The Heart I Want: Generosity (1)

Generosity
Yesterday, I was in Dallas with a friend and heard Joe Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute, speak.   In one of his talks, he spoke of being a generous person versus being a person of greed.  His use of these two words ("generosity" and "greed") went way beyond money issues.  Rather, these words describe a spirit, a disposition, and a way of living on many fronts.  In essence, these words describe a person’s heart. 

 

Some of us have a generous spirit.  Basically,  we reflect the character of God.  After all, God is a generous God.  Others of us have greedy hearts. In other words, regardless of what we are doing, we tend to focus on ourselves and our desire for more.

 

I’ve been thinking about this since my friend and I returned to Waco last evening.  I want to be a generous person.  But–I want to have a generous heart because I want to be like God.  For example, I want to be generous with mercy.

The world can be such a hard, mercy-less place.  Perhaps you can relate to this scene.  It is a hot afternoon.  Cars are lined up at a stoplight.  The light turns green.  One car does not begin moving the split second the light turns green.  The guy behind this car lays on the horn and looks very irritated.  The same kind of thing happens at work and in retail stores every day.  Many people treat others without generosity.  "You either respond correctly immediately or I will react negatively!"  Wow…

 

People can be really hard on one another.  Perhaps the cashier at Target is new.  She seems to be fumbling around with the keys at the check-out stand.  Maybe she doesn’t know how to enter the code for a certain item I am buying.  She asks another employee for help and then sheepishly apologizes to me, the customer, explaining that she is new.  How will I handle this?  Will I sigh deeply and  show my impatience?   Or, will I remember that God is generous with his mercy and I need to be generous with mercy as well?

 

I want to be generous today because God is a generous God.

  • God is generous with his love.  He loves the "world" in general (John 3:16) and yet he loves me (and you) in particular.  How generous!
  • God is generous with his grace and mercy.   He is described as one who is "rich in mercy" even when we are dead in our "transgressions and sins" (Ephesians 2:4).  How generous!
  • God is generous with his Holy Spirit.  He has given his "forever presence" to every believer.  God’s forever presence (the Holy Spirit) was "…poured out on us generously through Christ Jesus, our Savior" (Titus 3:6).  How generous!

One of the most attractive characteristics a person can cultivate is generosity.  People who are generous with love, mercy, service, patience, etc. will be attractive because they reflect the very character of God.  After all–God is an attractive God.  Come to know God and you will want to know more of God.  Like David, you will want to "…gaze upon the beauty of the Lord" (Psalm 27:4).

How generous of God.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “The Heart I Want: Generosity (1)

  1. Good morning Jim,

    This is really good stuff. I am reminded of a friend’s personal statement of his approach to evangelism. Like many, he (and I) are not yet comfortable carrying a “Repent or Die” sign down Main Street. But what we can do is to try to live every moment, especially those moment of interaction with others, in such a way that they cannnot help but notice something about us. Call it the Peace of God (or how about a piece of God!) or the Holy Spirit, whatever you like. If I can move someone enough for them to notice and maybe say “What is it with you?” then I can go the next step and introduce Jesus to the conversation.

    Another blog I read that describes these events is http://www.ordinaryattempts.org. Their “ordinary attempts” relate stories about us non-sign-carrying evangelicals and the little ways in which we can start the conversation.

    Have a great day.

    – Dave

  2. I like everything you said except the part about laying on the horn at the stoplight! But I’m working on that one, too, but I live in Southern California where that behavior is expected … possibly even required. Okay, I’m not convincing myself either….
    Good reminder!

  3. If it is not too long, I would like to insert below the compilation of 3 hours of thinking from 3-6 am a couple of nights ago – God has been bombarding me with serendipitous events which have lead to me to think that I should be a more generous person, in all areas of my life. It is just too coincidental that I, a guy from Vancouver, would read about living generously on a post from Texas.

    RANDOM THOUGHTS ON LIVING GENEROUSLY

    I believe that God has purposefully directed my thoughts, my reading and the people I have interacted with over the last several years to lead me in the direction of living a more generous (less selfish) life. There are just too many “coincidences” over that time for this all to be a coincidence.

    I don’t want to do this from the outside-in – I want this to be a change in “heart condition” so that my actions fall out of my character

    The starting point for this has to be Matthew 22: 37-40

    Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

    I don’t know “how to” love God – I have read somewhere that it is by following the second command, i.e., loving others.

    I want to study the Bible to find biographies of people who lived generously and model my life after their lives.

    I want to study the Bible to find what Jesus says about loving others and living generously.

    Like other things in my life, I want to enter into this “task” with a team of people, instead of just doing it on my own.

    I want to be very cautious so as not to become proud of what I am doing – this change should cause me to be humble at what God can do in me, not what “I” do.

    God has given me a brain and some common sense – somehow I want to balance that truth with the notion that God can work supernaturally in me to bring about this change.

    This must be more than just about money – I want to “live” generously, including giving of my time, my concern for others, and my encouragement and blessing of others.

    I want to live a life that is based on abundance, not hoarding things for myself.

    I want this change to be one of theology that translates into praxis.

    I am terrified that this new direction means I will have to stop enjoying the finer things (or at least my definition of those things) in my life (i.e. trips, good wine, etc. . . . ) – I don’t want to give those things up!

    Notwithstanding that I am trying to be less “modern” (i.e. less of a concrete sequentialist who has to measure everything), I really want to be able to evaluate myself in a year and know that I am different (i.e. loving God and others more than I do today) because of living generously.

    I must remember that living generously will not happen over night – it will be a series of small steps (and missteps) that carries me towards the goal.

  4. Dave,
    Good comment. I like what you said about your friend. There is something about authenticity that is very powerful.

    Thanks also for the link to “ordinary attempts.” I will be sure to check out the blog.

  5. Rod,
    I really appreciate you including these thoughts in your comment. You have thought deeply about this issue. Some of your comments really made me think. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    (Are you in Vacouver, Wash. or Vancouver, B.C.?

  6. I am in Vancouver B.C., where, in stereotypical fashion, it is absolutely pouring buckets of rain.

    I hooked up with your blog through Scott’s Jesus Creed site, and I have been watching it from afar for some time. I really like the honesty and thoughtfulness in your posts. Keep up the good work.

  7. Jim:

    I’m coming late to the party here, but I just want to chime in. This post reminds me of the observation I’ve heard about Luke 6:38. While this verse is often used in reference to the collection basket, it really has to do with relationships, particularly (in view of what v. 37 says) being generous in our relationships with grace and forgiveness.

    Thanks for this excellent post and call to generosity! -bill