The following article was originally published at generouschurch.com.
We need to make something clear at the beginning of this post. We believe that the practice of generosity helps us become more like Jesus. It is an imitation of Him. It is a non-negotiable of being a disciple (one who learns from the ways of Jesus). That’s the heart of this article. We want to find ways to practice generosity on a daily basis for the purpose of growing as disciples of Jesus.
Enough clarification. If you’re still reading, we’re on the same page. You want to live generously. You want to help equip others around you to live with an open hand. So, how can we do that? For those of us who have trouble remembering to floss our teeth, how can we add anything new to our rigid daily routines? How can we add something valuable to our lives that will actually stick? How can we fit daily generosity into the busyness of life?
Idea #1 – Redefine the motives for generosity. (Hint: it’s about what He’s done for us.)
When our thinking is transformed, our habits will follow suite. Paul said it pretty well when he said, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).
Most people determine their acts of generosity by the patterns of this world. We decide whether or
not to give based on the cultural standards around us. So, if a natural disaster – like a hurricane – hits the coast and millions of people are negatively impacted, we may fall in line and give toward the relief efforts. That’s an acceptable form of generosity in our culture. However, if someone causes a disaster – by texting and driving for example – we don’t send relief funds to help the texting driver who caused the accident. Our motives are driven by our understanding of right and wrong. In both of those cases, our giving desires are highly influenced by the “patterns of this world.” Those motives are shaped by our culture.
And the patterns of this world don’t encourage us to give generously. In fact, just the opposite is true. Western culture encourages us to either consume or save. Not give. Therefore, we have to transform our thinking in order to become truly generous givers. We have to renew our minds by something apart from the patterns of this world to inform our giving decisions.
Scripture indicates that the best motives for living generously are the love and grace of God. God is good for nothing. I know that sounds irreverent, but hear me out. God is good to us even when we have nothing good to offer Him in return (He’s good for nothing). When we understand that He is open-handed toward us and that He gives generously – even when we don’t deserve it – it does something to us. It transforms our minds and re-wires our motives. Seeing the love and grace of God expressed through His generosity awakens us to be good for nothing as well.
Idea #2 – Redefine the definition of “wasteful spending.”
Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.”
Think about the implications of that verse. Ray Steadman once said, “The idea expressed here is one of openhanded generosity. Give freely, wisely, and generously to the needs of those about. This phrase, ‘Cast your bread upon the waters,’ was a proverb in Israel for what looked like wasteful expenditure. No one would take good bread and throw it in the river. But here we are enjoined to do that very thing. This is not encouraging us to be spendthrifts, to thoughtlessly and carelessly give away our money, spending it like a drunken sailor. What is meant is, be willing to take a chance where a real need is evident.”
Many of us subconsciously associate giving with wasteful spending. We see the gift that we gave as a personal loss. And when we don’t hear astounding reports of how the gift has changed lives, we are tempted to think, “I may have wasted that resource.”
But people who regularly model the generous lifestyle have chosen to redefine “wasteful spending.” They might define wasteful spending as anything that does not advance the kingdom of God…or any spending that does not benefit my relationship with God. Either way, the new definition keeps God at the epicenter of life rather than exalting money to that un-natural position.
Idea #3 – Find a generosity partner to share the journey with you.
We were created for community. And studies consistently show that we are more likely to stick with lifestyle changes when we do them in community. Chip Ingram’s book, The Genius of Generosity, is built on a story of how this works. When Chip was a young pastor, there was a man in his church (John Seville) who brought Chip into a secret giving pact. As Chip and John worked together, they were both strengthened in their commitments to generosity. A commitment to generosity – in a relational setting – gave them entirely new ways of seeing God’s generosity and propelled them much further into generous living than either man would have experienced on his own.
So, find another person that shares your heart for imitating God’s generosity and press forward into a new lifestyle together.
Idea #4 – Find a way to say “yes” to giving opportunities for an entire day.
Pick a date. Set aside a small sum of money. And say yes all day. Anytime someone tells you of a need and asks for help, say yes. Make it your goal to say yes to every giving opportunity that comes your way for the entire day.
This idea has been recently promoted by a guy named Sasha Ditcher. He is the founder of Generosity Day and has spoken
about this idea at a Ted Conference (watch it on YouTube). But, before Sasha came up with the idea of saying “yes” for an entire day, this thought was promoted by another creative thinker – Jesus. In Luke 6:30, Jesus makes this radical proposal
– “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
So, not only did Jesus encourage us to say “yes” to all giving opportunities, but He also added that we should graciously allow a thief to keep what he has stolen from us. He said all of that just before He said these famous words, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
In other words, take the whole “loving your neighbor as yourself” idea seriously.
So, spend an entire day saying “yes.” If it doesn’t do anything else for you, it will burn in your eternal consciousness the importance and value of daily generosity.
What practical tip would you offer to someone who wanted to live generously each day?