Are you, by nature, generous? Do you tend toward being engaged and ready to share life with others? Think of a time when you have worked with a person who has a generous spirit, someone who is positive towards others, who speaks encouragement, who actively hopes for the best and gives of his resources and himself. Yes, that one makes the world a richer place.
In this Thanksgiving month I want us to remember the generosity of our God. It is a key to living a richer, fuller life of generosity. When we know that we are loved by a generous Father, that security will allow us to become ‘rich’ towards others. Know this, too; generosity has rich rewards for us.
In 1892, the concert pianist, Paderewski, played a concert at Stanford University at the invitation of one Herbert Hoover, a poor student, who along with a friend, sponsored the concert to earn funds for his education. When the concert ended, the students discovered that they were far short of the agreed fee. They promised Paderewski the balance, explaining that their predicament. The generous man told them to take their expenses from the proceeds and give him whatever was left over!
Paderewski went on to become the Prime Minister of Poland, albeit not a very good politician by most accounts. During the first World War his country was devastated and people were starving. He reached out the United States to the Office of Food and Relief. The head of that office was one Herbert Hoover, who promptly set about to send tons of grain to help feed the Polish people. Paderewski offered profuse thanks to Hoover who reminded the Polish leader of his generosity in 1892, which the pianist Prime Minister had completely forgotten!
Such is the nature of generosity! The wisdom of God teaches us that “we reap what we sow” and in proportion to how much we sow.
Jesus told a story about a man who failed the generosity test at the point where it is most important. “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21, NIV) It is important not to misunderstand the message! Jesus did not condemn his success or his wealth. He pointed out the selfishness that followed success!
If we are carefully keeping record of what we think God owes us, if we are clinging to our time, our money; yes, to our Self – we are not ‘rich toward God.’ Jesus said that the man who took such good care of himself was a ‘fool!’ Strong word, isn’t it? He failed to understand that eternity waited and those things he had carefully laid aside for his own comfort would be spent by another. Are you ‘rich toward God’? Do you serve to meet minimal expectations or in a way that reflects passion for Jesus and His Kingdom?
We must remember that we are blessed. Even if our bank account balance is in single digits, our car a dozen years old, our clothes hand-me-down, we enjoy riches. The Word reminds us that “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5, NIV) The English text ‘poured out’ misses the power of the first language of the New Testament. The text there carries the meaning of overflowing, of being spilled out! Paul says that we enjoy “the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:7) Do you live in awareness of that lavish love, that spilled out grace?
As we begin this new week, let’s take the Word to heart. Jesus invites us to “Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:28-33, The Message)
People who know the generous heart of the Father will become richly generous, blessed to be a blessing.
He wakes up every day the same
Believing he’s gonna make a change
Never wonders if but when
I guarantee he can find a way
To reach out and make somebody’s day
‘Cause someone took the time with him
He believes it’s the little things
That make a great big change
Hey Mr Lovewell
Doing today what you do every day
No matter how small
Believing that it’s all the same
Come on Mr Lovewell
Oh we could use a few more just like you
Who care enough to give
This life away
‘Cause you’ve been changed
The generous Mr Lovewell loves today
It may be a simple how do you do
The kind of thing that can pull them through
A minute or two can mean so much
Or maybe it’s the one across the street
He’s asking if there’s anything they need
‘Cause they will know us by our love
It may not mean that much to him
But it’s the world to them
Need more Mr Lovewells
Barry Graul | Bart Millard | Jim Bryson | Mike Scheuchzer | Nathan Cochran | Robby Shaffer
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