Competition for our Generosity

Posted on October 8, 2013 | 17 comments

(This is part 3 of a four-part series on generosity. Check out part 1 here, and part 2 here.)

As we looked at what Jesus said about our eye being the lamp of the body (review part 1 here), we came to see that our source of identity – the state of our connection to God – is displayed through our ability to see the needs of others. Our good eye is evidenced through our generosity with the time, talent, and treasure that we have been given.

Character (or lack thereof) is action that is the fruit of one’s identity. (Click here to tweet that.)

But, it is likewise true that our old nature – the false self – and the new nature in Christ are in conflict. Battling as we renew our minds and put off the old, comfortable strategies of the false.

So, what are blocks or competitions for our generosity?

1. Consumerism.

The competition of consumerism is tied to seeing our worth tied to what we have. Our culture is laced with it. Our economy is built on it – to the point that after disasters our political leaders remind us that the best thing we can do is spend money.

If having more stuff or better stuff or newer stuff than others is a pathway to feeling more significant or valuable, then generosity will be negatively impacted.

How does one give away something to which their identity is tied?

At best consumerism is a distraction from developing our foundation in Christ, as worst it is a path of self-sufficiency – wholeness apart from God.

2. Busyness.

Another one of our cultural mantras. The competition of busyness is evaluating our worth by what we do, how much we do, and how much we produce. Busyness feeds our identity when we struggle to justify quiet time spent listening for God. When spending time with the kids is seen as a waste because there is so much to be done.

Or when we race past those in need on our way to the next thing on our tightly packed schedule.

Busyness dulls the ability to see the need of others and further limits the ability to act on any needs perceived. Generosity takes away from getting more done, the source of worth.

3. Expectations.

Expectations are linking our perceived value to what people think of us.

Thing is, this person may look the part of being generous – doing the right things – acting generous, but the actions to not come from a desire to intervene in the needs of another.

The actions come from a desire to build their own self up. To be affirmed or needed in order to sustain identity – the sense of self.

Each of these three is a way to build self-security. This makes me think of the investment commercial on TV in which people are walking around with 6 and 7 figure numbers over their heads. The implication being – if I can just get to this level of financial security I will be OK. It is a way to subtly rely on our self and eliminate God and trust from the equation.

Check out Luke 12: 15 – 21. The man in this parable of Jesus had reached his magic number. But instead of bringing freedom in his relationship with God, the pursuit of this source of security caused him to forgo being generous with God.

He lost his good eye because he lost his connection to the Source of Life.

I’m not saying we should not save or prepare for retirement, there are plenty of proverbial principles that encourage wisdom in this area. But does the pursuit of saving, retirement, building security come at the expense of being able to be generous? Is there a balance with being open to seeing a need and having the ability to act?

And this boils down to trust.

In Genesis 22, when God provided the sacrifice in order to spare Abraham’s son Isaac, out of his gratitude Abraham named the place of the sacrifice “The Lord Will Provide”. Literally, the words say “The Lard will SEE”.

Abraham was attributing to God a good eye. God sees the legitimate needs we have and acts on them.

God is a generous God.

Do you trust that God sees?

Click here for part 1 of the series – The Source of Generosity

Click here for part 2 of the series – My Daughter’s Good Eye and the Pig

Click here for part 4 of the series – Living Generously

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  1. Wow! Lots of food for thought … and action here, Scott. And #4? How ’bout our self-centered hearts …

    • My belief is that a self-centered heart is the underlying root of the other three. Great point, thanks for the thoughtful response.

  2. I think the problem I have with being generous is that it’s impossible to be generous in all things. That if I’m giving here, here, and here, I have nothing left for “there.” But if you are just looking at what I’m doing “there,” it looks like I’m being ungenerous.

    • That is why generosity is measured from our connection within, rather than by externals. Great comment, thanks for sharing.

  3. It is really hard to find balance! When I do have balance in life in the 3 categories that you wrote about, my emotional life runs so much more smoothly! Then, I am able to do so much more, and be much more open to seeing God’s path for my life.

  4. This is like opening a book and starting in the middle. I am going back to read the first two parts.
    I came from The Meet & Greet Blog Hop

  5. I used to be erratic about being generous, never knowing the right way to go about it. I’ve found the older I get, the more in tune I have become that nudge that tells you when and where to add your gifts. 🙂

  6. Scott, this is a good word. So glad I stopped by today from Thriving Thursdays. 🙂

  7. The Busyness section certainly resonated with me. I think I place too much value on being busy – I think it is something that is valued in the farming community probably because you have to work very hard to make it in farming. But it certainly has carried through to my adult hood. Great article. Thank you for sharing on the Four Seasons Blog Hop. Have a great weekend and not too much busyness!

  8. If you pray about your giving, the Holy Spirit will direct you to exactly where God wants you to be of service. Sometimes it means giving your money to a very worthwhile organization and other times it means purchasing a pair of new shoes for a needy child in your very own neighborhood. Other times, it is simply taking the time to give someone a smile and a listening ear.

    We have to be quiet and listen and if we follow the direction of the Holy Spirit we will be given more opportunities to be of service to others.

    • Very true words. Thanks for stopping by and being part of the conversation.

  9. Thank you for sharing your awesome post on generosity with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” God was so generous when he sent his only Son to die in my place. I am so thankful that He GAVE.

    My anual cash giving in addition to my tithes at my church brings a red flag when I do my taxes each year.

    I agree that being generous must be according to the direction of the Lord. A new small monthly commitment to a young girl ministering in Africa brought an e-mail appeal today to give more assistance to the students she ministers to. I t was not the girl, but the organization she is working under. I had to honestly say, I was not able, as I am already over committed in my giving. There are so many needs, and we simply cannot give to them all.

    • We should, or course, have wisdom in our giving. You are smart to note that. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Such important truths here. It’s important to examine our hearts for generosity regularly to keep these diversions in check.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions and Connect With God

  11. Here from the MOHTH Weekend Blog hop, and I’m glad I chose to read this. Or did it choose me? Wonderful post, very enlightening and eye opening; it will be shared. Gracias.

    • Thanks for coming by, thanks for commenting, and thank you for sharing. Hope to see you back some time. As far as what brought you here – nothing happens by accident. Looking forward to checking your site out. God bless.

  12. Thanks for sharing this at What Are You Doing? Blog Hop!

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