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  • Writer's pictureJustin Carter

Four Ways to Be Generous (And Not Just With Money)

Generosity is at the heart of the Gospel and should be at the heart of what we do as Christians. We should be generous to others because God in Heaven has been generous to us. You have probably heard it said before, "You can never out give God." How true that is, especially when we think of the nature of Christ's sacrifice.

We should be generous to others because God in Heaven has been generous to us.

I have been thinking a lot on generosity as I have preached through the Book of Nehemiah, but I have thought of it more since I preached on Nehemiah 5. There was a dire circumstance in Jerusalem that was recorded in this passage. People were starving and in need of help. However, there was work to be done: the rebuilding of the wall. That was why Nehemiah was there, but in order to make progress with the wall the issues of the people needed to be addressed. Nehemiah stood up for their needs and showed generosity in his dealings with others.

There are lessons to be learned here, for sure, concerning how we treat other people and the ways in which we can be generous to them. Of course, we always think of generosity in the context of finances. That is a critical medium in which the Bible calls us to be generous, but for the purpose of this post I want to think about other ways to be generous. By no means am I saying that we should forget about financial generosity, but I do believe we fail to notice other ways in which we can be generous, especially in the context of our homes.

As I was reflecting on generosity, it occurred to me that these are ways in which almost anyone could show their care for someone else. Most importantly, these could be ways in which a door could open to share the good news of Jesus with someone who needs to hear it.

1. Be generous with your time.

Time is that most valuable resource that none of us could ever add to its sum.

And yet, it is that resource that has been granted to all of us by a good and gracious God. Even the homeless person without a dollar to his name has time. The question at hand is not, "Do I have the time for this?" The question is, "Is this something important that I need to make time for?"

Arguably, some are busier than others. For some, time may be something they have in rich abundance. If that's the case, it may not be a significant act of generosity to give someone your time. However, if you're like most people, it would seem like there are never enough hours in the day. Time, for most of us, is a very valuable resource. We should devote it to others well. We should be intentional about who takes up our time and who does not. If someone knows that you're busy, but you take time for them, what a wonderful impression you are bound to leave with that person!

2. Be generous with your attention.

This may seem similar in form with number one, but there truly is a difference between giving someone your time and giving someone your attention. This is something we need to take to heart in this day and age. When I was growing up there just wasn't that much to distract us from our conversations with other people. Today, virtually everyone could be seen checking their phone at some point in the conversation with another. In many ways we have grown used to it.

I find myself doing it without even realizing it. Do I have important things that need to be checked on my phone? Sometimes, but not very often. In today's time, it would be seen as a great act of generosity to devote your attention completely to one person at a time. Of course, this applies in the home as well. Our kids need our attention. We teach them this skill by how we pay attention to what they say.

I noticed something as time progressed when I was teaching school. Kids have a harder time communicating face to face than they once did. They are great at communicating online, but in-person communication is always more meaningful and impactful.

3. Be generous with your home.

This could mean different things for different people. However, the concept is still there for all of us - take a look around at your house. What do you have that is available to others that could be a blessing to them? In order for us to have the right frame of mind in this we need to be reminded that everything we have is ultimately the Lord's. We have to relinquish ownership and look at our home as a resource in which to bless others.

What do you have that is available to others that could be a blessing to them?

John Chrysostom preached about this quite a bit. He said, "Do I possess the house in which I live? No, it is only on loan to me from God while I remain in that place. Do I possess the clothes that I wear? No, they are on loan to me until they wear out, or until I give them away to someone in greater need. Do I possess this body that you see before you? No, it was lent to me by God, and he will take it back when I die. Do I possess the mind that is composing the words that I speak? No, that too was lent by God at my birth and will go when I die. So do I possess anything? Yes, I possess the virtues which during my life have grown and flourished within my soul."

Do you have an extra room to offer someone in need? Do you have a place where someone can take a shower if need be? What about simply having someone over for coffee every once in a while? Maybe someone outside your normal circle of friends? Just ask how things are going for them. You don't need an agenda or purpose for gathering. Just ask about them. That's a pretty generous thing to do in a world filled with self-adulation.

4. Be generous with your table.

This is an area I feel that my wife excels in. It has been hard with COVID, but I have been so blessed to see her generosity in hosting others for meals.

To be clear, this is not what I am saying - make sure that everything is perfect and pull out your best recipe for dinner guests. There is a time and a place for that, but we all know that usually can't happen too often if we're busy.

Here's what I am saying - do you always eat everything you cook for supper? According to one study 40% of our food supply is wasted each year in the United States. That's 80 billion pounds of food, the equivalent of 1,000 Empire State Buildings. That's 219lbs of food per person in the U.S. every year. $1,600 worth of produce is wasted every year per family. Yeah. Pretty crazy.

40% of our food supply is wasted each year in the United States.

If you're like us, even with a family of four, we still cook more than we actually eat almost every night. Why not invite someone over and help you eat all that food?

Another way to do this is very common in the South. If you have a garden, plant some extra just to give away. I spend maybe $100 on seeds every year, and we have plenty for the entire growing season for our little garden. There is no possible way we could eat all of it. What a blessing it is to others when you just show up with a bag of vegetables for them. There have been so many who have done the same for us over the years, and I remember each of them by name even today.

It doesn't always require money, but however you do it - decide to be generous to someone today.

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