How do you measure Generosity?
When I was on a mission trip in Africa a few years ago, I was asked to speak at a church deep in the jungle - nearly three hours by Land-Rover from the nearest road. We followed paths cut by cattle, crossing two rivers with the water up to the hood. When we finally got to the church it was raining, which was leaking down through
holes in the tin roof. About 200 of the local villagers gathered in the little church. They came from foot-paths that lead in all directions into the jungle.
Not long after I was introduced and began to speak through my interpreter, a cow wandered up the center aisle of the church. Several men got up and shooed the cow out, so I could continue. I’ll refrain from calling it a moooving experience.
Wonderful and even funny memories - but my favorite and most heartwarming memory from that day came from when they took the offering. Sitting on the small speaker’s platform, I was able to observe when the offering plate passed by an elderly woman who was sitting on the front row. As the offering plate passed in front
of her, she put in her offering - she put an egg in the offering plate. That was all she had to give. I thought about her offering. That egg likely represented her next meal, but nevertheless, she gave it.
In Chip Ingram’s book The Genius of Generosity, he reminds us of the story that Christ shared in Luke 21 - the well known story of the widow who unceremoniously and quietly put two coins into the offering box. She was perhaps even embarrassed by what little she had to give. But like the elderly woman in Africa, it too was all she
had to give. Yet Christ said of her “This poor widow has given more than all the others. All the others gave out of their wealth, but she gave out of her poverty, all that she had to live on.” Christ stated that she gave “more” than anyone else.
Chip goes on to add that the widow gave out of a generous heart, putting her own needs at risk - putting her desire to honor God ahead of her own needs. He goes on to explain that God measures generosity - not by the size of the gift - but by the size of the sacrifice.
That morning back in Africa, I put the equivalent of a few dollars into the offering plate - probably more than anyone else in the church was able to give that morning. But there was a difference - I gave that small amount out of my abundance - out of my comparative wealth - they gave what they could, out of their poverty.
I would not miss a meal for giving those few dollars. I wouldn't even miss a coffee from Starbucks when I got back to the US. There was no sacrifice on my part in my gift to the church offering that morning. As I reflect back on it, I wish I had given more - not in a prideful or boastful manner - but because I could have done so much
more to help that small church deep in the jungle - and it still would not have been a sacrifice for me.
Chip does go on to say that “if your heart is right before God, giving any amount is a pleasing offering to God.” (Hebrews 13). That’s encouraging. Certainly God (and our church) appreciate all who give faithfully and obediently to the ongoing ministry needs of our church.
But this story begs the question - is there more that we can do? Are we willing to give generously and sacrificially out of our “wealth”? Chip goes on to define generous and sacrificial giving this way:
“You’ve given sacrificially when your giving impacts your lifestyle...True generosity is shaped by a special intertwining of sacrifice and worship. That’s another reason generosity is so genius. It’s about our love for God. It’s a spiritual act of thoughtful, voluntary worship.”
More to come...
Do you have questions about managing your finances from a Biblical perspective?
For help and guidance feel free to call Kent Anderson at (239)596-8600 x254.