Every now and then when we have friends come over to our house, my four-year-old will have a particularly hard time sharing certain toys. She claims the toy is “special to her” and struggles to let go. By God’s grace, it seems as though the older she gets the more generous she becomes in releasing her few possessions, but when she struggles, I always hope to engage with her in a short dialogue to remind us both the importance of generosity.
I ask, “Who gave you all things?”
She responds, “God.”
I ask, “Why did God give you all things?”
She responds, “So I can bless and serve others.”
We hope to create a culture in our family where sharing is not an option. We desire to make it a requirement, and if our children choose not to walk in obedience with generosity, then when age appropriate, we separate them from our guests for some alone time in their room until they are ready to share. You may be thinking, why require something that seems so disingenuous if not done by their own will? Does it really count?
As I think about the end goal for my kids, it is not that we want to require them to share for the sake of getting along with everyone, although that is a positive result. It’s that we want to cultivate a heart of giving and generosity in their own life because we want them to love God more than this world. I personally know all too well how easy it is to fall in love with the creation rather than the Creator. So our hope is to teach them while they are young, that when we align ourselves with our possessions over our love for God, we separate ourselves from joyful fellowship with the Savior who gave up everything for us. Confining them to their room to separate them from fellowship serves as a very small glimpse of how our lack of obedience hinders our fellowship with God. Sometimes we have to tell our feelings what to do and pray God makes it true. And more times than not, I find that I’m just like my four-year-old.
Genuine and life-changing generosity is painful. It should be painful because it requires us to cut off our desires for this world and relinquish them for the sake of the mission of God. So, if it produces pain—a cutting off of deep attachment to this material world—then why be generous? It’s for two reasons: our good and his glory.
For Our Good
Luke 12:34 says: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Generosity keeps us accountable from falling in love with this world. How can we love this world more than God if we give it away? We must ask ourselves, where is our treasure? What do we covet? It is often said that we can see one’s heart by their bank account statement. John Piper says it this way, “The movement of your money is the movement of your heart.” If God ultimately wants our heart and the goal is for us to become more like him, generosity is a means of sanctification. When we are generous, we become more like Him. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be more like him than me. Generosity isn’t necessarily giving what is easy to give, but giving up that which we covet. Since it is his good for us that we would be generous, being generous reveals the depths of God’s grace and love for us!
For His Glory
Looking forward at what is to come frees us to give generously and abundantly. Only when we keep the end result in the forefront of our mind will we care less about the things of this world. At the end of our life when we stand face to face with our Savior to worship him, and we give an account to how we spent our time and resources, a life well-spent is realizing that we generously gave the first fruits of all that we value. God created us to bring him glory, and to live out that purpose means giving our time and money away now to further the kingdom and his future glory. Just like I remind my four-year-old, I constantly have to remind myself: God has given us all things so that we may bless and serve others, and when we align ourselves with the mission God, we bless and serve others for eternity. Generosity means that he asks us to abandon our love for this world and instead cultivate a love for his mission.
What Does It All Mean?
So, how can we be generous in light of God’s glory and our good? For me, it means digging deep within my own heart to reveal what I truly covet. For my family, it means giving a good portion of our resources: time, money, skills, and services to our local church. We know Mercy Hill is heavily involved in the mission of God: from serving the poor and abused, to planting churches both domestically and abroad. Will you join me and my family this month in really digging deep into your heart and asking, “What is it that I treasure more than God,” and then giving it away for Generous December?
-Kelly Hovis (Mercy Hill Member)