A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a trip with our high school students to Guatemala. God worked in so many ways during that trip that it would take several blog posts to tell of it. One thing that really impacted me and the team though was the generosity of the villages we visited. The church we partnered with emphasizes generosity in these villages and the importance of living generously. In each village we went to, the kids had gifts for us that they had either made or had gotten from the resources they had. In one village, they had taken palm leaves and made intricately woven items such as fishes or baskets. In another village, they gave us each coconuts to drink from. I feel safe speaking on behalf of our team in saying that those were blessings of infinite proportions. These villages did not have a lot in terms of worldly possessions. Many houses were tied together with sheets of metal. Kids had to share shoes as they walked down the dirt roads. The soccer ball they kicked around was flatter than a punctured tire. Yet there was so much joy that it was contagious. Their smiles stretched from ear to ear. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life and also such a representation of the heart of Jesus.
The heart of generosity goes deeper than what it appears on the surface. Generous hearts give even when it hurts. And it doesn’t just have to be money. Generosity can extend to your time, your gifts, your relationships, etc. Generosity is costly but it is also one of the purest ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Jesus was so generous that he gave up his claim to heaven to come down to earth and live amongst his creation who didn’t even recognize him for who he was. All so that we would be saved from eternal punishment and separation from God.
Grace was the gift that was given on the cross. Grace can be defined as undeserved favor. Gifts are in essence, acts of grace. What have you done to deserve a Christmas gift? Or a birthday gift? Or that kind card you got in the mail? Or that coconut from a tree on the side of a mountain village in Guatemala? On the flip side, how have you felt when someone received a gift with gratitude that you had given? Your heart is the true determining factor in this matter. If you give to get noticed or feel good about yourself, the result will be happiness for a time, until it wears off. If you give a gift out of obligation, it becomes more of a matter of the head than the heart. But if you give with no thought for yourself, out of the genuine love in your heart, the result will be an overflowing joy. Happiness is temporary, but joy is eternal.
How much time, money, or resources you give is not behind generosity. It is the posture of the heart. Paul tells the Corinthian church about the generosity of the Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8. He says, “their (the Macedonians) abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” “Extreme poverty” and “wealth of generosity” usually do not go hand in hand in the same sentence, let alone having joy be the catalyst. But that was the heart of the Macedonian church and that is the heart of Jesus. They were so eager to help in the work of God that despite being in extreme poverty, they gave generously to the church in Jerusalem. When giving from your time, treasure, and talents, you are bestowing grace and modeling the life of Jesus to others. When it comes from the overflow of joy, it becomes contagious. The one question that will always permeate a discussion of this nature is, how much should I give? How much time? How much money? No one can give you that answer except God. Ask Him how he wants you to be generous. When you give, you are serving not man, but God. He has given us the very breath of his life. Ask God how you can give back to Him.
Scripture Meditations for this week: