thursday, may 23

generosity: duty as delight

 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (ESV)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever[.]” John 14:15-16 (ESV)

As Christians, we give our precious things because God commands us to give them. Yet we give them because we delight in giving them. Generosity is the Christian’s duty and his delight.

Americans tend to struggle with this. For us, doing something because we must usually suggests unwanted compulsion. If you thanked me for helping you, what would you think if I responded, “It’s my duty”? Such a response would probably imply that I disliked helping you. In Tibet, however, such a response happens often. At the risk of oversimplification, many Tibetans derive joy from fulfilling duties—something someone of a higher status expects of them.

Jesus, too, made this connection. We express our love for him by faithfully pursuing our duties to him. When combined with Paul’s admonishment to give joyfully, we discover that Jesus does not seek mere obedience. He wants us to want to obey. He has little interest in a grumbling or guilt-stricken giver.

Jesus has not left his people alone in this endeavor. His grace, manifest in his Spirit’s indwelling, gives Christians all that they need to give joyfully.

Our definition grows—generosity is the joyful, obedient, and sacrificial giving of something precious for another’s betterment and our preservation.

Question: What motivates your giving? Whether for internal or external reasons, all of us give wrongly. May we ask Holy Spirit to purify our motives as we persevere in generosity.

Justin W.