Generosity | The genesis of gratitude

The genesis (beginning point) of generosity (exuberant expressions of faith) is gratitude (being thankful for what God has done for us). So, a word about generosity.  First, a word from John Wesley.  In his sermon The Use of Money, his outline was “make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”  Wesley understood that generosity is paramount for the Christian.
Jim Sheppard has described what he calls “contagious generosity”, and his writing has influenced my understanding of generosity.  Generosity at its core is a lifestyle—a lifestyle in which we share all that we have and who we are as a response to God’s grace.  It is not enough for the church to talk about generosity, nor is it enough for individual Christians to simply commit to being generous.  What makes generosity a real and powerful witness to God’s love is what we do.  Generosity flows from the understanding that all we have, are, or will ever become is not ours to possess: it is to be responsibly shared with others for the advancement of the kingdom and the glory of God.
God knows that our orientation toward money reflects our obedience to the Lordship of Christ.  Our job is to fulfill the Great Commission until Christ’s return. Generosity offers one of the most powerful ways for us to advance the Kingdom.  Best of all, when the church acts with generosity to serve others, it is a clear picture of Christ, who generously gave his life and all He had on the cross that we might find life forever.
Generosity embraces a Biblical understanding of stewardship. That is: (1) God is the owner of everything; (2) What we have has been given to us by God; (3) The resources we possess are assets to be invested in the Kingdom.
We are encouraged in our generosity when we understand what it means to be a steward, an overseer, recognizing that what we have is not ours to own and confessing that “Jesus is Lord” over our money, possessions, positions of authority and talents.  Even the faithful Christian is challenged without an appropriate discipline of biblical stewardship in which generosity is essential.  The free gift of the grace of God shapes our faith and leads to the conviction that all that we have—our time, talent, treasure, and witness—is something that we have been given for a purpose.  We cannot separate our acceptance of God’s grace from the practice of generosity.  We are generous because God was first generous with us, freely giving his life for our sake.
Stewardship is more than an obligation.  It’s an opportunity—to witness to the reckless gracious nature of God who gives the free gift of salvation by grace to all who will receive it.   Generosity is the fullest expression of the life of a steward, one who has been given a gift, a gift that must be used wisely and for a purpose, bringing glory to God.