Well, school is out, no doubt. With that comes the smell and feel of summer. In fact, it is here. Kids are at home. Vacations are being planned. Graduations and Marriages are on the horizon.
May seem to be an inappropriate time (to some) to launch a 30-day Generosity Journey. Some may think or reason it would be best for the Fall, when people return and school gets back into session. I have to admit, I would probably tend to think along those lines more often than not. But when I heard from the Lord to not delay and to share Lordship – that closed any deal or negotiation with me. So please understand, this is a matter of obedience. It is about hearing from God and simply being submissive to His desire.
This is really captured in the title: “First Things First.” With this blog, we embark on a Jesus-led journey and I simply ask you to go with me as we seek God more intimately and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.
2 Cor 8, v.5 states this: “Their first action was to give themselves to the Lord.”
Now, if I asked you (yes, you) to picture someone who you might consider “generous” – chances are most of us will race to someone, or some family, who is “rich” or “wealthy” or “famous” or “who has everything.” It may be a TV star, a movie producer, a professional athlete, or a Fortune 500 C.E.O. We may even think to ourselves, “If one day I have extra funds, extra cash, then I would be generous too. But right now, I have to take care of my needs.”
In the passage above from 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, we know that these Macedonaian Christian believers and converts that Paul was writing to were going through very challenging and difficult times. They were Gentiles and Corinth was a city known for rampant sin. On top of following the Gospel, the believers were persecuted when caught – as they were elsewhere throughout the Roman Empire. On top of all this, they were poor. Interesting, is it not, how Paul states in this segment that though they were poor, they were generous? Look at v.2: “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”
So, what was their secret to becoming joyful and generous when they had little?
Answer: It started when they first gave themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In our world today – in our nation today – in our communities today – people think it is money, education, upbringing, and social standing or religion that makes someone generous. They don’t. These things are not the major reasons people become generous and live generous lives. There are many people, many people, who have some or all of these things and have not learned how to “overflow” in rich generosity.
To learn and apply what we glean from the Macedonian Christians, we must first and foremost give ourselves fully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This will be our guide in understanding and accepting that ALL we have, and need, comes from God and belongs to God. We will then see ourselves for who we truly are and what we are truly called to be: managers of what God entrusts to us.
It is about faithful, committed living and being. It is about yielding our lives to the Holy Spirit. It is about “being transformed by the renewing of our mind,” (Rom 12) and yes, our attitudes, our dispositions, and even our wallets. It is about equal obedience; not equal gifts. And when this is realized and accepted – we can’t help but become generous. It is the natural product of a right-relationship with God.
Questions to ponder: Would your family and friends say you are a “generous” person? How do you exude generosity in your daily life? What is the last generous and over the top thing you have done for God, for others, and for your church?
Pray on these things.
More to come…so stay tuned. Joy to you and yours!