Proverbs 11:25 (NKJV)
The generous soul will be made rich and he who waters will also be watered himself.
As I begin to go through the closets, drawers and cupboards of our house preparing to sell our house, I find though I think my lifestyle is minimalistic, I am a borderline hoarder. Ok, not really but as the mounds of unwanted, outgrown, unused and forgotten “stuff” accumulates I realize that maybe just maybe all the times I thought that I had nothing to give it was actually hidden in my drawer, closet or high on a shelf. It is easy to give what we no longer find of value or worth. I do not think twice about the things I leave behind at the nearest charity. I am simply cleaning out my house. This is not generosity. It is not giving of ourselves. In fact, it is purely selfish in motive. We tie the word “generous” and even “charity” to our things. It has very little to do with what we have to give physically but is more characteristic of who we are becoming spiritually.
Our daughter’s birthday is today. We celebrated last Friday night. At the end of the party, I had a plethora of food leftover. There were plenty of s’more fixings so I gave it to the youth pastor for the upcoming movie night. Sunday night the remaining cupcakes induced a frenzy at the youth service. I divided the remaining barbeque to feed three households. I shared what I had. Was this the result of a generous soul? Not really. What was I going to do with a mound of marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers but no place to build a bonfire for roasting? Cupcakes are not on my diet plan. My refrigerator could not store all the meat and it was just going to waste. Do you see my dilemma? Was I giving of my heart or of my overflow? Too many times, we stop giving when it becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable. If it is too personal or too much, we take one step back from sacrifice to remain at ease.
To be completely honest, it is easier to give what we have rather than who we are to people. Relationships are messing. People have problems. If I can ease their way or give them “something” they need, it will make things better right? Maybe for that moment or in that situation, but God didn’t call us to live a generous life. He invites us to live with a generous soul.
Matthew 6:1-4 (NKJV)
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
To do a charitable deed is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. To make it a God thing, it must be wrapped in His Love. If your gift makes a way for you to share the Love of Jesus with someone else rather than drawing any kind of attention to you as a person, it is profitable to our soul. What is charity? Charity is God’s Agape Love. Agape love is the love of believers for other people corresponding with the Love of God for mankind. It is unselfish love for others as Christ loves us. To truly have a generous soul, it must move from our hand to our heart. To see what we have as a key to open doors so that the Light of God’s Love can permeate the darkness in others. If we give for recognition, it is not from our relationship with Jesus Christ. To give of anything other than ourselves is good. To give ourselves is God.
I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Looking at the “things” piling up in the office and thinking about what to do with them, I realize that my original intentions to “bless” someone is not enough. If I do not take the time to share the Love of God with them, talk to them, get to them, share their struggles and help them along the way – love is not a part of this offering. I can give everything I own away but it means nothing more than a burnt offering in my backyard to an unknown god if I do not cover it, smother it, and infuse it with love. God’s Love. The kind of love that I have been given with the grace that goes with it and the understanding that I have come to know in the Lord.
What is love? Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. It is not arrogant. Love is not rude. Love is not selfish but selfless in all things. Love cannot be provoked so it is not angry nor does it become enraged or exasperated. Love thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in wrong or when another is caught in wrong. Love is the Truth. God’s Word is the Truth we live by. Love bears all things. Love always extends grace and mercy no matter how deep the hurt or level of wrong. Love believes in all things because its expectation is in the Lord, not other people. Love hopes all things because it is based on the Kingdom that is coming not what we see or feel today. Love endures all things. Those who endure to the end will be saved so I guess love must endure with us to be successful. Love never fails. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is the leverage we need to extend more of ourselves to other without ever fearing losing ourselves. We are to abide in God’s Love so we are free to love.
I Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
As a believer, our very first call is to love. We are to have faith born of love. We are to have hope born of love. But without acceptance of the Love of God – everything else we do is pointless. We are to abide in His Love. Wrap it around our whole life like a warm fuzzy blanket and extend it to the world we live in. Charity begins with God’s Love and stems from it. It is the fruit of His Spirit in our life that allows us to love the way that Jesus commands us to. As we grow in Christ and His Spirit grows in us, our generosity becomes immersed in love. Charity to the believer is to love like God. It is agape love that is unconditional. It is our motivation for giving. Charity is defined by this world as generous actions and donations to those in need of aid who are poor, ill or helpless. It is something given to one in need. It is goodwill and kind feelings for those who are in need or experiencing disfavor. It is also leniency in judging others. Everyone in need did not just fall on hard times. Some are suffering from consequences self-produced by bad choices or indiscretions, their need is a product of sin or willful disobedience. This is the giving that requires God’s Love so the seed of transformation, salvation, deliverance, healing and restoration is deposited. Without love, faith and hope will never be reproduced in others through us. It all begins with love. Not natural love that requires something of others, but True Love as experienced by those He died for.
Galatians 6:6-10 (NKJV)
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The Word of God encourages generosity on every level. There is no greater gift than to lay our life down for another. (John 15:13) Are we truly laying down our life? Or just giving up things that don’t really matter? Is there a sacrifice of self in our giving to others beyond “things”? Everyone likes Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Many preachers will quote the Word of God right before taking the morning offering unaware that this has nothing to do with the money that we give at all. Jesus was telling us not to judge other people but to give them grace. This is that which we “give” to be returned “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Like produces like. I can give away things and be blessed with more stuff. Or I can choose to give grace, love and time to receive God’s Favor in my life. If I sow in the Spirit, I will reap spiritual fruit. Where my treasure is, there I will find my heart. Where is my heart today when it comes to giving? I want a generous soul.
Let us not grow weary while doing good today. I will continue to give of our surplus to others. However, in doing so, I will make sure that my heart goes with it. Sensitivity to human need begins in our heart and must be given of the heart for godly use. There are many who will give of their hand today to help someone less fortunate. Today, I will give from my heart for as their soul prospers so will mine. God gives seed to the sower. (Isaiah 55:10) It is up to us to plant it in love.
Proverbs 22:9 (NKJV)
He who has a generous eye will be blessed for he gives of his bread to the poor.