There are many things most people would like to be true of them. Some are so obvious to us in times of introspection the question we must ask ourselves is, “Why am I not more ?” We do not even need to consider “Why would I be ?” We know why. The issue is why not.
My current series is titled “Just Give Up.” We are discussing four character traits I believe all of us would love to be true of us. Hospitality. Generosity. Thankfulness. Appreciation. The question we are seeking a Biblical answer to is, “What must I give up to be who I want to be?”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 teaches great truths about generosity. Read it here.
Grateful generosity is in an authentic and automatic response to God’s grace. There is no greater way to take grace for granted than to fail to give it. Generosity always exists where gratefulness exists. Grateful people are generous people. If you have not seen the videos that show how homeless people are willing to share what food they have compared to those who can purchase it for themselves, you should take a moment to watch one. It is a reminder that gratefulness is necessary for generosity.
So what must I give up to be more grateful and generous? The number one of enemy of generosity is greed. Greed is the assumption that everything I have is for my consumption. (Thank you, Andy Stanley, for wording things so clearly.) Why do you have what you have? Do you have it to have it? Do you have it to live for Christ with it?
Greed is easily tested with these two questions.
1. When do you decide what you have to give?
2. Do you decide what you have to give before or after you decide what you have to have?
Greed is not something we simply displace. It is something we must replace. Life is not lived well through an “out with the old” mentality alone. We need an “in with the new” mindset.
We must give up greed by taking up gratitude.
You must fight for an attitude of gratitude. You have to fight for it. Once you have it you must maintain it. It is not easily maintained. My family’s situation with a house fire this year has caused us to live with the necessity to replace many material things. The simple constant chore of looking at the material has caused me to have less gratitude for what I have. (I have committed to read Crazy Love by Francis Chan for a fresh reminder.)
We must give up false security to take up true trust.
What is your hope in? The security of our lives must be in God, Himself. Generosity is impossible when that which we believe makes life have deep and rich value is also that which we would be called to give.
We must give up inaction by taking up good in action.
You will never become an activist for the cause of the Gospel (or any good cause for the record) through the inactivity of posting on social media your opinions. It is through getting involved and serving and giving that we become rich in good works. This requires each of us to intentionally live on less so that we might give more. You will never have anything to give unless you plan for it. Your “right hand not knowing what your left hand is doing” does not mean to give up accounting. People, who do not account for giving, typically give less than 2% of their annual income to good causes, charity, or others. Jesus never told us to stop accounting what we are giving. He said stop counting it up. If you do not account for it, there will be nothing to give. I am personally committing to getting back in the practice of having a “generosity budget.” Set aside money in your regular budget so that you might be prepared when the opportunity for generosity presents itself. (Jesus taught of a man generous towards those he hired late in the day. That type of generosity requires preparation.)
We must give up value in having to take up value in living.
Why do you have what you have? Do you have it to have it? Or do you have it to live for Christ in and with it.
We must give up false limits to take up the freedom to give.The wording ready to share is the idea of giving liberally. This is probably the only time I will ever teach you to be liberal, but liberal in giving. People who give liberally ask a different question than those who have set up false limits for their generosity. Stop saying “I cannot do that” and ask, “What can I do?”
This mindset for life is impossible unless you remember the supreme value of the Gospel. We have been given so much. Give because you have been given.
We all want to be generous. It is easy to do because you actually want to do it. It is hard to do because you do not want to do what is necessary to be able to do it. Yet, if you read this far, you probably do really want to. Give up the greed. Take up the challenge to budget to give. And live in the freedom to give.