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Let’s live generously

I want to be as generous as Marc Shifano. Everything he has is available to me or you if we need it. He’s quick to love. 1 Corinthians 13 says “love believes the best about people.” That’s Marc. It’s a generous way to live; it feeds your spirit.    Too many times in my life, unconvi…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
I want to be as generous as Marc Shifano. Everything he has is available to me or you if we need it. He’s quick to love.
1 Corinthians 13 says “love believes the best about people.” That’s Marc. It’s a generous way to live; it feeds your spirit. 
 
Too many times in my life, unconvinced of the generosity of God, afraid of losing the little that I had, I sparingly doled out to others in need. An earthquake leaves hundreds of thousands of orphans, but I don’t tap my 401k. I don’t look into the possibility of adopting one of them.
 
Others may think me generous; they may see the times when I’ve said “yes,” but I see the times when I could have said “yes” and didn’t. Occasionally, I’ve surprised myself, giving what I had before doing a mental inventory of my resources. But usually I feel like the cautious steward trying to reckon the return before I give.
 
What about you? How are you doing with this issue? Are you convinced of God’s provision and the cornucopia of his resources? Or have you felt yourself scraping bottom once too many times so that you find it difficult to trust him?
 
Generous living is the wellspring of grace. If people feel that our time and other precious resources are freely available, it helps them to live generously too. It sloshes over into their lives – they can’t help the prompting inside to give. Jesus said when someone asks you for the shirt off your back to give it to him. And people like Marc do that – giving is just a reflex.
 
A life of generosity is rooted in an inner Spirit-fueled freedom – keep giving and your actions crowd out your normal inclinations to think of yourself first. I love the exhortation of Galatians 5:16 in this regard, “Live, freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.”
 
A life where your own needs motivate your actions is a form of slavery. Taken to an extreme, you can become a kind of Gollum ruminating over those things you find precious. But who wants to end up that way? Does anybody reading this really want to spend most of their time and money on themselves?
 
“He had a good job, put money in the bank and went on some fun vacations.” Is that how you want to be remembered?
 
Sometimes in this hardscrabble world, we may feel so pressed down by life and its pressures that we grow cynical about the possibility of living generously. And that’s a place where the enemy of our souls wants to keep us.
 
When we’re stuck in a place defined by impossibility and personal need, God is not looking for us to defy spiritual gravity and will our own freedom. He’ll do the heavy lifting by setting us free from the tyranny of self-interest if we’ll just humble ourselves, set down what we perceive as needs, and allow his generous spirit room enough to work.

Comments (8)

  • Hello friend…

    This touched me as I was heading to bed and reflecting on exotic vacations, children who always had the latest Ipods and laptops, a spouse who never lacked for anything financially and a “Christian” world in my sphere caught up with “stuff”.

    That is all I’ll say except for this.

    You and Karen along with AIM have my respect.

    That doesn’t come freely.

    Shalom.

  • I, too, love to freely give. And I often can do so without reservation. But every now and then, that old selfish side of me rears its ugly head and I stop and think about what I could buy for me if I don’t give it all away…just a part of it. And then I’m torn between, well, don’t I deserve to have some things I want, and, it’s all God’s anyway, give it away and if He wants me to have that whatever, He will give it to me. But then, will He really give it to me? And then, does it really matter? I mean, do I really NEED it anyway? It just gets to be a tug of war between selfish and selfless. I want to be selfless. It’s not always easy. It’s a lot easier when you are somewhere like Haiti, however.
    Good stuff, Seth. db

  • God is teaching me that living with open hands means bi-directional blessing. When my hands are open, giving is natural, unforced, a pleasure. Both giver and receiver are blessed.

    God is free to give and take whatever He desires. It is all His anyhow.

    Closed hands can neither give to God nor receive from Him. That visual reminds me to live with open hands. So I may ask myself ‘what would Jesus do with it?’

    I believe He traveled light and I want to also. I’d like God to know me as a generous, cheerful giver. Living generously means giving generously. Thank you for this post. It is like a billboard that reads, “You are heading in the right direction. Keep moving forward.”

  • Putting money in the bank, having a “good” job and going on a few increddible vacations is not how I want to be remembered.

    God does call us to give generously and with reckless abandon for Him and His glory.

    Having people like Marc in my life as examples of how to live for God and not self is awesome. A life spent really pursuing God is a life spent learning and continually seeing areas of me that need to die to let God move more.

  • We had “pajama church” last night with the kids and I read them a story about George Mueller, who returned $200 to a donor wanting to start a reserve fund for his orphanage, but Mueller insisted having an account would cause him to trust more in the bank than in the unlimited resources of God!

    Yes, I want to be more like Mueller and Marc! I love the guys who live with audacious faith.

  • I struggle with the word “deserve” and what it has come to mean in our Western culture. It really needs to be replaced by “entitled to” don’t you think?

    My world view has been changing over time. I often reflect on why it took me to meet Jesus until I was 41…I grew up on the theology of self sufficiency and ran the world…until I was so desperate, I came face to face with Christ, and have slowly been growing and transforming in my life following him, but boy is it a slow and painful process…

    We have a Vietnamese daughter we brought home when she was five months old. We came face to face with a different culture, poverty and the face of Christ, although I didn’t recognize it as such…and life and death, as we passed a chaotic accident scene where a cyclist had been hit and killed by a truck on the way to the orphanage to provide our new daughter with a new life…and we have spent time in Honduras…those experiences jolted me in my view of what I had, thought I needed and pushed me over the edge.

    We are doing some updates in our home. And I struggled with this. Do I really need this? I could live without it, etc. etc. But what really causes pause is when people say, “You deserve it.” Do I? Do I really? I don’t think so. What people deserve are dignity, clean water and to be loved. Well, then there is that old sin problem…

    But I think the antidote is trust and generosity, and Chery’s comment about open hands being a bi-directional blessing is so true.

    Thanks for prompting more thought, which hopefully for many leads to commitment to live out, generosity.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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