By Art Woodcock
West Des Moines, Iowa, USA
Throughout the ages, humans have struggled with the issues of grace and generosity. Many, including those in our early church, attempted to earn grace through works. Despite his best efforts, Martin Luther was not able to live a life worthy of grace. Only while teaching Romans 1:17 did he realize that grace was truly a free gift of God. As Ephesians 2:8–9 states, grace is freely given by God. Believe it, God’s grace is free!
Although not labeled as generosity in the Hebrew Bible, many scriptures such as Deuteronomy 15:7–11 instruct Israel to assist the poor and needy. As Community of Christ’s theology evolved, we have learned that generosity is our personal and community response to God’s grace. Generosity is not payment for a debt we owe God, but our loving and caring response to God’s free gift of grace. As God gives freely to each of us, how can we not respond by freely giving to others?
Personally, I find generosity rewarding and exciting. Giving freely rather than from commandment or obligation is much more meaningful. God calls us to be fully awake and aware of the needs of others. Awareness is the first step, but action is the key. Be as the Good Samaritan; be willing to give of your time and financial resources and go the extra mile.
I encourage all of us to make generosity a matter of the heart. To seek those in need and freely give just as God’s heart freely has given grace to each of us.
Discover Generosity Together
Every October, the church begins to journey through a season of generosity, focusing on the four phases of the Generosity Cycle over six weeks: Invite, Discover, Respond, and Reflect. Plan now to participate individually or as a group. Resources can be found on the Generosity Cycle webpage.
God graciously blesses us every day. In a busy world, it often is difficult to pay attention to those blessings. Here are a few practical ways to make time for God during everyday life.
- Practice moments of silence—Choose a time; usually the beginning or end of day works best. Find a comfortable place and sit in silence for five minutes—no TV, no phone, no Internet. Breathe slowly and focus on God’s presence with you.
- Keep a gratitude journal—Record at least one thing you are grateful for each day or try downloading the Gratitude Journal online.
- Spend time in nature—Trees, animals, sunshine, rain, and all of creation point to a generous God. Walking or simply sitting outside reminds us of the wonder and power of God’s amazing generosity in nature.
- Practice random acts of kindness—When we do something nice for someone else, it brings joy to the other person and to us. It doesn’t matter how big or small the action may be. Any form of kindness is sure to bring God’s presence into your life.