April 13, 2011

Six Habits: Give Generously

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:32 am by Steve

Generosity is a path that takes you closer to God, always unfolding in new and exciting ways. The more you stop focusing your sight on your possessions and wealth, the more you will see the gift of God and the purpose for which they were created.

Jesus recognizes giving as an action of the heart, and as a measure of the heart. People tend to look at the size of the gift. Radical generosity is generosity that flows from an encounter with this radically generous God we meet in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the Gospel takes root in our lives, it becomes the story that shapes, informs and defines the decisions and direction of our lives. So, just like Christ, we gladly become poor, giving sacrificially of our lives to enrich the lives of others. Just as our Savior poured himself out to rescue and enrich our lives, so we would pour out our lives to rescue and enrich the lives of others – not just friends and family, but even those who are removed from us.

Step 1: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Many people do not practice radical generosity because most of their resources already have claims upon them.  We cannot support God’s church, bless the poor, and give to change the world unless we spend less and create margin in our lives in the area of finances. If we are going to be generous toward God and others, we must forsake any excessive generosity we have shown to ourselves. At First United Methodist Church we speak of living simply so that others can simply live.

Step 2: Grow in Giving

Giving is something we should grow in, just like every other area of our spiritual formation. God increases our resources not to increase our standard of living, but to increase our standard of giving.

Step 3: Encounter the Gospel

Tim Keller teaches that without an experience of the gospel and grace, our giving is passive and spontaneous – – we only give when guilted into it by someone else and when we do give it is whatever we have or can afford at that specific time.  However, when we experience the gospel our giving then becomes active and intentional.  We become active in seeking out ways to give and bless others with our finances and we become intentional about how much of our income we want to give to others.  The gospel completely changes the way we view our money, and it gives us the freedom to give it away in acts of radical generosity.