Are you a cheapskate Christian?
Bit of a strange question, eh?
But let me explain.
Recently, I’ve been reading through Genesis and Exodus and seeing just how overwhelmingly gracious God is with us.
Time and time again, I am reading about his loving kindness, his patience, his mercy, his forgiveness. Even in the New Testament, this incredible theme sings loudly; a God who loved us so much that he gave up his only child.
I honestly can’t think of a greater type of selfless generosity and yet, some of us, his followers struggle to understand the concept of generosity.
So, a few examples; we hoard our cash and protect what we have, as though money was going out of print.
We heap up our plates at the buffet table, not thinking about the long line behind us.
We’re offered a free book or resource from a ministry, but instead of taking one (as requested), we fill our pockets.
At work, we’re asked to put our mugs in the dishwasher, but we don’t, because, well, we’re kinda busy…
Lack of generosity can also easily spill into deceit too.
We might ‘fudge’ the truth on an application form, in order to get something free.
We might help ourselves to the leftover coins in a vending machine.
We might keep the £20 we found on the floor (finders/keepers, anyone? 😂).
Over the years, I’ve worked for different Christian charities and ministries and I’ve seen this often.
In a previous job, we once offered a free book, as an incentive to encourage people to sign up for a mailing list. One person helped themselves to 10 ‘free’ books, to ‘give to their friends’, not thinking about the cost/burden that put on the organisation.
Even closer to home, we see it in church too. It’s easy to become the type of person who goes purely to ‘take’ and not to ‘give’. We can rely heavily on the church’s support structures, but don’t want to give our time in any other way.
The point is, so much of this can stem from a lack of generosity, a sense that we are ‘owed’ something or that that we have to look after ‘me’ first of all.
And yet, God’s generosity towards us has literally no limits.
He gave us the most important thing in the world and he continues to do so in a million big and little ways.
I’ve experienced God’s generosity so, so many times and so, out of gratitude, I want to be generous toward others.
My parents instilled this in me, from an early age. Even when they had nothing, they would often choose to find a way to bless others. Even today, my dad will say, ‘everything I have isn’t mine anyway. It’s the Lord’s’.
I’m not saying it’s easy…it definitely isn’t.
Sometimes it feels like my inbuilt sin nature just constantly cries, ‘me, me, ME’.
No, I don’t want to go to the meeting, I want to stay at home and watch Netflix.
No, I don’t want to offer that person-in-need a lift, because I’m tired and it’s 5 miles out of my way.
Yes, I DO want the last piece of *quiche at the church buffet. The others behind me…well, they can have quiche some other time.
(*Quiche: the staple food of church buffets! 😂)
But yes, generosity is about way, way more than money.
It’s about smiling at cashiers in shops.
It’s about taking your trolley back to the trolley park (and not leaving it in a random car parking space at the supermarket).
It’s about allowing that person on the slip road to join the motorway, instead of refusing to budge.
It’s about helping ourselves to ONE plate of food at the buffet.
It’s about looking around at others’ needs and asking God if there is a way he could use ME to help, whether it’s with time or money.
And although I don’t believe we should give, in order ‘to get’, when we start modelling generosity, surprising things begin to happen. People notice. They start to open up. Others begin to practice generosity towards you.
But the truth is, God has given us literally everything. He has poured out unthinkable generosity on us.
And to whom much is given, much is required.