Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above… (James 1:17)
Scripture repeatedly expresses God’s gracious generosity in all things, most especially in the gifts of mercy and grace.
God is generous – it’s in God’s nature. And ultimately, it is meant to become ours.
There is a Nigerian proverb that says, “It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.” At the end of the day, true generosity will come from the very core of who we are. In essence, as we come to know God more and are made ever more in Christ’s image, our lives will overflow with the same things that come from the very heart of God. This most definitely includes generosity.
Our world, however, would have us focus on protecting what we have collected and earned over the course of the years. Resources are not endless, so care for you and yours first. Even worse, we often find ourselves believing that those who “have not” are in their situations because they deserve to be destitute.
This worldly mindset is problematic for many reasons. For one, because of the way our world is structured, there are systems in place that keep those who have nothing or next to it in their current state intentionally. In theological terms, it’s called systemic injustice and oppression – and it’s something Jesus spent his earthly life standing against. (Never forget that Jesus was always opposed to those who allowed power to keep others under foot.)
And one of the other reasons this mindset is problematic is that caring only for ourselves leads to isolation and shame. “It is only up to me” are six words that have demolished countless people.
None of us is an island. And hoarding our resources while people are left without basic human necessities, it goes against everything God has ever taught us.
We need to remember that everything we have comes from God. This is ultimately God’s world and we are merely stewards who have responsibility, but no true possession. We have no entitlements, at least where God is concerned. Everything is a gift of God’s generous grace and mercy.
It is essential that we transform the mindset that we need to protect what we own because we have earned it. While it is true we could continue to think that way…
People are hurting. People are starving. People are sick. There are people who cannot read or write or have the chance to learn (which means that their job opportunities are limited). There are people in danger. People who are thirsty. People who feel alone. People who have lost everything. People who feel they have no hope left.
It is our job, as followers of the Living God who gives without counting the cost, to find every way we can to share what we have, as individuals and as communities, to cover people’s needs. But more than that, it is also our job to look at the systems that perpetuate all these problems and start fixing those, too.
Why? Because it’s what Christ did. And as his followers, it’s what we’re supposed to do, too.