Generosity and the Incarnation
This is the time of the year when my wife Cleo makes a list of people back home in the Philippines who she can bless with a financial gift or a gift of rice. Many of these are friends from the past who took her in when she traveled, went to college, or was involved in ministry communities.
Most on her list are poor and live job to job on meager pesos. But what Cleo always remembers is how they opened their humble home and always shared the little they had with her. It might have been a bowl of rice, a dried fish, and a vegetable but she was always welcome at the table and could sleep on their floor for the night. They shared their lives, their table, and their home.
When Cleo talks about these women, she is profoundly moved by their generosity to her and tells me how little they had. How poor they were. And usually, how involved in ministry they were. All these years later, the love they demonstrated to her is just as vivid and hence she wants to bless them in return.
Where does this kind of generosity come from? It comes from hearts that have been changed by God's love toward them. In the incarnation, God gave the very best that He had - His Son. The King became a human, the creator, a creature, the Sovereign of the Universe, welcomed by cows in a manger unknowingly looking into the eyes of the one who created them. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). And He fills our lives with His grace and invites us to be generous in every way with others as he has been with us.
In his encouragement to the Corinthians to be generous, Paul writes this. "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:10).
Our generosity to others reflects God's amazing generosity to us. And our generosity on behalf of Him brings praise back to God as we bless those who need it. It is a virtuous cycle and is rooted in the incarnation.
And here is the thing. We don't need to be wealthy to be generous. Cleo's friends were not. They were poor and gave out of their poverty and it left a lasting impression on her. Here is my challenge today. Who can you be generous with this Christmas season? Who can you bless as you have been richly blessed? Today we received a video of one of her friends receiving two 25-pound bags of rice. The joy on their faces and memories of Cleo was priceless.
Father, give me your heart of generosity. Give to me an incarnational heart that wants to bless others as You have blessed me. Amen