When Jesus spoke about anxiety, He taught us that we are called to trust a very generous God. If God clothes the fields with grass and feeds the birds of the air, how much more will He be generous with us, His image bearers? It’s a lesson that’s not as much about the importance of our level of trust as it is about Who we are trusting and how generous He is with all of His creation.
Jesus also compared the way of the Gentiles, and their gods with them, to the way of the Lord. The Gentiles worry because their gods are ultimately powerless. The people of the Lord don’t need to worry because our God is both Creator and Sustainer. He called everything into existence and by His will we continue to live and breathe and have our being. So why would we fear starvation or worry about having clothes to wear?
It’s likely that none of us are afraid of death by starvation or exposure to the elements. We’re more likely to fear getting a painful diagnosis, being unable to afford our car payment, or needing the money to put our kids through college. Thankfully, God knows about our worries and He has already given us the cure. Instead of worrying, we’re told to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”
Seeking doesn’t mean we have all the answers. As anxiety knocks on the door of our thoughts over and over, we can quiet those knocks by shifting our focus from needing answers about our own well-being to trusting that God has our best interest at heart. He never stops working for our maximum good.
When we seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, we’re walking in the footsteps of Jesus who “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2) for the sake of the Kingdom that’s not built with hands because Jesus knew the Father is good and His mercy endures forever.
Quieting those anxious thoughts means trusting God so much that we turn from worry about ourselves and turn to wondering how we can honor God and His people.
This video from The Bible Project further explores the biblical concept of Generosity.
A healthy lake has at a minimum two things: a flow of good water coming into it from a stream or river as well as a flow of water out of it, also in the form of a river or a brook. Without both of those, a lake dries up or becomes stagnant.
Likewise, something similar is true of us when it comes to generosity. God wants His people to be generous. In other words, there should be an outflow of generosity from those who are God’s children. The Lord regularly reminds His people of that throughout Scripture. For example, the Israelites were told to be generous lenders and givers (Deut. 15:8, 10). Proverbs has a reminder, “He who is generous will be blessed…” (Prov. 22:9). Timothy instructed the church “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). “Generous” should describe Christians the way that “white” describes snow or “beautiful” describes Yosemite. Anything less is a distorted image of what it means to be a Christ-follower.
The only way to have that outflow of generosity, however, is to have it result from an inflowing of God’s generosity toward us. All good and healthy traits find their source in God Himself. We let His essence, His being, flow through us to others. This is true of generosity as well. Generous acts don’t begin with us. God is the initiator of all good things, generosity included. We are the recipients. We pass along what we receive from Him. That’s how the writer of 1 Chronicles reflected on the exhortations to generosity:
“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You” (1 Chronicles 29:14).
While generosity includes the use of monetary resources, it can be more—being generous with words of encouragement, the gift of time or simply the gift of presence. All of us can be generous, even if the bank account is low.
While Old Testament saints were able to be generous because of the Lord’s generosity toward them, those of us who are New Covenant believers have even greater evidence of the lavishness of God’s generous nature in the person of Jesus, the One who left the riches of heaven to come in poverty, that we who are poor might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
That said, here are some generosity ‘inflow’ and ‘outflow’ questions to prayerfully consider:
How much would generosity be considered a distinguishing characteristic in your life? To whatever extent it may be lacking to some degree, prayerfully ask the Lord to help you see why that is.
How frequently do you recognize, and think about, the ways that God is lavishly generous to you? How frequently do you intentionally look for ways that God is generous with you?
To whom can you practice generosity this holiday season?
As Thanksgiving approaches, it is a good time to reflect on that for which we are thankful. I hear people say all kinds of things they are thankful for. These include their families, jobs, health, or even their bank accounts. While these are indeed good things, have you considered that all of this would not be possible without the generous nature of our God?
In the book of Genesis, God is portrayed as a generous host who provides everything needed for His creation to enjoy. God appoints humanity (Adam and Eve) to be co-rulers over His creation and generously supplies for all their needs. He asks them to trust in His generous provision and live according to His wisdom.
But Satan came into the garden as a serpent and deceived mankind to think that God was not generous, but was actually holding out on them. He tricked them into focusing on what they did not have instead of fixating on all the wonderful things He had given them. The result was the fall of man as they sinned against God. Instead of trusting in the truth of God’s gracious generosity, they trusted in a lie and believed they needed more than what God had generously provided.
The rest of the Old Testament demonstrates how God chose a people (Israel) on whom to pour out His generous blessing. But humanity constantly rebelled against Him and selfishly wanted more and more, just as Adam and Eve did. They were never satisfied. Sadly, the Old Testament concludes with God going silent and mankind remaining in a state of selfishness, rebellion, and sin.
As we turn the page to the New Testament, one might think that God would bring utter destruction and judgment upon humankind. But instead, we are stunned by God’s incredible generosity.
God sends His own Son, Jesus Christ, as the most generous and gracious gift to selfish and ungrateful humanity. Jesus could have come to live in opulence, but instead, He chose to live a life without comfort or abundance. He lived without the comforts of this life so that He could relate to the poorest of the poor and share God’s generosity with all who would receive Him. Jesus was so generous that He gave His own life and allowed His own people to kill Him, so that He alone could pay the enormous cost of their sin.
In Jesus, we see this unfathomable generosity of God. Because of God’s love and provision provided in Jesus, mankind has a new opportunity to trust in God rather than to selfishly trust in self or the things of this world.
Remember what Jesus said: “Do not worry about what you will eat or what you drink or what you will wear. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33).
Where is your focus this Thanksgiving? Is it on what you do not have or is your focus on what God has generously given in Jesus Christ? Jesus also said: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). Jesus is God’s most generous gift to mankind!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Hopefully, we are thankful for all His blessings. Ultimately, though, I am thankful for Jesus Christ because He truly is God’s most generous gift and my greatest treasure!