Are you a Giver?
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9.6
It seems the subject of Christian Giving is often accompanied by suggested guidelines, recommended percentages, and veiled apologies for bringing it up, (along with the assumption that the associated organization’s Giving must be down). As a ministry leader and director of a 501-C3, I know that even mentioning Giving makes me uncomfortable! I have a little different perspective as I write today. In 2 Corinthians 9.1-5, Paul writes to commend the Corinthians' giving, mentioning their generosity to the mother church in Jerusalem, though they had little to spare themselves.
Whenever I brush up against this kind of unselfish generosity, it makes me stop and consider my own generosity, or lack thereof. Am I a generous person? Well, I guess that depends on how one defines generosity...with what might I be generous? My money, my time.... money is obvious--giving to God's work and to those who have far less than I do, and giving my time to serve God....'that it?
I remember being at one of my boys' baseball games, turning and asking the guy behind me if he was a generous person. He thought for a moment, and said, 'Yes, I believe I am...'. 'Why would you say so?' I help those who need help--financially, I mean.' ''That all?' He scratched his chin and said, 'And I am a good listener.' Ah, a good listener...hmmm, it doesn't take money to compassionately listen. I turned around and thought about that a little more. A generous person gives of his financial resources, serves with his time, from his heart...out of compassion, and that would include listening, just being there for someone. Kinda cool
Then, I went to my trusty bookshelf and grabbed a book I love on generous giving. The story revolves around two main characters, both successful businessmen by anyone's measure. However, besides business, the similarities between the two diminish. The first, the 'broker' is a self-made man and lives only for himself, wracking up one material trophy after another. Personally though, his life is rather flat.
The second fellow, the 'executive' is every bit the self-made man, in that he has a thriving, huge business he has built . . .
But he looks at everything he is,
and his very life,
as being gifts from God.
After being intrigued by the executive's story, the broker goes to meet the guy, find out if he is 'for real', and to find the holes in his thinking. Since the executive knows even his precious time belongs to God, the executive is willing to carve out a big block of time to just share his life with the broker, most all aspects of it. What the broker discovers is intriguing and most fascinating! Besides looking at all of life as gifts from God, the executive’s life is characterized by thanking God for all of his blessings, AND then, looking for ways to bless other people. Truly, after the joy of serving God and loving his family, his greatest fulfillment comes through meeting the needs of others. Hmmm . . .
In The Generosity Factor, (the aforementioned book), no percentages and no formulas are even mentioned, which is cool. I do not remember the word 'stewardship' being mentioned either...also cool. Instead, author Ken Blanchard mentions four areas that comprise our general disposition toward generosity. 'Ready? They are TIME, TREASURE, TALENT and TOUCH. Giving of any of these blesses others, but also changes, grows and enriches us!
Many times we confine our thoughts about generosity to treasure and may include time, but talent and touch? Awesome! Are you poor of means? Then begin to consider how you might be generous with your talent, time, and touch . . . Why this opens a whole new way of looking at personal generosity! So, how are you doing? Are you generous with time, treasure, talent and touch? Hmmm...
This is giving ... expanded with love.
Inspired by the Father's great love,