This morning I was meditating on two gospel passages. The first is the parable of the landowner who hired workers, some early in the morning, some at lunch time and some late in the afternoon. (Matthew 20: 1-16) The second was the gospel reading for the day from the Book of Common Prayer – Matthew 6:25 – 34 which starts with the admonish “I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food and drink… It ends ” Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and he will give you everything you need.”
This is a scripture that many of us struggle with, particularly in challenging financial times like this when many are seeing their savings and their sense of security stripped away. Does God really provide we wonder? Is God really a generous God? These are hard questions to answer and there are no simple answers either. But I think that the first of these scriptures highlights part of the problem. We like to be in control of the generosity of God and we are not always impressed with the generosity of God when it is given to someone else. We are even less impressed if that person is someone we think is undeserving.
Most of us do not understand God’s principles of economics which I think are best summed up in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 “the one who plants generously will get a generous crop…. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others…. he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you….
Generosity is at the heart of who God is and who God wants us to be. We look at what we hold in our hands and don’t think we have enough for ourselves let alone enough to share generously. So how do we recognize the generosity of God? here are some principles that I try to live by which I will try to expand on in the next week.
- Budget wisely and always spend within your budget. I find that when I have no budget I often spend far more than I intend on items that do not really matter. (more on this tomorrow). A corollary to this is only ever shop with a shopping list in your hand and don’t buy items that are not on your list. It is usually those unexpected purchases that push us over the edge.
- Live simply and be frugal in evaluating your own needs so that you can give to others even when you feel strapped financially.
- Trust God for your daily bread and act with generosity at the center of your life. Sometimes we do not see the generosity of God because we take on ourselves the responsibility of provision and in the process we don’t leave room for God. Tom and I have always given at least 10% of our income away. We have shared our home, our hospitality and now a growing amount of produce from the garden and we have discovered that the more generous we are, the more generosity God seems to lavish on us.
- Look for and celebrate where God has poured out generosity, not just on you but on others as well. A couple of weeks ago good friends of mine Jack and Cherie Minton who head up Hope Force International found out that they were the Grand Prize winner of American Airlines “Flights.Camera.Action” contest Hope Force International, from Brentwood, Tenn., was awarded more than 100,000 Business ExtrAA points – enough for 50 domestic round-trip tickets. The winner will be featured on American Airlines inflight television, a full-page ad in one issue of American Way magazine, banners on AA.com, and more. This is a time to rejoice and see in this event the lavish generosity of God. Part of what I realized was that as I rejoiced with Jack and Cherie, my trust and expectation that God would provide for our needs too, increased.