Generosity

Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left. ~ Archbishop John Fulton Sheen

The point is this:  whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”  2 Corinthians 9:6-9

What you have left….ouch…

My husband and I are on a quest to scale down our living.  Spending less.  Having less.  Using less.  Weighing less.  All in an effort to serve God; to be more generous.  We have acquired many things having lived in this house for more than 10 years now.  So in preparation for garage sale #2, I am sorting through closets, drawers, basement & attic to decide what we need, what we should keep and what needs to go.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.  Proverbs 19:17

I had a fleeting thought this morning that I should count how many pairs of shoes I personally own.  It passed quickly.  Mostly because I know that I would be embarrassed by the number in the end.  The truth is this – TOO MANY.  Too much stuff.  Too many things.  Items just being stored and not being used.  Items that have no use other than simple decoration.  These will be easy to pass on to others who will benefit from their use.

And then there are the items that are tied to my heart; my grandmother’s cedar chest, my great-grandfather’s trunk, his grandmother’s china, pictures, family Bibles, gifts, memories, family history.  Things that I would prefer stay in our family.  Letting go of these things has been profoundly difficult.  They are reminders of days that have gone past me, of people who have left me, of happiness and of family ties.  Then there are the collections.  Items picked up along the way when we traveled around this great globe; coffee mugs from all around the US, trinkets from Europe, Asia, Central America, etc.  Reminders.  Memories.  We have been very blessed.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Funny… stuff isn’t listed anywhere in God’s word as something to be stored up.  I don’t want my possessions to be idols, and I don’t think they have really become that, but I also can’t move forward with all of this weight.  Good and happy as these memories are, they are just and still memories.  The physical aspect of the memories, the stuff, takes up space and requires care.  It is time to let the dead bury their dead so to speak.  Time to store up some treasure in heaven.

Deciding what is needed is a new concept for me to live out.  The goal is simplicity.  Usefulness.  What do we need to live and serve God?  Not much.  Preparing for the Camino is teaching me that if I want to go a long way, I need to be brutally limiting in what I decided to carry with me.  Do I really need that?  Will I truly use that?  If not, it is out.

He, who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self-sacrifice. ~ Jeremy Taylor

I am starting to think the same way with my time.  How much of my time is spent on things that matter very little to God?  Our culture tries to persuade us that we should do many things.  Most folks are so busy with their own schedules, schedules that they’ve created to achieve goals that they want (not that they need and not that God wants), that they have no time for the things of God – for fellowship, for Bible study, for ministry.  Our culture puts sports and entertainment above the condition of the family.  An education system that tolerates and even teaches things that are contrary to God’s word.

As a Christian wife, mother, sister, daughter, I believe that I have the responsibility to live differently; to look different from this world.  I can live in it, but not be of it.  American values sadly are no longer Christian values; generosity, faithfulness, kindness, forgiveness, trustworthiness, holy living, putting the interest of others before our own, strong marriages, respectful children.  These have faded away to the draw of the almighty dollar, greed, idolatry, sexuality, immorality.

Father God, let my measure of generosity be what I keep for myself.  Help me to let go and to follow You.  As I examine my own life and my own choices, let me offer grace to those who live differently.  Help me to be humble before You.  Help me to live in such a way, that others see Your glory.  My excess has not been a good testimony.  Forgive me Lord Jesus.  Help me to live a quiet and simple life that serves You well.  Amen.

A radical life change to release us from the bondage of stuff so that we may be generous in the name of Jesus Christ.  A radical life change that leads us to simplicity, freedom, grace and God.

Count your shoes.

Decide this day whom you will follow and serve.

Be encouraged.  Press on.

Joshua 24.15

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