During the Christmas season I sometimes have a nagging fear. I’m afraid of appearing stingy—of not being generous enough with my gift-giving.
Lately as I’ve been contemplating this, I realized that Jesus’ generosity was rarely centered on tangibles, although He did feed large crowds in a miraculous way x 2, and He generously turned water into wine at a wedding feast.
But His other acts of generosity had to do with giving of His time, His compassion, His wisdom, His mercy and so much more to people who were in need.
He was a homeless man with no income, and yet He was the most generous man in the history of the world.
So why is it when I think of generosity, I tend to focus on money and material things? Perhaps it’s because those are easier to give.
The generous giving that Jesus demonstrated called for laying down His life—not just on the cross—but even before He got there.
I’ve discovered God longs to be generous to me, so He can be generous through me. Another way I’ve heard that phrased is that He blesses us, so we can be a blessing.
I confess that too often I still hold back from fully receiving God’s generous gifts and passing them on to others. I receive to a certain point, and then I give of myself only to a certain point. If I received all He had to give and then gave my all, I fear I’d get hurt beyond repair or drained dry.
But this is the reason for staying connected to God just as Jesus did—to be replenished.
Somehow this holding back in being generous seems connected to this verse:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Luke 9:24 KJV
The dangerous place I can come to in my spiritual life is when I conclude, “I’ve been generous enough. No more.”
No matter how generous I think I am or have been, I can never come close to the generosity Christ showed.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8 NIV
And so this Christmas season I’m desiring something more than giving tangible gifts that make me look generous. Instead I want to have a more generous heart—a heart like Christ.
Even as I embraced that desire this week, I was tested. Someone said something cruel to me, and I felt crushed. Bitterness began to set in. Through that time of holding on to a bitter heart God revealed to me that the place I was at was the opposite of a generous heart.
It took me over 48 hours to make things right with the person who had slashed me with such harsh words. I know Jesus would not have taken that long. He is far more generous than me.
As I let His mercy flow through me to the one who had hurt me, I heard a verse in my mind—a paraphrase of Ephesians 4:32
Forgive one another generously as I have so generously forgiven you.
Father, let me celebrate Your generosity this Christmas season and throughout the new year. Let me live it out as well. Amen.