GIVE GENEROUSLY – To What Extent Will You Give?
To what extent will you give?
14 Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the food allowance of the governor. 15 The former governors who were before me laid heavy burdens on the people and took from them for their daily ration forty shekels of silver. Even their servants lorded it over the people. But I did not do so, because of the fear of God. 16 I also persevered in the work on this wall, and we acquired no land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table 150 men, Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now what was prepared at my expense for e**ach day was one ox and six choice sheep and birds, and every ten days all kinds of wine in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the food allowance of the governor, because the service was too heavy on this people. 19 Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people. — Nehemiah 5:14-19
Generosity seems to be a word like so many others now, a word whose meaning has been hijacked to mean things that aren’t really the definitions of the word or in uses that just don’t fit. In fact, it can be thrown around completely out of context so much that we begin to see generosity as something it is not, something on which we’ve lowered the bar entirely.
The definition of the word generosity means “liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish.” Before we can even continue, though, we need to know what “liberal” actually means for it is another word that has numerous connotations. Perhaps we can replace it with some synonyms: abundant, copious, ample, plentiful, lavish, profuse. All of these words have to do with giving over and above what one is capable of doing.
We have settled for less when it comes to giving generously. We’ve relegated it to billionaires signing pacts to give away half of their money before they die. That is a great thing, but that is not generosity when it comes to that which God describes as being generous. Being generous, giving generously, are things that require us to live on less for the sake of others. This is what Jesus did, as He had nothing, sharing everything, and gave something that is more generous than we can fathom: His life.
The rearrangement of how we live and steward what God’s given us is what can help us be even more generous. It is what flows out of our heart. That only happens when we understand just how loving, how giving, how generous our God has been with us. As we change some of our habits, we will begin to understand true generosity, and we will being to see it as necessary, not only for the sake of others, but for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom!
All we need for a reminder is the parable Jesus taught about the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44: And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” May we, too, learn to give generously out of our poverty.
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