Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Generous God

note: I wrote this post for my church's lenten blog.

A Generous God

My boss once asked our staff the question, “Do you pray out of God’s generosity or God’s scarcity?” He went on to explain the question: “Do you pray, pleading and hoping that God will just help you scrape by? Or do you pray with the knowledge that God has made and owns everything? Do you pray really believing that God is generous and loves to give to His children?”

Do we, as Christians, truly believe that God is generous? We live in a broken, hurting world that seems to live between two poles: we either have so much stuff that we feel entitled to more stuff, or we are forced to go without, feeling anxious about how we might survive until next week.

Scripture certainly points us to the perception that God owns all things. Psalm 24:1-2 reads, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Psalm 50:10-11 reminds us of a similar truth: “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains and the creatures of the field are mine.” Scripture shows us the story of God’s creation and that He is the maker of all that is. Does this mean that He also gives to His creation?

I do believe that God is generous. However, to truly answer this question correctly, we have to understand that Kingdom economics are different from earthly economics. Stating that God is generous does not automatically mean that we will be rich in money, possessions, or other temporary things (however, I do believe that there are times that God chooses to bless us with such things. I don’t think that’s the point, though.). God’s generosity is much deeper and contains much more meaning than that. If we are people that genuinely seek after God, He desires to give to us freely out of things that are eternal: joy, peace, abundant life, Godly wisdom. Jesus points to this fact in the gospel of John when He reminds us of His purpose: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Jesus has come to give us an abundance of things that cannot be destroyed.

In fact, I believe that if we saw generosity only in terms of monetary or material items, the idea of God’s generosity would be cheapened. If we are only given what cannot and will not last, we will never be satisfied. However, the fact that God is generous towards us with a Kingdom economy reminds us that He delights in His children.

Those who are rich in money go bankrupt. People lose jobs and houses. Unfortunate life circumstances happen all around us. However, the generosity of God never fails.

In the book The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith reminds readers that God is indeed generous. He shares, “The metanarrative of the Bible is the story of the steadfast love of God that culminates in the incarnation, death and resurrection of God on behalf of a wayward world God is generous because He lives in a condition of abundance - His provisions can never be exhausted-and God is moved with compassion because He sees our need.” (Smith 79,84)

As I journey through Lent this year, I am thinking about God’s generosity, especially in terms of Jesus.

God gave us Jesus on earth, and then sacrificed Him so that God’s people could be with Him. It is because of the sacrificial and generous nature of God that we have eternal life. The book of Romans reminds us of the true nature of God’s generosity: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) While there are many temporal things in this life that will certainly point to God’s generosity towards us, it is at the Cross that we see the culmination of God’s generosity. God gave Himself up for His people and poured all of Himself out so that we could be reconciled to Him forever. If He sacrificed all of Himself at the Cross, surely He takes care of us in the ways that truly matter.

As we continue our Lenten journey, here are a couple of questions to ponder. How has God been generous to you? And how can you share His generosity with those around you?