.
Friends of ours own a beach house and take delight in blessing others with a holiday by the sea. They are cheerful givers.
Another generous lady offered to babysit for a couple who are both musicians and sometimes serve in the worship team together. Another example of cheerful giving.
My You Version Bible plan for this morning reinforced these thoughts. It was based on James 2:26. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” (ESV) I tried to think of anybody I knew who had a need. The thought came into my mind that a certain friend needed a phone call. Before I could even put the thought into action, she phoned me. I was amazed how readily God responded when I opened a space for Him in my busy day. We were both blessed.
Lord Jesus, please help me to open my thoughts to You more and more during the day. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me and conform my heart to Your heart of generosity so I can be a cheerful giver. Amen.