“…the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor…”
What we experience Some years ago in Pukekohe John had a bad accident in which he badly fractured his arm (- as well as biting through his lip and splitting the skin on his chin). A rushed trip to Middlemore in an ambulance was followed by two stays at Kidz First, the children’s section that specialised in broken bones and burns. The care was the very best we could have hoped for – that’s for both John, and Bernie who stayed over. We were so moved by the quality of their care that for the following two years Pukekohe’s Christmas collections went to Kidz First at Middlemore Hospital…we also persuaded the church to make special donations out of their thank-offerings in the following year. If we could have done more to help them in their work we would have so thankful were we for way they had cared for and brought healing to John’s shattered wrist.
It’s interesting to reflect on what it is that releases the springs of generosity in our hearts to help and support people and causes that are important to us. We may have a fine appreciation for the service we’ve received or have observed being given to others we care for; or we may have been deeply moved by the story behind the cause that it raised before us; or we may see ourselves as part of a story that involves an astonishing and unexpected generosity and so we want to become a part of that story.
What’s God got to do with it? God has brought us into a story – His own story in which we are the startled objects of His self-giving love and compassion and His desire to form a lasting, intimate relationship with each of us. It is so beyond expectation as to excite an attitude that would arise in worship, commitment and in a generous participation in enabling whatever it is that continues the miracle whether at home or in countries far beyond our ability to influence. It seems the generosity of attitude is often reflected by how we view what God has done for us. (From whom much is given much is expected – Jesus.)
When Paul was writing to encourage the Corinthians in their giving, he pointed to a church, which while poor, had a rich experience of the grace of God which in itself was a giving of themselves to God. We see an amazing picture in the generosity of the Macedonians. Paul calls their generosity a grace that has come from God that though struggling financially, the joy they experienced drove them to give beyond reason which they saw as privilege rather than duty.
What principles emerge from this moving story of selfless generosity:
- generosity flows as a direct result and expression of the grace of God, and is a means by which it continues to be unleashed in our lives;
- generosity is about the giving of ourselves first to the Lord, and then to those to whom the generosity is targeted;
- generosity is a graphic demonstration of the love we have for those to whom we are being generous.
- we know that even as we give, our needs will be provided for by the very One who created all that we could ever need – precisely so that we can continue in this grace;
- not only does generosity flow out of thanksgiving, but often motivates thanksgiving to God from those experiencing that generosity;
- generosity authenticates our proclamation of the gospel, what we say we believe becomes visible;
- generosity begins in prayer and provokes prayer.
What on earth should you do about it?
As I said in the first of this series, rehearse all of the reasons you have for being thankful to God; remember that you are the object of the magnificent, astonishing generosity of the Creator of everything in the entire Cosmos;
- Remember that all you have and are is because it pleases Him that you be blessed – and that He has an unimaginable plan for your future;
- as an outflow of grace the gratitude attitude finds expression in every aspect of our lives (even our possessions and finances!)
- we can all do something for others – give something – to express our gratitude to the LORD for all that He’s done for us;
- catch the vision of what Forrest Hill Church can mean to these communities and how your contribution will help make that dream a greater reality. Who out there needs what you have?
- so make faith-giving a routine but prayerful practice and look out for opportunities to support and encourage adventurous work in and beyond our area.
What if we did? Imagine a place where people are thus motivated to be generous, is a place where the grace of God is almost tangible, where there is an excitement about what God was doing both near and far because we as a church had a vital investment in that work and the people who did it. Imagine a place that was confident about what it did as God’s good work and knowing that it could always attract the support both financial and prayerful that enables and empowers that church to do whatever it felt God was calling to be and do.
Imagine a church that would see a need arising around them or even well beyond them and quickly and generously responded to that need and caused an outpouring of such thanks and blessing to God that the world came to know that God is at work.
Generosity is the grace of God being released through a grateful heart well connected to open hands; provoking praise flowing to heaven from grateful recipients.