John Wesley, the famed preacher of the 18th century, was born into poverty. At that time in England those who could not pay their debts were sent to debtor’s prison. As a young boy, Wesley saw his pastor father taken off to that prison. Imagine the impact that scene had on a child. We might expect that as a man he would become a saver, carefully securing his future against want. And, we would be wrong.
Wesley’s income grew along with fame, but the preacher kept his expenses steady and gave all the increase away. At one point his income approached what would be about $300,000 in today’s terms but he did not increase his spending. He continued to live on a fraction of that sum, giving as much as 90% of his income away each year.
An article on the man says that in 1744 Wesley had written, “[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds . . . you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/1987/winter/87l1027.html)
What an inspiration! Are you a generous person? It is not just about money! We can be generous in spirit, too. Are you a person who refuses to take offense, who seldom speaks critically of others, who offers thanks and encouragement quickly?
Generosity is a pathway to joy, knowing not only the appreciation of those who benefit, but the approbation of God Himself. “God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-11)
Deep generosity is fed by real faith that grows an “abundance mentality.” Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, borrowed a Biblical concept and coined that phrase. When we trust God, who ‘owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ as the source of our security, we come to understand that there are always resources to share with others. From that deep well of resource we become those who live a life of generosity. Covey insists that generosity multiplies our resources rather than diminishing them. Jesus Christ said it first – “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” (Luke 6:38, The Message)
Here’s a word from the Word. As you read it, Let it speak to every part of your life. “Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. … For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:7,9, NIV)