3 Powerful Ways to Live Generously

06.02.16 | Spiritual Growth | by John UpChurch

Leviticus doesn’t often rank highly in our list of favorite books of the Bible. It’s a book about rules, with a side of rules, topped with rules. And — honestly — some seem just plain weird to our Western way of looking at things.

But at the core, there’s more to this book than how to be a priest or what offering goes with which feast day. There’s a heart of compassion and generosity that beats right through all the regulations. Take this one, for example:

“Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9–10)

Leave some, give some, because your Father in heaven has given to you. That’s the same principle Jesus applied when His hungry disciples snapped up a few heads of grain while they passed through the fields one Sabbath day (Matthew 12:1). The Pharisees flagged the disciples on a rule’s violation; Jesus dismissed the penalty on the grounds of God’s call to mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 12:7). The play was upheld: touchdown generous living.

God expects us to value mercy like He does. Going to church is great. Spending time reading God’s Word is fantastic. Praying daily is essential. But none of that matters without love, without that generous lifestyle (1 Corinthians 13). We’re simply building a pretty looking sandcastle that won’t survive the tide (Luke 6:46–49).

But what exactly does it mean to live a generous life? Glad you asked.

Generous with Our Time

A few years ago, I did an experiment. I took note of everything I did each day outside of work and sleep. Then, I put everything into buckets: me time, family time, God time and other people time. The results hurt. Somedays, I’d spend as much as 50% of my time in the “me” bucket when you factored in news websites, Wii games, Instagram scrolling and Netflix binge watching. Family time took 30%; God time and other people time both took 10%.

Obviously, I valued me time.

I challenge you to try the same experiment, and the results may shock you as well. We often just fall into things because we don’t really have a plan for how we use our time. Without being intentional each day, we’re at the mercy of our whims. If a show looks interesting, we watch it. If that game of solitaire just won’t bend to our will, we keep playing until it does.

But if we’re to be generous with our lives, we have to start with where we invest time. Dropping our junk and taking up our crosses means surrendering the clock to God’s directing. Easy? No way. But even something as simple as plotting out some goals each week can make us more generous with where we spend our minutes.

Consider: How can you invest more time this week into things that truly matter to God’s Kingdom?

Generous with Our Presence

When it comes to generous living, some people shame me. They really get one of the most important parts — the power of sharing you.

Shamer-in-chief here is my friend Geoff, who owns a farm and a landscaping company in Virginia. No matter how busy the guy is with building barns, adopting a child from Africa or being a husband, he always stops to find out what he can do to help. And I don’t mean a “how are you?” kind of stopping. I mean a “what’s really going on?” sort of way. He plans his time with margin for pouring encouragement into others. He knows that being there matters.

Jesus stopped on His way to Jairus’ house to confront and comfort a woman who took a huge faith-risk. Even with important work to do, He refused to let the crush of the crowd and the urgency of the moment stop Him from speaking life into her. As a result, she found freedom from her suffering (Mark 5:21–34).

As you plan to be generous with your time, one of the most important ways to spend it is in intentionally loving the people around you. They need sympathy, laughter and the Gospel. That’s what we as Christians have got.

Consider: Do you know someone who could use some of your intentional time this week?

Generous with Our Stuff

You probably expected money to fit in this list somewhere. After all, God has a lot to say about bling in His Word. But before you tune out, keep in mind that everything we have comes from God anyway. In Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Our time, our presence, our stuff — that’s all from Him.

When we invest in something for the purposes of the Gospel, we’re really just giving His money and His resources. If we’re willing, we get to be the conduit through which He works. That’s an exciting thought.

Our God is a joyful, sacrificial giver, and that’s what He’s called us to be as well.

Consider: Have you resisted giving because it would mean losing out on something you want?

You have an opportunity to practice living generously every day as you faithfully tithe and give offerings to Pinelake. Our new giving system makes it faster and easier than ever to take part in the work God is doing here in Mississippi and around the world.