We are starting a sermon series about generosity. It’s a tough subject for people in LA especially, not because we are all so rich or so poor, but because we are all so independant.
We like to build up fortune for ourselves, and spend it for ourselves. We want to split the check rather than owing friends money or being owed money (but owing a credit card company money is somehow better). When we move, we hire movers and not friends. When we want a professional service done, we look to Google or Yelp, not to friends and family.
The problem with this sort of selfishness is that it sneaks under the radar. It’s seen as a noble and triumphant thing to be independent, not needing help from anyone. This selfishness changes our hearts. Not only are we not accepting, but we are also not pouring out.
I don’t just mean giving the homeless man on the street a dollar (or $20 or $100 if we want to REALLY feel good about ourselves), but instead pouring into the lives of those whom we come in contact with. What if, instead of giving him a dollar, we had lunch with him? What if we took time out of our day to help a friend run errands or loaned out money when someone can’t quite pay rent (rather than having them turn to credit cards)?
What if you gave up something that you want, so that a friend can have it instead?
This is the type of love that gets ignored, and this is the type of generosity that is almost nonexistent. Generosity is not giving out what extra you have- what is not needed. It’s sacrificing something that you very much want, so that someone else can benefit from it.
I was praying for someone after the service this past Sunday, and God gave me a vision of a tree. It was a fruit tree with no fruit on it. It was a healthy and beautiful tree that provided bountiful fruit, but all of the fruit was gone, given away to nourish and to start new fruit trees (trees which will in-turn help pollinate the original tree, and exponentially provide more trees). Surrounding it were full rich fruit trees with all of their fruit still hanging from their branches. The fruit on these trees will eventually fall off right next to the tree, and turn brown and rot. The seeds will shrivel and die, and go to waste, and make the ground surrounding these trees ugly and full of decay. It becomes ugly to all who look at it not long after its glory, and then has no other trees of its kind to help it pollinate.
This is a clear vision of what happens to us when we give. If we give, we are nourishing and sowing seeds amongst so many others. This helps generosity grow, and takes care of the needs in our community, including our own needs. If we horde our time/money/resources for ourselves, then the trophies we collect will eventually fall to the ground and die in front of everyone.
Lord, make me generous. I trust that You are faithful, and as I surrender and give, You will take care of any of my needs as You see fit. Humble me, and take away this selfishness that hides itself as independance.