Summary: Most people might like to consider themselves generous people, but the reality is we are only generous some of the time and selfish most of the time. If we want to learn what true generosity looks like then we need to look to the God who not only created
Part 1: Savior
I want to begin this message with a question. What is the most generous thing you have ever done for someone? I mean what is one thing that you did that was so big that it made you sit back and think, man I’m a good generous person? THAT was generous.
For each of us that might be a different thing. Maybe you gave a large amount of money to a charity. Maybe you helped your neighbor by mowing their lawn without asking while they were out of town. Maybe you’re a boss and one year instead of 3% raises you gave 5% or 7% raises. Maybe you held the door open for someone when their hands were full or you took the time to visit the sick in the hospital or the elderly in the nursing home or maybe you went all out and travelled half way around the world to serve people you’ve never met in a country you’ve never been to. No doubt all of us could look back on our lives and think of times where we could say, “What I did for that person or group of people was a very generous moment.”
I could do the same. I’ve served in foreign countries and given away lots of my income and even shoveled snow for neighbors who didn’t ask, opened doors for people, visited nursing homes, sat by the bed of the sick at the hospital, prayed with strangers, and given up many opportunities and luxuries in life to pastor a church for not a huge payday serving a group that is impossible to please all at once all of the time. Because I’m human I’ve had times where I’ve sat back and said; “Now THAT was generous. Who else has done that? I’m a really generous person.”
But I have to honest with you. While all those things we can look back on life as times where we showed generosity, where we pat ourselves on the back for being such great wonderful people. It all means absolutely nothing, it doesn’t even compare, can’t hold a candle to the One who not only created generosity but who fully embodies it. God didn’t just create the ability for us to be generous, He is generosity.
While we can look back at times we have been generous and while we can do nice things for people, if you truly want to know what generosity is, what it looks like and how it is to be lived out to the fullest then you need only to look God and more specifically the person and work of Jesus Christ. When you read the definition of generosity a picture of Jesus should be there. Here’s the definition: Liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish.
While we have had moments of generosity none of us could say we have been generous at all times in our lives, in all circumstances given ourselves away to others in whatever capacity that looks like.
While you and I have had moments of generosity we’ve also been selfish. We’ve not said yes to every opportunity presented to us to show love or to give a helping hand. Often our willingness to give away is determined by whatever present circumstances and mood we find ourselves in. When we are suffering we don’t feel like giving of ourselves, instead we’d rather people give to us. When life is going great and there is money in the bank, we don’t always give of ourselves we’d rather hoard, we’d rather splurge on ourselves.
It’s funny how all through church history the most generous of people have typically been the poorest of people not the rich. Those who have little often gave the most while those who had much gave very little. That truth tends to still ring true today. As Americans it’s interesting how throughout the year we are less willing to be generous in our time or money but at Christmas everyone seems to be more willing. I’ve often wondered why that is and figured it’s more out of tradition and a feeling of obligation than anything. Or how when a natural disaster strikes like a hurricane Katrina everyone is mobilized and ready to help right away but 6 months to a year later people tend to forget and go back to their lives being once again focused on themselves.
So I say again, while you and I have moments of being generous, moment where we show kindness in an unselfish way they are just moments. It will not be too long before we go back to once again focused solely on ourselves. We do not and cannot embody at all times even the simple definition of the word generous found in the dictionary. Only God can do that.