Friday, January 1, 2010

The Year of Generosity

This post was originally posted on the OGC blog.

In effort to keep the congregation connected with the Mission Committee, we members were encouraged to contribute to the blog now and again. It’s been a blessing to be part of the Mission Committee, and I’m happy to finally contribute my first entry to the OGC blog.
This past year Zane and I were challenged to set some core family values. After much discussion we decided on these five: loving God, forgiveness, generosity, thankfulness, and adventure. These values have already become guidelines for us as we set goals, make decisions, and discover God’s plan for our marriage and family. Though I could discuss each value in detail, I’d like to focus on generosity as we approach the new year. The following verse struck me today, and I highlighted the phrases that particularly jumped out.
1 John 3:16 says “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
At first reading, this verse reminded me of the verses about husbands laying down their lives for their wives. Someone once described to me that the easy perspective would be a husband’s requirement to jump in front of a bus for his wife. That’s a one-time laying-down-life event. The more challenging perspective is that a husband is required to daily lay down his life, or his selfish needs, for his family. Likewise, John is challenging us all – men and women – to sacrificially lay down our lives, our needs and luxuries, for our brothers.
And who are our brothers? I believe John is speaking of brothers in Christ. Therefore, this verse is not speaking about evangelism or outreach, but of internal ministry to each other.
John goes on to say in verses 17-18, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (emphasis added).”
Verse 17 tells us specifically what John means by laying down our lives for our brothers: don’t hold back your world’s goods. I have been abundantly blessed with the world’s goods, yet I often find myself feeling like I don’t have enough, when I actually have more than enough. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this selfish mindset. God gives us financial blessings so that we can bless others. As we go into the new year and the Lord increases our standard of living, let’s be mindful as a church body to increase our standard of giving. Laying down our lives for our brothers means sacrificing personal luxury for the needs of our kingdom family.
My prayer for my family this coming year is that we will not close our hearts against a brother in need. If God opens my eyes to see a need–whether it be a verbal request or an unspoken need–I want to have an open heart for generosity to fill that need. There are endless opportunities for this, perhaps the most obvious being our support-raising missionaries. Let’s not just talk about loving, let’s do it in deed and in truth…and in giving.