Thanksgiving has come and gone. Looking back, I think I forgot to say grace before I devoured the turkey. I hurried my way thru “Giving Tuesday without giving a second thought to any of the organizations that popped up in my in box. Christmas is on the horizon and I’ve spent most of my free time this week decorating the house and thinking about me. To add even more “humble pie” to my “Holiday Confessions,” I was looking over my journal this morning and re–read the New Year’s resolutions I made eleven months ago. It said, “I want to be more grateful and more generous in 2021!”
Jesus said, we will be far happier giving than receiving. Jesus valued radical generosity. Like the generous widow--who gave all she had to live on—Jesus gave everything he had, including his very life, so others would know the super–abundant love of God. I want to follow the way of Jesus but the truth is, it’s difficult to emulate his radical generosity in a consumer–based culture that’s hyped–up and driven by what Walter Brueggemann calls the myth of scarcity—the false narrative that says there’s simple not enough to go around so we better hoard all we can for ourselves.
In my book, Think Red, I reflect on the radical generosity of Jesus and highlight a few things to consider if we want to resist the myth of scarcity and free ourselves to be more generous.
First: realize generosity is on a continuum. At any time we can decide to take intentional steps towards the generous way of Jesus. Those steps begin with trusting in God’s super-abundant grace and being grateful for God’s good gifts.
Second: affirm the Imago Dei. All humanity is created in the image of a generous, self–giving God, which means our true nature is to give. I believe that’s why Jesus said we are far happier giving than receiving.
Third: be inspired by the generosity of others. Generosity is contagious. When we spend time with others who give abundantly and freely we will discover there is always more. More joy, more freedom, more grace is added to the one who gives with a cheerful heart.
Fourth: specific and simple plans for giving are always more effective than grandiose and general resolutions. “This year I’m going to be more generous!” is not as effective as saying, “Today I’m going to give the guy living under the viaduct a bottle of water and learn his name!”
Finally: praying and asking for God’s help is always a good idea. The Spirit of God will help us cultivate a generous heart if we ask. Here’s a helpful prayer I discovered in Brueggemann’s book, Celebrating Abundance.
God, whose giving knows no end, make us glad recipients of your generosity. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to remember your abundance, that we might share it with the world.
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Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.