The following is an excerpt from our Generosity Guide. You can download the whole guide for free here.
Paul isn’t happy for people to merely know Jesus in an individualistic way. Paul’s joy is incomplete unless it’s followed through in generous relationship with each other. That’s an affront to how we normally treat relationships: like consumers. I’ll be friends with this person insofar as they give me what I want (fun, comfort, social standing, validation, etc.). These are byproducts of generous relationships, not the reason for pursuing them in the first place. Paul lifts our eyes off ourselves to Jesus, who leads us in our generosity towards others.
Who God Is
Jesus is humble. If there was anyone to have ever existed who didn’t need to be humble, it’s Jesus. And yet He’s also the most humble. He is God and yet didn’t use that reality to advantage Himself, He used it to advantage others, often at his own disadvantage. This humble Jesus is also glorified above all creation.
What God Has Done
Jesus saw us in our consumeristic ways: we are selfishly ambitious, vainly conceited, valuing ourselves above others, always looking to our own interests despite others’. He saw us in this broken state and had compassion on us, living out His obedience to the Father by dying a criminal and shameful death. Surely there’s no doubt that God loves us and will do whatever it takes to win us to Him!
Who We Are
Through Jesus we are diverse and unified (“like-minded”), we have the “same love”, we’re not bound by a political position or ethical agenda. We are one in spirit and mind together. We have been given new hearts that chase after the things of God first, always looking to others before ourselves. We can do this because through Jesus we have been given everything, now free to live radically generous lives.
What We Do
If we’ve been saved from a consumerist mindset and given a new one, that means we are humble. When conflicts come in our relationships, we don’t seek to get something for ourselves first. We serve the other person even if we don’t think they deserve it. When frustrations in relationships come, we don’t retreat to safety and comfort, we press in and see how we can be obedient and put our ambition and vanity aside. With our lives we get to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, above everything else, even above ourselves.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your overflowing generosity towards me in your sacrifice on the cross. Deliver me from my consumeristic mindset when I believe my life is all about me. Give me opportunities to follow through and live out the generous life you have already won by the cross. Burden my heart to grow as a more generous person for your glory.
Being generous in our relationships require sacrifice. Sometimes that means a sacrifice of time (when we’d rather stay in), a sacrifice of money (if people are in need), or a sacrifice of comfort (if people aren’t exactly like us). Where might be some areas God is calling you to sacrifice in your relationships?
Generosity isn’t something that we’re born with, it’s a skill developed over time, and often slower than we’re comfortable with. What is one small area of your life where you can be more generous in your relationships with others? It’s in these small and faithful daily or weekly steps that determine the trajectory of our lifetime.