I walked into her home, my mind and tummy anxious, swirling with confusion, a decision needing to be made. The last thing I wanted was to visit someone I’d never met. And yet, as Ilene greeted me at the front door, I felt a sense of calm settle over me. There was something about her, something I couldn’t even define, that spoke peace. I think it was generosity of spirit, a warmth that took me in right where I was, dark thoughts notwithstanding, and helped me to feel at home.
Have you met anyone like that? Someone whose very presence stilled your soul?
In talking about living a richer life, our church has focused on generosity. So often we think of giving in terms of finances–and that’s important. There are a myriad of needs that go far beyond what I can help; but I can help. I can give to the Food Bank or purchase a gift for a child of a parent in prison; I can contribute to special giving projects, or hand out small food packets to men and women asking for help along my routes to and from the grocery store. I can give to a fresh water project in a third world country; a goat or chickens for a family struggling to make a living to raise something that can bring in income as well as food products for themselves.
And generosity goes beyond that. Ilene’s extension of her peace to my heart was a tremendous gift at that particular time in my life. There is something about a generous spirit, especially one that radiates the love of Jesus Christ, that shines light into the darkness around us. The prophet Isaiah promised that “People sitting out their lives in the dark saw a huge light; Sitting in that dark, dark country of death, they watched the sun come up.”
What’s your life purpose? Mine? I love how THE MESSAGE expresses this in Matthew 5:13-16.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth … You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? … Shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Generosity stems from recognizing the free gift of God, celebrated in this holy season when the true light exploded into the darkness with the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of all mankind.
- He gave us His Son, a gift of unconditional, overarching love from the Creator to the created.
- He gave us forgiveness through the Cross.
- He gave us eternal life that starts the moment we receive His free gift of salvation.
- He gives grace, day by day, for the challenges we face.
- He gives joy that goes much deeper than happiness, joy that is rooted in knowing Him.
- He gives peace that stems from knowing He is in control and has our best at heart.
So at those times when resentment creeps into my heart because someone may take my generosity farther than I intended, I want to use the opportunity as a thank offering to God for all He’s done for me, and for stretching me beyond my comfort zone.
Let’s SHINE this Christmas with the light, life, and giving heart of our God.
Question: Is it easier for you to give money or practical help, or to give of yourself with time and presence? I’d love to discuss.