Transformed Into . . . . . . Generosity!
October 5, 2018
At first blush, generosity may seem to be a very strange place to begin when we talk about the values and practices that we need to embody and live out if we want to become more like Christ. It seems strange because Forest Lake Presbyterian Church is already a very generous congregation – both as individuals and collectively. If I listed the ways in which this group of Christian disciples are generous, I wouldn’t have time to say anything else. Suffice it to say that in every way, I am constantly amazed at the generosity of the members and guests in this congregation. You are already a generous group. And I am humbled by that knowledge, because my own base instincts are not always generous.
But when I think about what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ and to prepare our congregation to live in the rapidly changing landscape that is our country, I cannot escape the conviction that generosity is one of the values and practices that must be at our core. We are never finished becoming generous, or generous enough. So, how can we continue to grow in the virtue, grace and character of generosity?
And by Christian generosity I do not only mean how much money we give away. By Christian Generosity, I mean an approach or attitude towards ALL OF LIFE. Generosity is a way of living with our time, our gifts, our opinions, and our very lives, before it is a way of living with our money. Generosity is a way of treating others – especially when we disagree.
It seems to me that there are some things that make generosity difficult if not impossible. It is very difficult to be generous when we are afraid. So, we need to reduce our fear, if we want to grow in generosity. And it is impossible to be generous when we are self-focused. Narcissism – it seems to me - may be one of the biggest barriers to generous living. How can we shift our focus or center from self to God and others?
I think that there are many things that support generosity, and it is those that I ask you to try to identify. Identify the people of faith that you know who are generous. Then, identify how you know they are generous? What makes them generous, and how can we imitate that/grow that in ourselves and in this church?
For me, one of the basic building blocks of generosity is gratitude. An attitude of gratitude makes generosity a natural outcome. When we remember how people have been generous with us, and when we honestly account for how much has been just given to us, then it is easier to be generous. When we truly understand “the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9) then it becomes easier to envision ourselves being generous.
If all that we are and all we have is a gift, then it does not belong to us and sharing and giving are logical outcomes. How do we cultivate that? How do we live that?
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Ellen Fowler Skidmore