When I’m Generous and When I’m Not

Wealth and riches are in their houses; and their righteousness endures forever.  Even in darkness light dawns for the upright; for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.  Psalm 112:3-4

There was a family friend in the small town where I grew up who was quite wealthy.  My aunt and uncle took him in as a young man when he was destitute and he never left.  His life’s goal was to amass a fortune and he didn’t care how he did it.  Was he driven by greed?  In his case, no.  Fear was his taskmaster.  He lived through the depression with a mother and several siblings.  Hungry, he had gone to work at seven years old to deliver papers in order to put some food on the table.  He had taken a vow to never be poor and his entire life was shaped by those words.

In practice, he was stingy.  If he gave you ten dollars, it was with strings attached.  He expected repayment of some type; he was so afraid of having nothing in his hands.  We spent some Thanksgivings with him and he made it clear that he expected invitations to our house the next time around.  He had no trouble asking, expecting, and giving shameless reminders.  With this childhood model so far from God’s heart, it’s good for me to think about God’s generosity and how it works.

gift-womans-handsOne of the Greek implications of the concept of generosity is this ~ Someone who loves to give and just can’t help himself.  He almost dances in celebration when the opportunity comes his way  Like the man who was afraid of having nothing, there are many reasons why I don’t give generously.  Fear of deprivation, fear of giving away something that I’m attached to, fear that it won’t be received, fear that I will get nothing back.  Greed is not always at the center of why a person withholds.  What is the cure?  Ah, one I didn’t expect to find this morning.  You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.  2 Cor. 9:11  God promises, through Christ, to make us so rich that we’ll give it away – confident that He will more than compensate.  And when we give so recklessly, others will not understand it and be prone to give glory to God.

If I’m not a good giver, for whatever reason, it is only because I have not fully realized how much God has given me and how much I have yet to claim.  How well do I know His promises?  There are many resources from heaven’s bank account that I’ve not drawn upon yet.  Only when I stop living as an orphan, looking to the earth to give me what I need and look to my Father whose arms are full of gifts, will I be overwhelmed by His generosity.  I’ll know I’m on the right track when I just have to share it with somebody.  Until then, I’ve only just begun to realize what is mine in Christ.

I know some people who love to give.  I think they love to do it more than I do.  I’m looking hard at the reasons, Lord.  Amen

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