Category Archives: generosity

Serving for God’s Glory

We live in a challenging time.  Concern about coronavirus and new health issues, such as monkeypox, is high.  Inflation is skyrocketing, social issues are dividing our country, violence and drug use at rampant, and people are concerned about their futures. Yet, in the midst of all the strife and chaos, it is possible to have peace in your hearts and live a life full of purpose.

Woman gripping her hands to her head, as she tries to deal with the stress of life.
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My sense of peace and purpose come from my relationship with Jesus Christ. As I seek Him and turn to Him in my times of trouble, the Holy Spirit fills me with “the peace that passes understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)  I, in turn, have a responsibility to share the love of Jesus Christ with those around me.

Woman at peace on a beach at sunrise.  She is lifting her hands, as if in praise for the new day.
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Jesus calls His followers to be faithful stewards of that which he has entrusted to us.  Faithful stewardship demands that I view all that I have as belonging to God.  The resources that I have been given to me by God and are to be used according to His wishes. 

Knowing how God wants to me to use those resources requires that I read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. As I do, God will reveal to me His plans and purpose for my life.  We know from God’s Word that He intends for us to share our resources with those who are less fortunate than us.  So, we give to charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse.

Today, we need to do more than make donations and let someone else take care of the poor and needy. We each must earnestly seek God and His direction.

In the book of 1 Peter 4:7-11, we read about how we can be faithful stewards.  This passage is from The Message:

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!”

People preparing boxes of food and medicine to share with those in need.
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Give cheerfully and generously.  Speak God’s words.  Help in the way God directs you.

Be a faithful steward who calls attention to the Lord.  Point people to Jesus.

Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can the world find the peace we so loudly claim to desire.

And do all for the glory of God.

Being God’s Arms Extended

In our church, we often use the phrase “God’s arms extended.” We use this when speaking about reaching out into our community and sharing God’s love through service, ministry, and prayer.

To my knowledge, the phrase “God’s arms extended” does not appear in the Bible. However, Jesus expressed the importance of doing this in Matthew 25: 31- 46. He was teaching His disciples about things that will happen when He returns to rule over the earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25: 31 – 34

Jesus explains that those who offered food and drink to the hungry and thirsty, extended hospitality to the stranger, clothed those in need, cared for the sick, and visited the imprisoned are the sheep. Those who failed to extend assistance and compassion are the goats. Those who cared for others will receive eternal life, and those who did not will receive eternal damnation.

We had a missionary, Mark, speak in our church on Sunday. He shared that early in his ministry in Africa, he had not learned enough of the language to preach and teach. For a time, Mark was limited to embracing children and engaging them in sports. He began to get discouraged that he could not do more. As he prayed, Mark said something along the lines of, “All I can do is hug the children.” In his spirit, Mark clearly heard the Lord say, “Thank you.”

Mark realized that when we, as God’s people, show love to others, we allow God to show love through us. As Mark hugged the children, he was allowing God to wrap His arms around these precious little ones. Mark was literally being God’s arms extended.

What a beautiful picture! God wants to provide for the hungry, thirsty, needy, sick, and imprisoned. And, He does provide through us.

The next time you see someone in need, afraid, or discouraged, I pray that this illustration will come to mind and that you will take the opportunity to be God’s arms extended.

Please feel free to share an instance in which you knew that God was using you to be His hands extended.

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Thanking Those Who Provide Service


My life was made much easier during the past year and a half by those who did not have the option of working from home and social distancing.  Grocery clerks, postal workers, delivery people, truck drivers, and many other were out in the public every day so that the rest of us had access to the things we needed.  Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to thank those who sacrificed for the rest of us. 

Here’s some ideas to show appreciation:
1) Hand-written note.  Do you know that is takes only about 3 minutes to write a thoughtful, sincere thank you note?  Set aside time each week between now and Thanksgiving to write a couple of thank you notes to those who have most impacted your life during covid. If you will mail your cards, allow extra time as postal deliveries are taking longer than in the past.

2) Gift cards.  Consider purchasing gift cards for those who provide services to you regularly. Gift cards can be included with thank you notes, or you can write a quick “thank you for your service” message on the card. Of course, budget for the gift cards and stick to your budget. A sincere thank you is more important than the amount of the card.

3) Holiday tipping. Many of us tip those who provide service to us more at Christmas than at other times. This year, consider giving tips at Thanksgiving instead of, or in addition to, your Christmas tip. 

Thank you note and flowers
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As you take time this Thanksgiving to meditate on God’s blessings, ask Him to bring to your mind those who have made your covid-experience more comfortable. He will guide you to remember those who will be truly blessed by your heartfelt and sincere message that you have been blessed by their hard work and sacrifice.

How Will You Use Your Economic Impact Check?

By now you have likely received your third economic impact, or stimulus, check from the government. The stated intent of these checks was two-fold: to assist those whose income has been negatively impacted by covid and to stimulate the economy and support small businesses.

If you are one of the estimated 18 million people currently receiving unemployment checks, then you probably need the money to meet basic needs for your family. And, of course, you should use the money to meet those needs.

However, if you, like me, have maintained your pre-covid level of income, the stimulus check represents extra money. How will you use this money? Many people are saving the money or paying down debt. In fact, estimates are that more about 71%% of the money distributed in the first round last spring was put into saving or debt reduction and another 18% was used for essentials. That left 11% to go back in the economy. Of that, 8% was spend on non-essential items and 3% was donated to charities. (Ben Wick, https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-stimulus-checks-savings-pay-debts-federal-reserve-cares-act-2020-10)

While it is wise to save and pay down debt, those actions do not help to stimulate the economy–and get people back to work–nor do they help our neighbors who are in need. I encourage you to consider using this third round of stimulus money in more altruistic ways.

In case you need them, here are some ideas:

  • Tithe. For most of us, this money represents an increase. God asks us to give back to His work 10 percent of our income.
  • Donations to Food Pantries. Many people in your community are relying on food pantries to meet their basic needs. Donations are up, yet there is still a significant need.
  • Purchase gift certificates from local restaurants and small shops. These businesses are still struggling and can benefit from the cash influx. My husband and I have bought gift cards that we have no intention of using. We consider the purchase of the gift cards to be donations to help ensure that our favorite restaurants and shops are still operating post-covid.
  • Donate to campaigns to help local shops and restaurants. Many small business are running fundraising events on social media platforms.
  • Shop with independent businesses. One of favorite expenditures has been ordering fresh seafood directly from fisheries. We’ve had salmon and king crab from Alaska, oysters from Pugent Bay, shrimp from New Orleans, and lobster from Maine. The seafood has been shipped directly to our house. It is fresh and delicious, and we are helping fishermen who revamped their business models when their restaurant sales declined.
  • Donations to funds to help pay for childcare and other services for lower-income workers. Many of these workers are struggling to pay for care for children who would normally be in school while they work.
  • Gifts of appreciation to front-line health care workers. Health care professionals in our area are working full-time schedules and then volunteering additional hours to vaccinate the public. There are many ways you can show your appreciation to them and support your local small businesses.

Of course, we are all praying that the vaccines work and coronavirus is soon a passing memory. In the meantime, pray and thoughtfully consider how you can help those in your community who are facing financial challenges from this pandemic.

Money Can Buy Happiness

There’s a famous saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.”  There are many studies that show that having and spending lots of money does not increase happiness.  Michael Norton, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard University, disagrees with that statement, with a caveat.  He says that money can buy happiness IF you spend it right.

How do you spend it right?  By spending it on others.  He did experiments a few years back in which he gave small amounts of money to different groups of people.  Some were instructed to spend it on themselves and the rest were told they had to spend the money on someone else.  Regardless of whom they spent the money on or the amount of money they spent, all who used the money for someone else reported higher levels of happiness at the end of the experiment.

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I love it when scientists, or social scientists in this case, prove the Word of God.  In Acts 20:35, Paul told the Ephesians, “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” is really another way of saying that you can achieve happiness by sharing your money with others.  And, of course, giving doesn’t only involve money.  You can be blessed by sharing your time, talents, and attention with others.  Not all of us have the financial resources to give away large amounts of money. But we all have something we can give.  And, as this study affirmed, even giving small amounts of money can bless someone and increase your level of happiness.

Further more, generosity brings blessings.  Proverbs 22:9 tells us “Whoever has a generous eye will be blessed,” and Proverbs 28:27 says, “He who gives to the poor will not lack.”

I would encourage you to look for opportunities each day to bless someone else with your money, time, or talent.  In this way, you will ensure that your days are blessed and filled with happiness.

 

Paul’s Admonition to be Generous

This morning I read 2 Corinthians 9 during my morning devotions.  Paul devoted the entire chapter to encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous and to fulfill the commitment it had made to assist poorer Christians in Macedonia.  Paul had been bragging to other congregations of the generous gift the Corinthians had promised, and he wanted to insure that the gift would be ready when it was needed.

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As Paul continues through the chapter, he encourages them that God will bless them as they bless others and tells them that it is impossible to out-give God.  Although Paul is speaking specifically about being generous with our money, his words also apply to being generous with people in many other ways, such as love, service, time, attention, guidance, and forgiveness.  Paul says that our obedience in generosity will in enrich our lives and allow God to be even more generous with us, and it will cause people to give thanks and honor to God.

In the final verses of this chapter, Paul writes, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9: 12 – 15, The Message)

How can we not be generous when we read stirring words like these?  Generosity towards others blesses us more than it does the recipients and it brings honor and glory to God.

How has God blessed you after you demonstrated generosity?

God Rewards the Generous

God commands His people to show generosity to those in need, and He promises to bless and reward those who obey this command.  These rewards may be received while on Earth, and they will surely be reaped when we get to Heaven.  Jesus taught this principle during the Sermon on the Mount, saying “When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”  Matthew 6: 3, 4

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Later in the Sermon, Jesus encouraged His followers to store up treasures in Heaven.  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19 – 21

We lay up treasure in Heaven by using our earthly treasure to accomplish God’s purposes.  Randy Alcorn refers to this as ‘transferring wealth to heaven.’  He points out that we cannot take our wealth with us to Heaven when we die, but we can transfer our wealth to Heaven while we are living by using our wealth to show generosity to others.  God judges the work that we do has either have lasting value–gold and silver–or having earthly value–wood, hay, and stubble.  Works that do not have lasting value will be burned up like wood, hay, and stubble at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  When we follow God’s instructions to be generous, we are producing works that of silver and gold, which cannot be destroyed by fire.

The apostle Paul wrote, “ Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”  1 Timothy 6: 17 – 19

Paul told the Ephesians to “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”Acts 20:35

Being generous with those who the Lord puts on your heart to care for will result in blessings both on Earth and in Heaven.  I encourage you to ask the Lord with whom He desires you to show generosity to today and begin building your treasure in Heaven.

Having a Generous Heart

Our motives are important to God. Giving grudgingly or by force is not viewed by God as generosity.  Generosity has to flow from a willingness to help others.  As we more fully grasp the depths of God’s love for us, our love for our fellow man should increase.

When the young lawyer asked Jesus what commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”  Matthew 22: 38 – 40

Paul provided instructions to the Corinthians on how they should prepare gifts for those in need, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.”  2 Corinthians 9:5 

If we truly love God, that love will overflow into love for people.  Thankfulness for the many blessing God has bestowed will manifest itself in sharing those blessings with others.

Jesus taught His disciples to give without expectations, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. ” Luke 6:30 – 35

God supplies our needs and has extended generosity to each us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  We, in turn, should be generous with those in need whom God puts in our path.

Ask God to open your eyes to see those around you who are in need.  Seek His guidance on how to share the blessings He has bestowed on you with others.  Be His hands extended.

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Generosity is a Response to God’s Saving Grace

God exemplified true generosity by providing a means of salvation for all who will accept His free gift.  Romans 5:8 tells us, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived on this earth.  The rest of us are not perfect.  We do not deserve to be saved.  Yet, Jesus went to the cross and paid the price for our sins.   Jesus’s sacrifice was a manifestation of God’s love and generosity.

Because God is generous to us, we should be generous with others.  Generosity should flow from the hearts of Christians in response to God’s love for us.  He has given us so much and we, in turn, give a portion of  it to those around us who are in need.  James tells us that “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27

In the seventh chapter of Zechariah, the people of Israel are crying out to God for relief from their oppressors. They protest that they have prayed, fasted, and mourned.  The Lord tells Zechariah that they are just going through the motions, without having a right heart.  If there hearts were right, they would take care of those in need.  “Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother.”  Zechariah 7: 9, 10

James goes on to say that true faith is demonstrated when we take actions to help our fellow man. “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”  James 2: 15 – 17

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Generosity should not be confused with socialism or income distribution. God has never directed His people to take care of those who are able but unwilling to care for themselves.  In fact, Paul wrote that “the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”  2 Thessalonians 3: 10 

Generosity is to be shown to widows, orphans, and those who are in true need of help.  We should take every opportunity to help those who need help as an outpouring of gratitude to God for His love for us and as a means to demonstrate to those in need that God loves and cares for them.

Blessings from Generosity

God has always instructed His people to be generous to the poor, and He has promised to bless those who obey this instruction.  When God freed  the Israelites after 400 years of captivity in Egypt, He set down rules that they were to follow in order to maintain a right relationship with Him.  Included in those instructions was the command to open their hands to their poor brothers and to willingly lend to those in need, in order to meet their needs.  In return, God promised to bless all the works of their hands.

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,  but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs….You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’ ”         Deuteronomy 15: 7 – 11

 

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God continues to bless His people today, as we show generosity and care for the poor in our communities.  Those who open their hearts and their pocketbooks receive many blessings in return.

Chief among these blessings is happiness.  In “The Paradox of Generosity,” authors Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson report that generosity is associated with increased personal happiness, a sense of purpose, and overall better health.  This should not be surprising to Christians, as God promised happiness to those who are generous: “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Proverbs 14:21

God promises many other blessings to the generous.  These blessings include: 

  • Abundance   “The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25
  • Financial Repayment “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
    And He will pay back what he has given.” Proverbs 19:17 and “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”Luke 6:38
  • Bountiful Harvests.  “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9: 6
  • Needs will be Met  “He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” Proverbs 28:27
  • Blessings “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.”  Proverbs 22:9

My desire is to honor God in the way that I live my life.   In Proverbs 14:31, God makes it clear that we honor Him when we obey His command to be kind to those in need. “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Make, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”  Proverbs 14:31

I encourage you to make it your desire to honor God, and to reap the blessings promised from Him, by being generous to those in need.