(Recommended Reading: Luke 6:27-38)
I believe that when we learn to live our lives as a generous person – in every aspect – we will be so much happier and fulfilled.
If you make a comment like “live generously” to some people, they will automatically think you are only talking about money. Although it is a good thing to be generous with money if you can afford to be so, that is not all there is to living generously.
I like the way the Bible translation The Message explains it in Luke 6:27-34, when Jesus speaking says this: “‘To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more payback. Live generously.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.’”
If, as the Word says, we should love our enemies and not let them bring out the worst in us, but the best – that would definitely be a generous response. The natural instinct of most people is to react in a negative way when an “enemy” does something that upsets us. Sometimes things are done or said to us accidentally that offend or hurt us; but, sometimes people will do things intentionally that they know will push our buttons bringing out a negative response. I believe that can be called passive-aggressive behavior. If we can learn to respond in a generous manner with our kind responses to that, it will eventually put an end to their actions – it takes the challenge and fun out of it.
Then the verses that follow, talk about praying for those that offend us and not responding in kind to negative behavior directed at us. I must confess that just thinking about reacting like that in circumstances given as examples is difficult for me to comprehend. I do not know about you, but I fear my natural reaction would be to strike back. But just think about how that would hopefully take the air out of their balloon of negativity if the response can be a generous one instead!
From that passage quoted above, verse 31 from the NIV translation says it this way: “‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’” That verse is what most of us know as “The Golden Rule.” Can you even imagine how much better the world would be if everyone just lived by that one premise? If we all only treated others with kindness, consideration, love, gentleness and generosity? It would be world changing – and in reality – it should NOT be that difficult!
Why the tendency to only love the lovable; help those that can and will help us in return; give, hoping that things will be given back to us? Those are the expectations of people that live ungodly lives. That should be the tip-off right there, that we should strive to do the opposite. To live as a Christian that wants to please our God, and be happier in general, we should strive every day to live generously.
So, now that we are just over a week into the new year, I would issue a challenge to myself and all of you, to think before we speak and act. Do to and for others as we would like to have them do to and for us. In other words, live generously.
Written by Karran Martin – January 7, 2023