“I will just put it in the offering plate.” The pimple-faced teen held out the five dollar bill. I told him that was a great idea, but to do whatever he wanted with the money. He had just done a small bit of manual labor for me and I gave him the ole' Abe Lincoln for spending. What he was actually saying was “I just enjoyed hanging out with you, whether we were working or not. I would rather give this money back to God where it came from than keep it.” This was a kid who was being raised by his grandparents and often was unable to attend events because they couldn’t afford the gas money to get him there. The same kid is now 20 years old with a full-time job and recently gave a complete game system and flat screen TV to a younger friend for no reason other than “because he had never been able to afford a good gift before.” Wow!
I will pull up at a gas pump with a van full of foster boys eager to run in and spend their last dime on junk food and energy drinks. (…after which they proceed to tell me about the Corvette they want to buy. Great time for another money management talk!) I cannot list the number of times they return with extra items they have bought for me or for the kid on the van that has no money. It is truly amazing and heartwarming.
Don’t misunderstand me, lest they receive undue accolades, I see plenty of examples of selfishness in these teenagers. They can get downright childish and violent over the smallest of issues. But they are children. They are expected to behave this way. That is why we must be involved in their lives to guide them. Adults don’t behave selfishly. Right?
Drips of shame fall from my brow as I type this. I recall a time when my brother was moving out after living with me for one year. As we were going through the items in the kitchen, we came across two small boxes of baking soda (these cost about 99 cents mind you). One was used and opened, the other was new and unopened. He proceeded to pack the new one in his moving box. I became indignant, demanding that he leave it and take the opened one because I had paid for the new one! He laughed, thinking I was surely joking. But I proceeded to put my foot down. I had to stand up for my rights after all. He humbly shrugged his shoulders and corrected his “dastardly” mistake. What a jerk I was! It’s no wonder he moved out! (Hmmm, I think I still need to apologize to him for that.)
Do you do this too? You are serving up ice cream for you and someone else. As you decide which bowl to give the other person, you quickly assess which one has more in it and slyly keep it for yourself. Maybe I am alone on this, but methinks not.
What lies at the heart of generosity? Why are we so slow to give freely to others? The answer is sad. It is because we do not believe that God will provide. This leads to a sadder but deeper reality. We don’t believe that God CAN provide for us. It seems more difficult for adults then children to believe that God is who He says He is.
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
Isaiah 40:10-18 (ESV)
Wow! Is that who God is? Is it? Let’s spell this out concisely (concisely means that you take a lot of words that you are using to explain a concept or concepts and consolidate them down to as few ideas and, thus few words, as possible to make them clearer and more simple to grasp or understand, more purely exhibited in their quintessential form, than if you had used the originally much larger number of words and more complex and possibly overlapping ideas to communicate that which you had originally intended to be understood by the person or general audience to whom you were attempting to convey your broader but less distilled thoughts…Ha haa! Just a joke…get it? Consicely?! Hehe…Ahem… ok, Sorry…we were talking about something very serious here. Moving on…). God created us. We rebelled, which is punishable by death and eternal separation from Him. He died in our place to pay for our punishment which allows us to be with Him again if we choose in this life and eternally. Talk about generosity!!!
To be blunt, our hesitancy to be generous is nothing more than evidence of our distrust of God. Join me in learning more about who God is and how able and willing He is to provide for us. As you read your Bible daily, look for the generosity of God. After you close your Bible, look around you at the generosity of God.
Often we mistake God’s blessings (grace, money, forgiveness, our time, the very gospel message and more) as being only for us. But most often they are meant to be given to others through us. How could God trust us with such as these? Humbling, is it not?
You will rarely hear me say this, but let’s take a lesson from some teenagers. Be generous. Get to know God by reading His Word, praying and fasting then trust Him. It has been asked and today I ask you, how generous are you? And, also, how are you generous? (We don’t need those extra calories in that ice cream bowl anyway!)
Oh, yeah. The next Sunday at Church I saw the kid drop the five dollar bill in the offering plate.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)