December 14, 2010

A Generous Heart



[jen-er-uhs]  Show IPA
liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.
free from meanness or smallness of mind or character;magnanimous.
large; abundant; ample: a generous portion of pie.
rich or strong in flavor: a generous wine.
fertile; prolific: generous soil.
This advent, at my church, we've been talking a lot about being generous. We live in a world that is obsessed with stuff. Coveting versus contentment. I'm just as guilty as the next girl. I covet a nicer apartment, a better wardrobe, and I wouldn't turn down a large gift card to Starbucks. I like my comforts and I pay for them.

As a Christian, as a member of my church, though, I'm commanded to be generous. After all, my money, my resources, all that I have, and all that I am - it's God's anyway. I know that to be true. He's provided for me always. Always. I've been in want, but I've never been in need. When I give on a Sunday morning, I'm supporting the Gospel. That's why it's such a big deal. Ministry takes money. No way around it. I know that, I work for the church. If people stop giving, I stop getting a paycheck.

Sunday I left church a little sad. I'm sad because I haven't always managed my money very well. I'm ashamed because my debt keeps me from being extravagant in my generosity. My first job was  a very good one. I brought home a nice paycheck, but instead of paying off debt, I spent it. I justified it by spending some of it on charity and friends, but truth be told I spent most of it stupidly and on things that I thought would give me happiness, contentment, but they never did. Now, here I am looking at my future from a deficit. I wish I'd gone to a college that had offered a larger scholarship. I wish I'd saved more. I wish I'd never used a credit card. I wish I hadn't spent thousands to start a master's degree I never finished.

I can't go back in time. I can't undo my mistakes, but I can do my best to give regularly, sacrificially and cheerfully. Every month my largest check goes to my debtors. My second largest to my church. I hope that one day this is not the case.

What do I covet? I covet a life without debt so that I can give more than my 10%. So that, in addition to my church, I can give to those who are in need. So I can buy dinner for a friend who is short on cash. So I can pay the heating bill of someone I don't even know. So that I can give more to my church so that the Gospel can continue to go forth in our city.

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