Thursday, November 5, 2009

Characteristics of Generosity and Giving

"For the true giver, giving is an end."

Generosity, is a virtue.  It is achieved by a select group of people who possess some resources and decide to give a portion or all to someone else.  We all have something.  We all have been given resources, some of which we didn't even work or ask for.  Therefore, we have what it requires to be generous. 

Why isn't everyone generous?  Because the other requirement is still missing.  Generosity is not related to the availability of resources as much as the beating of the heart that drives us to open our hands.  The will to give transforms giving into generosity.  For the true giver, giving is an end.  Generous people make life happen more beautifully for others.  Not expecting anything in return, the reward is in the giving.

Adding other required results to our giving is Pharisee-like. For example, if I'd say, "I'll give to the church so that God will bless me."  Who, really, is the intended recipient of your gift? "I'll give a flower to my friend so that she will always be nice to me."  Who is the intended benificiary of those flowers, if not you?  Evaluate those motives carefully because, knowingly or unknowingly, we try to give as if throwing a boomerang. 

To give with the expectation of winning or getting recognition in the end is anti-generous. 

What to give?
Give Goods To Satisfy What's Lacking.  Whenever I think of the word generosity, I imagine checks, money, and the equivalent value of material things.  But true generosity can be expressed in so many ways, because God has blessed us in so many ways. Meet a specific need.  Give money if you have money.  If garden herbs are all you have, then give those herbs as long as it will aid somebody. 

Jesus Christ referred to himself as the bread of life (John 6:35).  He gave himself to satisfy the hungry.  He said he is the living water for the thirsty to drink.  He said he is the light to guide the lost (John 8:12).  He said he is the life for those who are dying (John 11:25).  He gave for a reason.  Loving led to giving. Loving serves the needs of the beloved. 

We were on a Mission trip to Belize and one of the things that we did was clean a storage room where hundreds of nice thick socks were stored.  Those socks came from Texas as a gift from people who wanted to be generous.  Belize, however, is hot throughout the year and Belizeans don't need thick winter socks.  Those who gave had good intentions to help but their generosity was directed to the wrong recipient.  Instead of being useful, the socks became a burden because My Refuge had to pay customs fees and now to provide storage (In a world where there is not a lot of material things, no one will decide to just throw those socks away.  There is this hope that time will come when they will become useful).

Give Yourself.  It is not enough to give my tithes and offerring to the church.  My money is not a license to exempt myself of the services that I could be doing.  We've all been gifted to serve.  While my money helps, I think that my heart will be more willing to give accurately if I get involved.  God sent His Son to come live among us sinners, leaving his privileges of deity behind.  We needed a Savior. He provided us with the only One who could. 

Why Give
Giving is Honoring to God. To give is to participate in someone else's cause or agenda.   God gave us the things we have and all our lives because he wants us to enjoy this life with Him. 
So when we give, we give out of gratitude and of trust in God. It is honoring to God when we give to the right cause.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! ~ 2 Cor. 9:12-15
How To give?
Jesus Christ Is Our Example   Jesus Christ gave the most significant gift ever given in the history of humanity. He gave his life, his wisdom, his time, his strength, his emotions, and he also gave wine, bread and fish and water.  Salvation through the gift of his life was an extension of an attitude he exhibited throughout his entire life. He lived to give.  He showed up. He was not an absentee giver.

Give From Your Heart. The bible clearly states that a cheerful giver gets God's approval and the goodwill of man.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ~2 Cor. 9:7
To Whom?
Give To Those In Need.  Who do we give to? Tithe, Offering... It seems to me that if we want to give back to God we give to those who are in need.  When we give to an organization or a group of believers, we know that these should be used to minister to the "least of these brothers of mine". 
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'  ~ Matthew 25:31-46
Give To A Cause.  The church as an entity should be the zone zero for ministries where its members exercise loving, giving, serving, and to reach out. This is a worthy cause. We then give ourselves, and resources to make this happen. It is meaningless to give when we don't understand the reason. It is difficult to be generous to an abstract cause.

These are just my thoughts in trying to understand the theology of giving and generosity.   After all there is an ongoing giving-campaign at Cornerstone.  So I try to put down what He is pointing out to me.
...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. ~ Ephesians 5:25b

No comments:

Post a Comment