On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 110: Generosity (9/4/16)
“For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints...” (2 Corinthians 8: 3-4 RSV)
I believe that I can in all truth say that everybody loves a generous giver! We all enjoy receiving gifts from others: we merely have to look at Christmas morning to experience the joy of receiving. The joy of receiving has its place in our lives. But it is contingent on the generosity of others - people and God. Without generosity there is no joy of receiving.
What do the Holy Scriptures say about generosity?
Galatians 5: 12 states, “But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such there is no law.”
Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit, one of the seven great virtues of the Church. If you desire to know what God wants you to do with your life, assess if what you are doing is aligned with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If that which you are doing is not one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, then, you are not doing what God wants of you.
Jesus commanded us to give freely, expecting nothing in return. This applies to the whole of our life, not just money.
God, through the Holy Spirit, endows us continually with time, talents and treasures. He asks us to freely and cheerfully give back a portion of all that He has given to us. Do we?
Do we give cheerfully and freely expecting nothing in return? Well, each of you can answer for yourself. But, let me comment that most people, given their humanity, expect something in return when they give. We expect to be thanked. We expect a change of heart in people to whom we show kindness. We expect people to change their ways by our act of generosity. We expect good things, as defined by us, to happen. This is wrong. Our human expectations are owned by us, not by God, and when our expectations precede God’s expectations, we are making ourselves a god before God. We are not aligned with God demands. The preceding attitude is dangerous.
If we were giving freely in accord with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we would be yielding our life to God and expecting nothing in return.
Give freely of your time, talent, and treasure as did the Macedonians in 2nd Corinthians. Although they were suffering severe hardships of their own, they gave to support those in Jerusalem that were suffering even more. They even begged Paul to allow them to give to the cause! God loves a cheerful giver who gives freely and lovingly, expecting nothing in return.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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