What does a generous life look like? This has been a question I’ve been spending some time with lately. “A Generous Life” is the theme for the 2023 Stewardship emphasis at FBC Columbus (Sept. 25 & Oct. 2) but it’s also a terrific goal for us as Christ followers.
Are you living a generous life? Consider that question. Don’t be too quick to dismiss or move past it. Think about it. But I have to warn you, it can be convicting!
I believe a generous life is within reach of each of us when we find its roots in who we are becoming in Jesus. In John 14:9 Jesus shares a conversation with his disciple Phillip. Philip has said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” To which Jesus responds, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” It’s easy to skip past this insight, but let’s not do that. When we see Jesus, when we know him, experience him, discover more about him; we are in fact looking at the very nature of God. Jesus is God. God is Jesus. That’s what he wanted Philip, and what he wants us to know.
So, what do we see in Jesus? We see one who is generous. He is generous with his time, with his attention, with his capacity to heal, to forgive, to give people a second chance. Jesus is generous with his love. Why? Because God is generous. God is at God’s very nature a giver. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . . (John 3:16)”
Living a generous life is not about being rich in the ways the world measures richness. It is about how we share our resources, but those resources include so much more than our financial wealth. We, like Jesus, are called as his followers to be generous with our time, our attention, the gifts God has given us, our love, our extending forgiveness.
What is a generous life? It’s a question answered in multiple ways. You know it when you see it. And you also recognize it’s absence in the lives of others you see. For example, when someone is too guarded with his or her time, talent, or treasure generosity is most likely not to be found. If we are more concerned about our “boundaries” or “being taken advantage of” or not doing more than “contractually required” – generosity is not part of our obvious makeup. It just isn’t.
I write this rather bluntly because it’s something I’ve had to learn. I strive to live in more generous ways as I continue to mature in Jesus. For me, one who is inclined to guard or measure energy as an introvert, or time as a busy person, or investment as a thrifty person; this has meant allowing Jesus to rule my day, my calendar, my checkbook – my life.
If you are living a generous life in today’s western, consumer culture of “me, my, and mine” (the unholy trinity) – or just trying to; good for you! You are swimming upstream against a fast cultural current. But you are also swimming the strokes of Jesus, the ways of God, and the faith of a Christ follower.
We need more generosity in our world today. We just do. We need it in the Church and outside the Church. We need it in the workplace, the neighborhood, in our schools and helping institutions. Jesus invites us to grow into this characteristic of his – to make it our own, to live generously. Will we? That’s the rest of the story that remains before us to be written. Let’s write it well.