Living for the Giving
Generosity is all about open handed living in a close fist culture. It’s my birthday, I’ve got a little hat on, I’m wearing funny little shorts, and one of my friends hands me a birthday present with a big hug (I’m 5 years old in this story, by the way).
But when I open this gift we both discover (because being 5, my friend had no idea what he was handing me) that it’s a a Fireman Sam audio book. Now everyone loves Fireman Sam (“he’s always on the scene”), and you can see the moment of shock and regret as my little friend suddenly realises what he’s given away. What ensues was the most pathetic, yet most passionate fight I’ve ever seen between myself and another human.
Then we both burst into tears.
It’s pretty funny to watch, and my grandad clearly thought the same - he just carried on filming.
I was reminded of this moment recently through the wonder/embarrassment of old home videos, but this one stuck with me for a while.
Because in this peculiar scene, both of us felt entitled to what we had. It was my birthday, so I held on to the present tightly - this was the day I get to keep all the toys right? But It was also originally in my friend’s hands before he had given it to me (a mistake he definitely wouldn’t have made if he knew what was in there) and so he equally tightened his grip on the audiobook.
I share this story because generosity is the absolute opposite.
I’ve been involved in a ‘way of life’ called Infinitum for just over a year now. It’s a way of intentionally going deeper with Jesus. A part of this includes living out three vows; surrender, mission, and generosity. There’s a saying attached to this way of life that I love so much; Generosity is all about open handed living in a close fist culture. It’s about giving and receiving freely, not because we deserve what we can get, but because others deserve what we can give.
Proverbs is a great book in the bible, full of wisdom and depth on these matters. In chapter 11:24 it says ‘One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty’. Our culture is desperately trying to convince us that they key in life is to take and withhold, not to give freely. Our money, our time, our energy; even our love. Very often it’s because at the core of it all, we can easily be convinced we’re ‘entitled’. But in reality, we can sometimes be justifying our own greed or selfishness. The proverb shows that we need to flip our perspective - that the ‘entitled’ life of withholding and keeping leads to poverty, not wealth. To live full lives we need to learn how to give freely.
Probably the greatest example of giving beyond and outside of ‘entitlement’ is forgiveness. In an opportunity for forgiveness, there’s usually two entitled people. One who is entitled to anger/hate, and one who is seemingly entitled to punishment/rejection. Forgiveness breaks through both of those experiences (Of which either one can be a painful and oppressive way to live) and instead gives freely - gives something away undeserved.
I think sometimes we can forget how undeserved we are of Jesus’ salvation. Especially when we go around being nice people, doing nice things in nice ways. We can forget that our lives are bought with a price, a high ransom. As a result, our lives are a testament of ‘grace’ - receiving something undeserved.
Generosity takes guts. It can be a moment of risk and sacrifice; whether it’s our finances, our time, our words, or even letting go of a Fireman Sam audiobook. We’ve received grace and forgiveness from our Father in heaven with open hands, in fact we’ve received ‘every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we’re united with Jesus’ (Ephesians 1:3). So let’s let go of our fears, our pride, or even our sense of ‘entitlement’. Instead, let’s live generous, open handed lives, that know it’s only when we give that we truly start to live.