One of the outstanding characteristics of Christ followers is that of generosity. It is what stood out in the early church and it is the thing that often surprises non-Christ followers today and gets their attention.
What is generous living? It is a willingness to share what we have with those around us, to meet needs that we can meet and seeing our resources as belonging to God and not to us. It is also a culture that can be encouraged in our congregations.
Mary Ann and I, for example, for years have chosen to rarely sell possessions that we no longer need but to give them away. Our vehicles are available to others who may need them. Our giving includes individuals who are in need that God has laid on our hearts to help. Our frequent flyer miles often go to others who need tickets. All of us have different opportunities and abilities to be generous but all of us can be generous. It is a matter of our mindset and seeing whatever God has given us as His to use on His behalf.
Generosity does not just apply to our goods. It applies to our time! Paul calls it “being rich in good deeds” (1 Timothy 6:18). A meal to those who need it, praying for those who are hurting, a visit to someone in the hospital or retirement home, a word of encouragement. Everyone can be rich in good deeds. Each of us has certain skills that can be generously shared with others.
This is all about living with open hands and open hearts. Like God, when He sent His Son. Like Jesus in the incarnation. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus gave His very life for us and we often hang on to our stuff and live selfishly rather than generously.
Paul told Timothy to “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).