For me, generosity used to look like this:
- Step 1: Pick random charity, probably missional to feel extra “Christian”
- Step 2: Don’t think too much about the amount, £100 will do and won’t affect me too much
- Step 3: Feel pretty smug, the generosity box has been ticked
- Step 4: Don’t think about it, repeat next month
I think I fell into the trap of faithless giving because I didn’t quite appreciate the power of the Holy Spirit and the relational nature of giving. While I’m sure God must have still worked in my previous approach to giving, how much was I willing to invite him to work in me?
I began turning to the Spirit and asking God to reveal things in my everyday life that could be an opportunity to generously serve others, and therefore him (read Matthew 25:31-40). The Spirit started showing me things my friends were saying, whether about themselves or others, and the needs that people had; time, money, words of affirmation, food. Some of these were desperate needs, some were nice-to-haves. Some from people who seemingly had less than I, and some who I perceived to have more. But none of it was a distant charity that I had no real relationship with. These are people God has placed in my life for a reason. He does not make mistakes.
Remember how we learned that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? We can be generous by letting people know that we love them; by spending time serving them, praying for them and simply telling them. We can be generous joyfully, because serving others is serving the Lord. We can be generous peacefully, because no amount of giving affects our salvation – it is a free gift and we are generous because we rejoice in that. We can be generous with forbearance, giving up an easy day off to go and be with someone who needs us. We can be generous by being kind, with words of encouragement – it doesn’t always have to be about financial giving. We can see the goodness in generosity, because God so loved us that He gave his only Son: giving is good. We can be faithful when we are generous, knowing God has placed people in our lives for a reason, and he has equipped us to the full. Being generous can be gentle, to hold back speaking badly of others and instead showing perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3:2). Being generous can require self-control, being patient as we put other’s needs before our own, just as Christ did for us on his long journey to the cross.
All of this comes by simply inviting the Spirit to be at the forefront of our generosity. Generosity isn’t about ticking a box, it’s about actively walking in step with the Spirit. My faith and love for Jesus have multiplied as a result, because I get to see him work and appreciate how he uses us for his glory.
What an overwhelming, life-changing joy to know that YOU are being used by God. He sees YOU, he builds YOU up, so that you might build up others and His kingdom.
Why don’t you start by asking Him to reveal just one thing in your life this week where you can generously shine His light?