(because generosity empowered by Jesus fuels a contagious, other-centered culture)
is one of our values at the Church, and throughout the year we’ve talked about embracing generosity as individuals and as household wells. Generosity not only in sharing material things, but also generosity of spirit, of mind, and of heart.
Going a bit further, what would a culture of generosity look like? We asked people both inside and outside the church for their thoughts, and here’s what we heard:
“A culture of generosity would be one where people think about others first, and act on it.”
“A culture of generosity would be a community based on service and giving. Serving others in need and giving to others without expecting anything in return.”
“Everyone giving the extra you have to someone else instead of keeping it for yourself. The ‘extra’ might be money, or time and effort, or involvement. Because I’ve never had much financially, I volunteer what I have: my time and energy. Some places didn’t value that as much as giving money. It felt like they dismissed me and what I could give. Those places aren’t cultures of generosity.”
“A culture that has the desire to look out for others. Putting others first before themselves.”
“Everyone would have enough. We would take care of each other.”
“Seeking God’s guidance on giving. Always having room for one more. Asking what the need is and then helping to fulfill that need. Making time for people.”
“Wouldn’t we all like to live in a culture like that? (laughs). It would be humanizing, not de-humanizing. People wouldn’t be seen as things to be used or manipulated.”
The common thread of outward awareness seems woven throughout these comments.
Pastor Jeff shared his thoughts on some characteristics of communities that have established a culture of generosity:
- A clear purpose or mission that everyone rallies around and supports.
- Focused on serving others, not just themselves.
- A culture of giving, not only taking. Everyone is always looking for ways to help others.
- Constantly learning and growing.
- Inclusive and welcoming to all, not threatened by connecting with people with different views and opinions.
- All while maintaining a commitment to truth.
Doesn’t this sound a little like what Jesus was trying to show His disciples?
He taught them the value of generosity; created opportunities for them to share the good news and healing power they’d been given with the community; encouraged them in their efforts; and modeled generosity, inclusiveness and truth in everything He did.
And the culture that characterized His early church?
“All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.” Acts 4:32-33
Image for a moment what life would look like today if the habit of generous hearts and hands became the reflex response of everyone who follows Jesus. Think of what might change. Imagine how the world would respond.
Maybe that’s what Jesus had in mind when He said,
‘You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matt 5:14-16
Holy Spirit, inspire and empower us as we create cultures of generosity in our lives, our household wells, and our church. We want to be lights in the world for You. Amen.