Generosity Resources By Zach Zienka
There is a moment near the end of the Hobbit when the battle is over and the search for the mountain’s treasures has ended. Thorin pulls Bilbo near and says his final words to him: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” It’s a powerful line laced with irony considering the entire adventure has been about seeking out hoarded gold. The sentiment remains though; our constant striving to gain worldly treasures has rendered the world much less “merrier”. We have a false understanding of value blinding us to what truly brings joy. The call to generosity is a call to reassess reality. It might feel like those who are so generous live in some fantasy world and that those of us who hold tight to our money and time really know how the world works. But if we really take Jesus seriously, we will see the world has conditioned us. We have all been fed a lie that there is not enough. A lie that says the only way to live is to take, take, take and gain, gain, gain.
Darin explored this past Sunday that Genesis paints an entirely different picture. God creates a garden of abundance and places the humans there to work and expand the fruitfulness of the Garden to the ends of the world. Our world was bursting with potential and resources and our sin was not trusting that God had given us enough. Since then, we have been fighting, struggling, and exhausting ourselves to gain the world. As Jesus showed, the cost of that battle is never worth the reward.
God demonstrated true generosity by his gracious gift of Jesus. Jesus breaks us free from the matrix to experience life as God intended. We rebel against the system which urges us to worry only about self by caring for the needs of others. By the means of our gifts, time, finances, and resources we can pass on the grace of God to others. Here are some ways you can start to live out the generous vision of Jesus:
- The entire arsenal of spiritual disciplines will shape your generosity. I will give Darin the benefit of the doubt that generosity was purposely one of the later spiritual disciplines we studied. All the disciplines we have studied so far are necessary practices for becoming generous. A good prayer life will lead to us to be more attune to God’s prompting. Fasting causes us to pause and truly rely on God for our needs. A good habit of Sabbath takes us out of the race to see that we are truly not in control. All of these rhythms (along with the work of the Holy Spirit of course!), work together to shape us more like the most generous person to walk this earth: Jesus of Nazareth.
- Generosity is more than but never less than a conversation about money. The reality is that many of us are not blessed with an abundance of monetary wealth. Some will be called to use the money in more ways than others. All of us are called to examine our trust and love for money just as we are called to do so with everything in our life that is not Jesus. A spirit of generosity extends to the giving of our time, the use of our talents, the kindness of our words, and the actions of caring and loving others. Generosity extends to the whole lot of our life. One practical step is to list out the gifts you have been given (money, time, talents, etc.) and where you use them. Bring this list before God and ask him to reveal areas where your generosity can extend.
- Embrace thankfulness. Take a week where each day you journal 10 specific things in your life that you are thankful for. You will find the first few days will be easy as you list the obvious ones. As the week progresses, you will have to think a little harder and dig a little deeper. A life centered on thankfulness is often a life of generosity. When we see the abundance we have been gifted, it can lead to a willingness to give and meet the needs of others.
- Examine the hoard. One of the odd blessings early in my marriage was how often we moved. Our first 4 years was a cycle of packing up and moving somewhere else. The constant packing forced us to reassess what we owned. Most of the time we gave away stuff because we just did not want to pack it but it forced us to look at everything and ask, “is this necessary or can we give this away?”. Thankfully you do not need to pack up and move for this practice. Take a weekend and as a family go through all the stuff, the stuff in your closest, your garage, your storage closet, and openly consider the need for each thing. I bet you will be surprised by all the stuff you do not need. Use this as an opportunity to give. Reach out to friends and family about the things you are giving, give the church a call and see if we can find a use for it, or even donate it to one of the many donation centers in our city.
- Present the firstfruits. I think most people desire to be generous but it takes discipline. Generosity rarely happens when we get to the end of our paycheck, or the end of our week, or the end of energy level and think we will use that leftover bit for others. The Israelites were given a smart practice of bringing their “firstfruits”, the very top and best bit of their work, as a sacrifice. Generosity takes place when it becomes a priority. So before you spend that stimulus check and before you pack that calendar to avoid helping that friend move, determine first what bit of the things you have been given can go to those in need.
- Love where you give. If you have read any of my other resource posts, you know I love the work of BibleProject. My wife and I have been financial supporters of them from the beginning. We love what they do and want to be of any help in advancing their mission. Giving can be exciting and fun. One of the best ways to start practicing generosity is to find an organization, or group, or person you are passionate about and give of your time, money, energy, talents, and gifts to support them.
Generosity Theme Video by BibleProject
Generosity Podcast Series by BibleProject
Becoming People of Generosity Sermon by Bridgetown church
Principles in Giving Sermon by Alistair Begg
Giving & Receiving - Spiritual Symmetry Sermon by Tim Mackie