The shock of generosity

Our youth have been known to do wild and crazy things. Zany really, not dangerous or concerning, more out of the box and unexpected.

One year, we were robbed of our Christmas caroling plans by a massive snow storm. We were bummed, but we found solace in hot cocoa, popcorn, and Christmas movies. Fast forward to Easter. We’re still bummed. Enter one of my finest ideas ever – Easter caroling! Not just any Easter caroling… Easter caroling at fast food restaurants to cashiers with Easter baskets of encouragement. Ta-da!

We were so jazzed. We practiced our Easter ditty, “Up, Up, Up, He Arose” four Sundays in a row, gathered our Easter goodies to share, and invited all our outgoing friends. We organized restaurant stops progressive dinner style and brought dollar bills to take full advantage of the value menus. McDonald’s was our first stop for side salads. We walked up to the cashier to order, asked if we could sing her a carol (no need to freak anyone out), sang her our tune, and offered up an Easter basket of Gospel and chocolate fun, sharing our thanks for her willingness to just be herself and taking our order.

The look on that woman’s face I will never forget. There were actual tears in her eyes. It was like Bob Barker and Drew Carey had called her down for the showcase showdown.

“For me?” she asked.

“Yes, for you.”

“Why?”

“Because, God loves you and we just wanted you to know.”

“But, there’s lots of stuff in here. Should I share it?”

“That’s up to you. But this basket’s for you. We wanted you to know that Jesus died and rose for you. Happy Easter!”

We are not freakishly generous people. We aren’t special messengers from God. We entered a McDonald’s and gave a gift. We did the same a Wendy’s and Taco Bell, and DQ and got many of the same responses.

People are surprised by even remote generosity. I think the idea of generosity almost makes us nervous in our current cultural context. What do people want from me in return? What will they expect from me? It brings up all our “I’m not worthy” instincts.

But we have a generous Father. He loved us first, He loves us more.

Generosity is a huge part of the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And what this generosity does may surprise us. Look at James 1:17 again and underline each instance of the word “every” in your Bible.

“Every good and every perfect gift…

Not some, not a few, but so many gifts…”every” says something. It says that God is generous of Himself. You’ll hear James talk again and again, throughout the book, about how we respond to this in the Spirit.

“Every” wells up in us and pours out to the world who could do with some “every”, because they’re so used to scarcely.

Now read on to James 1:19-27. My choice of this passage in illustrating generosity may surprise you, but bear with me.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

God generously shows us who we are in the mirror. He shows us both our sinfulness and our salvation. He shows us our beauty as His creation and the mark of the cross eternally etched in our forehead.

God’s generosity isn’t limited to love. He also gives honesty, sincerity, steadfastness, hope, joy, courage, and more…generously.

He generously gives us purpose, rather than a void. We hear the Word and then He generously gives us work to complete, vocations to fulfill, grace to be shared.

What kind of generosity is God pouring in you today? How might that reach out to others around you for His Kingdom?

Maybe it’s generosity of affection, generosity or discernment, generosity of care or kindness, or generosity of time. Let Him work in you. The implanted Word has saved you. Now let it reach out to every single person you meet, whether it’s your family and friends, or a cashier at the store.

They just might be the person who needs to see His generosity the most today.

Discussion:

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see that tells you what a generous God we have? (This may be a physical feature, something special about yourself, or a theological truth that serves as a good reminder.)

What kind of generosity are you most aware of God giving you in this season of your life?

Who is someone you feel called to share a touch more generosity with today?

Create your own post-it note truth of God’s generosity to place somewhere you can see today and/share the message of the meme below on social media or anywhere.

 

 

6 thoughts on “The shock of generosity”

  1. Thank you. This reminds me so much of the time when our daughter was broke, homeless, and nearly destitute. A customer came to where she was working with an Easter Basket of candy and fast food gift cards. You never know whom you might be blessing when you reach out.

  2. God has been generously giving me joy and perseverance to go to work every day with a smile and encouragement for those around me. Your idea of generously giving Easter Baskets has sparked an idea for me. I took over a project at church this year where care boxes are sent to military members. Unfortunately, this year we have not received many names of who to send them to. This disappoints me. But now I am encouraged to give the boxes away to others who would not expect them. Thank you for your ministry.

  3. Love, love love the Easter caroling/basket idea!

    When I look in the mirror, I see a generous God who gives me life and health and a family whose physical features I inherited. 🙂

    In this season of life, I am most aware of the good relationships my husband and I have with each other and our teenage and young adult children.

    Today I was blessed to give an unused toiletry item to our local homeless shelter. I did not feel it was a large donation, but the recipient was very grateful. It made me feel very good and generous and thankful to God for all that I have.

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
    Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

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