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Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

generosity“Tis more blessed to give than to receive” is a nice saying, a comforting thought, and even found in scripture. The reality is, however, during those times when we are completely honest with ourselves, we admit it’s easier to live by the adage, “It’s far better to receive than
it is to give.”

There’s ‘good reason’ for that of course. We all know the horror stories of people who have taken advantage of the system. These are the ones that feel they are entitled, for a variety of reasons, to a free ride. They make constant excuses for the way they are and fail to take responsibility for the condition they are in.

It’s amazing to me that some of the stingiest people are those who claim to follow Christ. They put qualifications on their giving such as economic need, church background, race, sexual orientation and the list goes on. It seems we are afraid we may be taken advantage of, or that someone may get something they don’t deserve.

It’s a complex issue with no easy answers I suppose, but I think the question of generosity can be summed up in our response to two concepts that Jesus himself taught. The first of these is ownership, in other words, who owns what you have? The Psalmist states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Psalm 24:1) If that verse is true (insert sarcasm here) then we need to realize that the car you are still making payments on isn’t yours. Never has been, never will be. There doesn’t seem to be much vacillation in the word ‘everything’. One may argue that we are called to be good stewards of all that is given us and that’s true. But do we refuse to give out of stewardship or greed?

The second issue that keeps us from being generous is simplicity. Especially for those of us in the United States, we like to be comfortable and we like to have the latest toys. (insert my own guilt in this regard here). It’s interesting that Jesus seems to call each of us to homelessness in Matthew 8:20 when someone says they will follow him anywhere (discipleship) and he responds by saying “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

The point is this. Are we willing to give from our surplus or sacrificially? I’m not just about money, I’m talking about our gifts, our talents, the fruit of the Spirit (you know, that whole love, joy, peace thing). There are lonely people all around us. Many would just love to get a smile, a hug, a visit, a card in the mailbox.

Jesus didn’t win people over by his great sermons. The New Testament Church didn’t turn the world upside down by placing requirements on who could join. How can you and I give in a way that will change someone’s world?

PRAYER: Father, I confess that I’m far more willing to give of my excess than to give sacrificially. I’ve grown far too comfortable from the many blessings you’ve given me. Help me to see those in need around me and empower me to do what you can to make a difference in their lives. Amen.

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January 2016
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