Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying,
“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”
Some times we can feel we’re a bit all ‘given out’. That we have nothing left, or perhaps that we’d like someone to give to us for a change.
As Christians we are called to love, and live generously.
To be generous, we need to hold what we have very loosely.
Nouwen points to being able to give means that we are moving from fear to love.
People who fear cling to things, hold them tightly around them. If you are afraid, you cannot let go, and you cannot give.
Nouwen also tells us that the word generosity comes from the same root as referring to being of one kind. And so true generosity comes from knowing not feeling. Those to whom I give belong to my family – whether I recognise them or not.
It is from that basis that we give. Not because we know, like or feel sorry for someone – but because they are our fellow human being.
Trust the Lord
7 Be patient and trust the Lord.
Don’t let it bother you
when all goes well for those
who do sinful things.
8 Don’t be angry or furious.
Anger can lead to sin.
9 All sinners will disappear,
but if you trust the Lord,
the land will be yours.
16 It is better to live right
and be poor
than to be sinful and rich.
21 An evil person borrows
and never pays back;
a good person is generous
and never stops giving.
At our church, we have a 10% Challenge going: Each week as we do our shop, we are challenged to calculate 10% of it and spend that on buying things for the Winter Shelter for the homeless in our town. That certainly focuses my mind – both on what I have in abundance that I take for granted and what others don’t have. I actually find myself grateful for the opportunity to give in that way – thought it costs me little in personal terms than some money.
Giving is not just about ‘things’, though it’s a place to start. Giving is about so much more – giving ourselves, our time, our skills, our attention, being open and available.
What have we, that someone else needs? How freely can I give? Can I let down my barriers, that I can let go – of what I have, of my very self?
Can we live, give and love generously? That is the work of God, the work begun at Christmas in the manger.
(h/t to Robb for these words http://bigbible.org.uk/2012/12/is-christmas-over/)
And the prayer from the book:
you who were given to the world
by your Father.
whose gift is beyond all generosity,
teach us to give generously
out of the love you have granted to us.
This year for Advent – and into Christmas, some friends and I are using Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen. You’re welcome to join us on this journey. Feel free to comment here, or on Twitter using #adventbookclub
Also blogging on the #adventbookclub are: