The last several weeks, we’ve been making a more concentrated effort to encourage the gathered congregation at RiverWalk to think about generosity and giving, especially as it pertains to what we might call the contribution or the offering. Sometimes, in the hurry of our lives, we tend to forget some of the things that set us apart as “a people for God’s own possession” as Peter says. One of those things is generosity; the acknowledgement that what we have has been given to us to use as good stewards, and the resulting generous actions that bring to life that acknowledgement.
Jesus acknowledged and encouraged generosity in the account of the poor woman who gave two cents in the collection. He said to those standing with him that she gave more than everyone else because she gave all she had while everyone else gave out of their abundance. My guess is that this woman had to “make do” and do without even some of the basic necessities of life in order to do this; that her generous nature and attitude enabled her to make this sacrifice gladly and freely. My guess also is that this isn’t the first time she’s done something like this…that her generous nature and attitude have prompted her to do things like this many times in the past, and would continue to prompt similar actions in the future.
Notice that he didn’t encourage a large amount…he encouraged generosity. There is a great difference, sometimes, in those realities. And I think we sometimes get those two mixed up, thinking that because we don’t have much, we can’t give. Or that because others apparently have great wealth, they should give to make up for those of us who don’t have much. God doesn’t think that way, and neither should we. Even if we’re as poor as the widow Jesus talked about, we can still give, and we are expected to give.
Paul talked about generosity as a test of the genuineness of our love for God. His words echol down through the ages as truth for the soul. “Since you excel in so many ways–in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us–I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.”
The Corinthian believers excelled in everything–they had faith, good preaching (speech), much knowledge, much earnestness, much love. Paul wanted them to also be leaders in giving. Giving is a natural response of love. Paul did not order the Corinthians to give, but he encouraged them to prove that their love was sincere.
So, as you bring to awareness your own “generosity quotient,” so to speak, keep in mind that as a people set apart for God’s own possession, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our love for Him through, among other things, our generosity. And that generosity doesn’t necessarily equate to great amounts; but rather our attitude toward what we’ve been given and our willingness to share, even if it means we have to “make do” for awhile or go without something we truly enjoy.