According to the World Economic Forum Americans will spend over 1 Trillion dollars on Christmas gifts for family and friends this year! With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror we enter into the season of generosity. There is clearly a pattern here—gratitude then generosity. Author David Faust points out this pattern in the very word Thanksgiving.
As Christians our lives should be formed by gratitude. When we acknowledge that “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17) That gratitude empowers our generosity. Besides the foundation of gratitude here are some key thoughts that help us walk in generosity:
- God is generous.
At the heart of our faith is John 3:16 which states, “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” God paid the highest price to give us the ultimate gift, salvation through His Son. Just as people come up to my children and sometimes say “you look like your father” we too should bear a family resemblance to our Heavenly Father.
- Our giving matters to Jesus.
There is a fascinating story in Mark chapter 12 where Jesus goes to the temple and sat down to watch the offering. Author James Merritt points out that wherever Jesus went people wanted a front row seat to see what he would do next, open the eyes of the blind, feed thousands or even raise the dead. But this incident is the one time Jesus wants a front row seat and it’s to watch people give. Jesus loves generosity. He notices a widow who put in two mites (the least valuable coin in circulation). No one else would notice this gift but Jesus knows this is all she has to live on. No modern financial planner would recommend this woman’s actions but Jesus commends this radical generosity. “Jesus calculates what we give not by how much the gift was worth, but by how much the gift really cost” (Character Still Counts, James Merritt, 131). Seriously, Jesus enjoys and admires generosity.
- Start small.
You don’t have to give someone your kidney in order to be generous. Shovel the driveway of an older person in your church or neighborhood. Dr. David Faust says “Kind deeds are a language everyone understands” (Lifted By Love, 130). As a minister who has done dozens of funerals over the last two decades it amazes me how the simple acts of kindness are most often what is remembered by those left behind when someone passes away. Financially many start their generosity journey as children in church being taught to tithe, or give the first ten percent to God’s kingdom. From those humble beginnings many grow into champions of generosity. This week many at our church helped with our Thanksgiving box distribution for those in need. This was a partnership between our congregation and the Fairbanks Food Bank to help people experience a full blown Thanksgiving meal. The Fairbanks community invested dollars and time to makes sure Thanksgiving was special for everyone. Most people gave a little money and/or a little time, but the result was tremendous. Small still means significant.
. God is in the giving business, isn’t it time that we join Him?
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church