Generous People Bless Themselves - December 2017

Generous People Bless Themselves - December 2017

At Christmas, we are urged to be generous – by countless commercials, newspaper editorials, and especially by seeing the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales pulling a sleigh filled with presents. Of course, our model for generosity is God himself. God was generous in creation by giving human beings the earth. God is generous in caring for the earth. God was generous in giving us his Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us about who God is, to show us the way to live, and to die on a cross for our sins. God is generous in giving eternal life to every person who trusts in Christ. God is generous in giving us other human beings so that we wouldn’t be lonely. God is generous in answering our prayers. God was generous in sending us his Spirit. God is generous in healing us when we hurt and filling our hearts with hope when we think we can’t go on. If there is one quality about God that stands out, it is that God is a generous God!

 

But what is generosity? The word “generosity” has an interesting origin. It comes from an old Latin word “generosus,” which means “of noble birth.” To say someone was generous in the Middle Ages was to say that this person belonged to nobility. In the 17th century, a shift started happening with the word “generous.” More and more, generosity referred to “nobility of spirit.” Generosity became a call to a higher state, a higher standard, a noble spirit.

 

So much of contemporary culture calls us to a low state, to a low standard, to be rude and crude on Twitter. There is so much trolling going on in social media. But generosity calls us to a nobility of spirit, to a higher standard. 

 

Generosity is a learned habit

 

Being generous is not haphazard or impulsive. Generosity is not simply a feeling or a tug on our hearts at seeing a dog at an animal shelter or an orphan who is hungry. Generosity can come from that, but over time we can develop habits of open-handedness with our time, our money, our possessions, our compliments, our encouragement, our emotional availability, and our service. Generosity is a learned habit of being open and available with all that we are and all that we have. 

 

Because we are made in God’s image, we human beings are designed to be generous. In other words, we don’t do well when we are ungenerous!

 

Proverbs 11:24-25 says:

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;

   the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;

   Those who help others are helped.

 

The world of the ungenerous is like the Grinch’s heart in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His heart was two sizes too small. Ungenerous people shrink their own hearts and shrink their own worlds.

 

There is a fabulous book written by Notre Dame Professor Christian Smith titled The Paradox of Generosity, in which he collected an enormous array of social science data about the benefits of generosity. He then asked: “If generosity is so good for us, why are we so bad at it?” For example, why do only 3% of Americans give away at least 10% of their incomes? Why do 6 out of 7 Americans give away less than 2% of their incomes?

 

Certainly, one reason we are stingy is that we are afraid to be generous. We’re afraid to open our hands and give away our time or our money. We’re afraid to make ourselves available to others. We’re afraid of being vulnerable. Instead of vulnerability, we become self-protective. We hoard. We cocoon. We close in ourselves. The result of that, according to researchers, is we become even more anxious about the future. When we are ungenerous, when we don’t open our hands, we end up clinging not just to our stuff, but to our anxieties. 

 

Jesus knew this one well. He said if you want to get free of anxiety, give! If you are in a prison of fear regarding what’s going to become of you or your family, the worst thing you can do is shut down and become less available to others. The best research agrees with Jesus that the more selfish you are, the more fearful you’ll become!

 

We flourish when we are generous

 

Again, Proverbs 11.24-25 reads:


The world of the generous gets larger and larger;

   the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;

   Those who help others are helped.

 

Generosity is like a boomerang. We give and it comes back to us. By spending ourselves for others, we bless ourselves! As we open our hands, we find ourselves flourishing. 

 

This Christmas, be generous!

  1. Do one act of service (with your family) beyond your normal activities. Why not volunteer at one of Vineyard Columbus’ two food pantries? Contact Rhodie at to volunteer or just show up on a Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Invite an international student over through International Friendships. To find out more about International Friendships, contact Jessica Burchett at 740-816-6518. Do you like talking on the phone? We are calling every member of our church, and we need your help to reach out. Contact Denise at if you would like to help.
  2. Pick one charity you don’t normally give to and donate to that charity.
  3. Be generous to the church. Like many churches and charities, Vineyard Columbus relies on year-end giving to meet our budget. Give over and above your normal tithe or year-end gift.
  4. Be generous to those who serve you through the year – hairdressers and barbers, paper deliverers, mail carriers, waiters, your children’s teachers and coaches. Give them a tip they will remember!

Generous people imitate our generous God! And generous people don’t just bless others. Generous people bless themselves!