"18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others.” 1 Timothy 6:18 CEB
It was just a normal stop in for lunch and some conversation. There were four of us in the party and each one ordered their food without any fanfare, or even much interaction with the person behind the counter taking the orders. The last person to order looked at the person and asked them how they were doing. They asked if it had been a busy day or a slow one. Then they placed their order like everyone else. At the end of the order they asked, “I would really like a piece of that chocolate banana pie, can you make that happen?” They were just having a little bit of fun with the person taking their order. Of course, they got the full order ready—including a piece of chocolate banana pie. When the last person in our party went to pay the cashier said, “The pie is on me.” We all shared the pie and it was a wonderful treat that had been generously offered by someone who did not have to. She offered generosity to a customer simply because they had treated her well.
I have come to believe that we are all generous people at our core. It is in our DNA—it’s who we are. This is why we enjoy giving gifts at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. We enjoy seeing the reaction of the person receiving the gift. It’s great to see someone smile when they are given something—especially when the gift is unexpected. We are made to be generous with our time, talents, gifts, service, and witness. It seems like at some time in our life we learn to do the opposite. We begin to be told that we should stock up for a rainy day and protect our stuff, and the more stuff the better. However, do we really need all the stuff we already have? Is it really necessary to continue to accumulate in excess? In most cases we don’t accumulate money to excess, but there are examples of that to be certain. Most of the time we truly accumulate stuff. What if we learned to live with less and were generous with the rest?
The Bible seems to uphold the notion of living a simple, yet generous, life. Proverbs 15:6, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” We also find the generous lifestyle of the early church in Acts 2:44, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as they had need.” Finally, Proverbs 11:24 reads, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” We know also that Jesus told his disciples that he did not even have a place to lay his head. Yet, Jesus gave more than anyone out of the wealth that he did have. Here are some of the phrases that speak of the generosity of Jesus Christ—“healed ALL the sick,” “he healed ALL their sick," “ALL who touched him were healed,” “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and “I can never stop thanking God for all the generous gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” We serve a generous God who sent a generous savior so that we might be generous followers.
Will you be generous today? Generous with your time—especially with those you love. Will you be generous with your talents and abilities? Will you be generous with your financial gifts to support the work of Christ in this world? Will you be generous in your service to others? Finally, will you be generous in your witness to the world concerning Christ’s love? We are called to be generous with our whole life because we are created by a generous God. To be generous means to be liberal in giving or openhanded. Will you live an openhanded life today? Will you hold loosely the things of this world and liberally give your time, talents, gifts, service, and witness? We are generous people created by a generous God—be generous!
This Sunday we conclude the message series Influence: A Study of 1 Timothy. We will discuss the influence of generosity. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!