If you have a fair amount of wealth, numerous possessions and a comfortable lifestyle, you may feel guilty at times that God is calling you to be more generous. I recently went to a weekend outing with my wife called the JOG (Journey of Generosity) put on by Generous Giving. This is a group that invites couples who have a fair amount of wealth and who have demonstrated generosity in their lives. In the retreat they show a number of testimonial film clips of couples that have designated the income that they want to make at an early age and gave all the growth in their companies to Kingdom causes.
The stories were remarkable! One couple chose $125,000 per year for their income and gave away all the profits of their company to charity. At one point they were giving away $1 million per month! One of the common feelings the group at the retreat expressed was guilt for not being as generous as the couples in this testimonial. They felt perhaps they should be doing more, even if they already are very generous.
What do we do with this guilt and how do we become more generous?
1. God doesn’t want us to give from guilt.
God calls us to BE followers of Jesus. In John 15:2 Jesus says that our one purpose in life is to bear fruit, not to do something for the Lord. We are to have our eyes on Jesus. We are not called to imitate Jesus, but to participate in and through Him in His love.
2. God has gifted some with an incredible gift of generosity.
The rest of us may simply have to work harder to be more generous. We all see people who freely, abundantly, joyfully and even sacrificially give of themselves and what they have without any apparent reluctance, hesitation or fear. In comparison to their giving, ours is never as liberal or joyful. It is here that we can be deceived.
We can mistakenly conclude that because we are not as good at giving as these gifted ones, we need not even try to imitate their example. If this is our thinking, we have come to the wrong conclusion.
Those that are “supercharged” by the Holy Spirit with a gift of generosity are here to inspire and motivate us—to give us a glimpse of the incredible joy, impact and blessing that come from being generous. God has given the gift of generosity to a few so they can serve as lighthouses to show the rest of us the way and to reassure us that it is not only SAFE to travel in that direction, it is absolutely the most exciting and fulfilling way to go!
3. Generosity is part of the hardwiring of every one of us.
Are we not created out of God’s image? For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters Romans 8:29 NIV. Is it not true that God’s generosity and love was demonstrated in His gift of His Son? “For God so loved…He gave…” John 3:16. Simply stated, our God is an extraordinarily generous God and we are created in His image. We have all been created to be generous givers too!
4. We have obstacles to overcome.
There is a small call to generosity within each of us…an invitation that can be tragically drowned out by the noise of our comfortable lifestyle, fear that we will not always have what we need, and hesitation to trust the Lord that he will provide sufficiently. These can cripple, blind and disable us from being conformed into the image of a loving and generous God.
We have all experienced –even in our smallest selfless acts of kindness to others – a heightened sense of being more alive, feelings of well-being and purpose when we bless the life of another in a meaningful way. In a small way we experienced the heart of a generous God and harmony with His divine nature.
Most of us lack the gift of generosity, but all of us possess the nature of generosity.
It is this nature of generosity that we must diligently cultivate and develop. It is our way to demonstrate to the world the image of our generous Creator living and giving in us and we will, like the gifted, find “life indeed”
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:19 NIV
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