For most people, when they read this verse, they think it’s all about money or material possessions. But I would challenge you today to be generous with yourself. It means blessing others with your smile and giving them the gift of a cheerful heart. It means seeking out the good in someone, and then of affirming and encouraging that good. For when you sow generously of yourself…others can not help but see the outer reflection of an inner attitude of Christ’s love.
We see a need…the Holy Spirit nudges us to give, whether that be our money, time, or talents…but we resist, make excuses, or just plain say, “No way!” The very greatest thing we can learn from this Proverb is to not repress a generous impulse. For when we silence that compulsion to be unselfish…we are denying others and ourselves a blessing. We are stopping God from using us to further His Kingdom work…and we are depriving ourselves of His favor. So don’t suppress a generous impulse when it happens…for the Lord is depending on you to fill that specific need.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.
God is a generous giver and His desire is to bless us. It says in James 1:17 that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” So as big-hearted as God is towards us, we need to reflect that generosity in our giving to others. But He’s not just talking about money here…for it’s easy to give money. No, He’s talking about our time…and we’re probably more tight-fisted about that than any amount of money we’d give. Proverbs 21:26 tells us, “The righteous give without sparing.” So if you’ve been stingy with your time for the Lord…think of this…you will never be able to out give God.
As Believers we are called to be a generous people…and this was displayed vividly this morning in Church. Our Pastor announced that as we left each family would be receiving a plain white envelope with cash inside ranging from $20- $100. We were to consider this a starting point to bless others during this holiday season. The Lord has called all of us to be missional…reaching outside the Church walls to help others. For we are to be His ambassadors… shining His light, expanding His Kingdom, and seeking to leave an eternal impact on our community and world. (A direct quote from the note enclosed in the envelope.) As I hold this bill in my hand, I know the Lord will not only direct us as to how much we are to add to it, but who we should bless with it.
You can ask my husband, I intentionally engage checkout clerks, wait staff and anyone else who may be helping me. I am polite and courteous, asking how their day is going and allowing them to talk. I ask thoughtful questions and encourage them with kind-hearted words. The other day I was speaking to a sleepy looking cashier at a large retail store…come to find out he had worked until 1am and was back again at 4am for his next shift. Sadly, we become so focused on our own agenda…our own needs…our own impatience – that we totally forget that it’s another human being standing in front of us, with their own story. I challenge you this holiday season to give a kind word to all those assisting you…for you don’t know how it may cheer them up.
It’s been amazing to watch the immense fields of corn and soybeans growing around us. The farmers have planted the greatest amount they can in order to have the most abundant harvest possible. Blessing others works the same way. If we are open-handed with our generosity…we ourselves will be blessed in return. For it says in Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Sow generously into the Kingdom of God with open hands and an open heart…for a man reaps what he sows.