The Beauty of Generosity

My husband and his mother are the most generous souls I have ever encountered. I recall one day asking God to make me like them. Since then, I have taken mental notes of characteristics that generous people possess.

First, the generous person is fearless. Could it be because they have a perfect love that casts out fear? (1 John 4:18) They are unafraid that what they are giving away will mean a deficit for them. Their free-hearted giving seems almost reckless at times, but they genuinely believe it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). They cannot seem to rest until they have served someone through giving. Do you know anyone like this?

Second, generous people possess a beautiful faith. They believe that God will fill the void their giving created. They don’t worry that their resources will dry up. The apostle Paul assured some poor and needy but extravagantly generous people of this very truth. These believers begged for the priviledge of giving out of their meager resources and when they did, Paul wrote to them, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed….” In other words, generous people recognize that giving is the best means of getting. Isn’t this contrary to human nature? We think hoarding is the way to meeting our needs, but the loving heart of God cannot resist refilling a void made through generosity. Isn’t that beautiful?

Third, generous folks don’t worry about whether they get payed back. There is a peacefulness to their generosity that is absent of record-keeping. To them, the act of giving is its own reward.

Finally, generous people live an exciting life because they have a front row seat to see the many creative ways God comes through for them. They know God is going to provide, they just don’t know how. When He does, they rejoice and then joyously share what they receive with others because they believe receiving is best enjoyed when shared.

Are you a generous person? What things stand in the way of your being so? How do you want to ask God to help you be a more giving person?

Hope for the People-Pleaser in You

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10.

Do you struggle with people-pleasing? Do you do things you don’t want in order to avoid someone’s anger or disappointment only to find you’ve angered and disappointed yourself? Do you obligate yourself to say “yes”when you mean “no”? Do you find yourself so overburdened with pleasing people that you have no energy left for the most important things? Most of us have this problem to some degree. How do you conquer this?

To overcome this habit, your focus has to change. People-pleasing places other people and their preferences at the center of your universe. For the follower of Christ, only He should occupy that place in your life. It is impossible to please God and people all the time and at the same time.

One way that helps me is to remember that one day I will stand and give an account before God about the life I lived. It’s a sobering thought that helps me look beyond people straight into His all-knowing gaze. When I recall that He expects me to make His agenda my agenda, what other people think and want begins to pale. I suspect that on that great Day, He will hear no excuses about what others wanted me to do with the assignments He gave me.

People-pleasing can distract you if you are not daily aware of God’s presence. The noise of social media, constant activities, and personal insecurities tend to drown out the voice of God unless you are intentional about keeping Him in His rightful place throughout the day. Daily time in His Word, intentional meditation on what He says there, regular worship, and an ongoing prayer life are some of the best practices in tearing down the stronghold of people-pleasing.

How well are you doing in these four areas? Which one might you need to give more attention?

Your Perseverance Will Pay Off

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10

You can do this. The fear may never go away so you must determine to move forward in spite of it. You knew it wouldn’t be easy, but you probably didn’t expect it to be this hard. God knew how difficult this would be for you and He already had a plan to be strength in your weakness.

You may be angry that God has not ended your trial, answered your pleading, or healed what hurts. You may be tired of all the answers you know you should believe. Please don’t stop believing. Part of persevering means continuing to obey God when it makes no sense to you. Just because you don’t think you are improving does not mean you’re stagnant. You are not always the best judge in measuring your growth while you’re growing. God has said He will be faithful to complete the work He began in you, but that means you keep going even when you don’t feel like it. It also means exercising the humility of surrendering to His process. Why make it harder than necessary?

One day you will reap the reward of persevering, but only if you keep going. You are not in this alone, but you alone can choose to finish well. You’ve come too far to turn back now.

When Friends Can’t Be There

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

I hope you are blessed with people who help you weather the tough times in life; people who could have walked away long ago but have shown epic loyalty and support. Even the best of friends and relatives have limits. They are human and they get tired or they have seasons of trouble in their own lives and can’t be there for you. A good friend gives another friend permission to be human and occasionally unavailable. If you are especially blessed, you have more than one good friend so that you don’t wear out the first one. Still, sometimes all of your friends are occupied when you need them most, and you feel alone.

Only Jesus has the unique ability to stay with you always. Even when you feel He is absent, know that your feelings can lie. Talk to Him, write to Him in your journal, or you may even sing to Him. Trusting He is there despite your feelings exercises faith, which may be part of why you may not sense His presence. God wants to teach you to stand on His Word when you have nothing else on which to stand. Fill the loneliness with reminders of His promises and of times when He came through for you. Real friends will find you again, and the reunion will refresh you. Until then, sit on the Savior’s lap and tell Him all that is in your heart. He listens better than anyone else you know, and His love endures forever.

God Will Take Care of You

Stepping out in a new direction can be scary. Your mind tells you all that could go wrong and your fears scream, “Are you out of your mind? You can’t do this! Be reasonable!” You get to a point, though, where your passion overrides all the excuses for stalling, and you refuse to break your stride forward.

But still, you’re afraid.

Fear not, My Friend. God will take care of you! You don’t have to have all the answers to feel secure about where you’re going. It is enough that the One Who called you knows the way. Faith in Him is all the fuel you need to get to your destination. He promised to supply all your need according His resources, not yours. (Philippians 4:19) He promised you will never be alone in this (Hebrews 13:5b). He promised you will know what you need to know when you need to know it. (Isaiah 30:21) Has He ever let you down? Trust Him.

The journey will take courage, but you have what it takes because you have Him! Sometimes the most courageous thing you will do is wait when you want to rush ahead. Other times you will need to take an opportunity when you feel inadequate. Either way, grab His hand, swallow hard, and obey. You are doing something that matters. Go in confident assurance in the promise that when you take care of God’s business first, God will take care of you! (Matthew 6:33)

Lighten Up!

“…My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

God is holy, but He’s not uptight. The same God Who said, “Thou shall not” also installed laughter in the human experience. Don’t get the idea that the less fun you’re having, the holier you are. He came that you might have life and that same life in abundance (John 10:10). You may be used to finding life and laughter in the wrong things, with the wrong people, and in the wrong places. Let Him change that. Maybe the idea of holiness and happiness seems an impossible mix, but not with God! I dare you to ask Him to concoct this combination in your life. He’ll do it and you’ll love it!!

Surrender is the starting place. Agree to declutter any places in your life that contain ungodly entertainment, including gossip and fun at the expense of hurting others. Ask Him for help with the dirty parts that have been dearest to you. Ignore the lie that you’ll be bored without them. Give God a chance to show you what a genuine good time feels like. Warning: this kind of joy can be addictive, and you may become a good influence on those around you.

You will discover that your old ways weighed you down with guilt, regret, and sinister side-effects on your reputation and relationships. Roll it all over on the cross and walk with the lightness of forgiveness and a new start. Don’t view surrender like, “Look at all I have to give up!” Instead, see it as creating a void for God to fill up. His reputation for generosity will overwhelm you, and you’ll wonder why you ever settled for less.

You Already Matter

Colossians 2:10 “…and you are complete in Him…”

You don’t have to accomplish anything, make something of yourself, or be more of anything else for your life to matter. Our culture has an impossible list of requirements before they deem you acceptable. Because of Christ’s finished work, God has no such list. He came looking for you while you were at your worst for no other reason but that He loved you. It may take a lifetime to grasp that concept, but your joy will increase with every handful. He loves you because of Who He is, not because of what you are, what you offer, or even what you will become. He doesn’t need anything from you. He just wants you! He wants to restore what you lost before you were even born.

Come closer, My Friend, drop that heavy load of pretending to have it together, peel off that mask with the painted-on smile. You can rest that dragon-slayer look you hide behind for protection. Kick off the blistering shoes of perfection and let the weighty wig of insecurity fall at His feet. This nakedness can be a dangerous vulnerability in front of others, but never before your Redeemer. He knows the worst of you so hiding is ridiculous. Oh, but the love, once you dare to embrace it, has great power! It can saturate and heal the wounds left on your spirit by words and deeds designed to destroy you. It infuses supernatural steel in your spine where fear once coursed.(1 John 4:18). It gives your complexion that glow of joy like no cosmetic can. It sucks the darkness out of your future and though you still can’t see it clearly, you know He’s already there, making it bright with His presence.

When you let Christ in, His love changes you for the better. With your cooperation, His love transforms you into the better person you never knew you could become. He loves you as you are now and He will love you at every stage of growth. It will take time to believe it isn’t too good to be true. He’ll wait. The best way to expedite the process is to park the deepest part of you in the wonderland of His Word where daily He loads you up with truth about his feelings for you. Some days it will be so sweet you can hardly stand it. It will make you want to love Him back through some form of service. That service will not be earning His love or securing a fickle favor. It will be an offering you can’t help but bring out of gratitude that His great heart thinks you matter and you always have.

Question: What area of your life causes the most struggle in believing you matter? Who or what do you think is behind this idea? What truth do you need to embrace to break out of this struggle?