3 Ways to Cultivate a Life of Generosity
In our culture, generosity seems to be on its way to extinction. Everyone is only looking out for themselves and we are all too busy with our own lives to care about anyone else. We walk around wondering what happened to our joy and wondering why the holidays are so challenging and I think we could find the answer by rediscovering the purpose and life of generosity that God has called us to. So how do we dig the wells of generosity in our lives?
1.Be thankful, even when you don’t feel like it. Let’s face some tough realities—it is hard to be grateful after a rough year. Maybe you have lost a loved one or experienced an illness in your own life or within your family. Maybe you have gone through a divorce or family drama has become a real obstacle. Whatever it is, it’s at this point where it is easy to slowly allow our joy to dissipate. After facing loss, disappointment, frustration and perhaps loneliness, we may struggle trying to come up with what you are grateful for as you reflect on this year. It’s easy to look back and rehearse everything that didn’t go our way.
After grieving the loss of what didn’t work out at some point we must release it into God’s hands and believe that He has a plan. It is important that even in the midst of pain, you look back at what you faced this last year and you become thankful—maybe not about what happened, but that you are still here. God was with you and He led you through that dark time. Be thankful for the little things and recognize the moments where you felt like you were at the end of the rope and He met you there. Maybe this wasn’t a triumphant year for you, but either way He walked you through this year.
Matthew 5: 3-4
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
2. Give as a discipline until it becomes natural. If you have come from a family that wasn’t hospitable or didn’t have a lot of money, it almost feels abnormal to give to others. Sometimes we were generous at one point in our lives, but because of the storms of this life, you began holding onto everything, because you learned that what you have could easily be taken. Whatever place you find yourself in right now, start becoming intentional about giving.
When we say “giving” everyone thinks about money, but it’s not always money that we hold onto the tightest. Sometimes it is bitterness, un-forgiveness, our time, our talents and abilities that we become stringy with. If you’ve ever been taken advantage of because of your talent, than it is definitely a challenge to be willing to give of yourself again and open yourself up for possible disappointment. Begin to think of ways you can give during this holiday season through all the means that you have and challenge yourself to push through the doubt and fear and learn to become a giver.
3. Reflect on the goodness of God. Why live a generous life? Not only does God ask us to in His Word, it is in generosity that we remember who God really is. Christians should be the biggest givers in all avenues of life because we have been given so much. In Luke 7 there is the wonderful story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and dried his feet with her hair. Jesus said of her, “She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal” (Luke 7:47 Message).
If we have strayed from a life of gratitude, we may need to go back to the cross. We may need to return to the feet of Jesus and remember what He has done for us. If this last year has been full of the unpleasant unexpected, take a moment, grieve over the loss and disappointment and then look up and remember the joy of your salvation. You are forgiven—all of your mistakes, all of your failure, all of your weaknesses and shortcoming are forgiven. You have been forgiven much, therefore you can love generously because you are loved generously.
You have the power each day to give of the light that is inside of you to others. You have something to give, because He gave something for you. You have the opportunity to take money that was once used for evil purposes and redeem it for good. You have the opportunity to give of the special talents and gifts that God has created in you to serve others. You have the opportunity to love well because He loves you well. You have the opportunity to bring peace to a situation because He is peace and He lives in you. And as you give, you will find your joy. As you live a generous life you will thrive, because if we don’t give…we will have lost what we were created for.
~ Michelle Kennedy