Sunday, 2 March 2014

It really is more blessed to give than to receive

In England there is a reluctance to give and to be generous, especially to Christian enterprises, workers and clergy.  This is not the case in the USA and Canada where generosity abounds, and many Christian churches, causes, people and projects have benefited from the cheerful, open hearted giving of American folk. I know that I am generalizing and there are exceptions to what I have just stated. I know that Americans have had their generosity abused by prosperity preachers and greedy hirelings. But the evidence is there.  Through the tremendous generosity of North American Christians many churches and the mission fields have been able to advance the Kingdom of God and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ significantly. We should acknowledge and celebrate such generosity and commitment to the Lord's work.

In Britain we can be stifled by envy and jealousy.  Our stinginess does hamper our efforts. In Canada we have been called "cheap Brits", meaning stingy Brits.  God loves a cheerful giver. He blesses the widow's mite and honours those who honour Him (often by generosity and giving).  And I do not mean just financial giving. Time, effort, expertise, intercessory prayer and a caring commitment to carrying out what needs to be done are all aspects of giving and being generous.

My Father once told that me the difference between a American and a Brit is illustrated by the following tale.

When an American sees a guy with a really good car, an expensive one, he admires the car and says to himself, "Well that's a fine car, and I like it.  It would be good to own one like that.  I'll work hard, save up and get one.  Yes, I'll go out and get one, one day."

The Brit, on the other hand, sees the man with the fine car and says to himself, "That's a fine car, but why should he have it? What has he done to deserve it? Who does he think he is driving around in such a big and expensive car like that?"

I know this is a generalization and you don't think like that, do you? But this tale does touch on a very true aspect of British life, and church life.  We don't like it when others have more than we do, or have what we don't have and they do, perhaps in abundance.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.  Jealousy and envy eat into our souls and produce a mean-spirited attitude. There is great contentment in seeing others gain through our generosity.

Our North American cousins have learnt to invest in God's work and to see the joy that it brings. There is joy in generosity.  And I need to embrace it. I like to receive many blessings, but I am learning that it is better to be a blessing to others, and that involves generosity and giving. Jesus in His life, death and teaching demonstrated that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. God has given us so much.  We Christians have been given salvation by grace. And we have been given the great and gracious gift of the Holy Spirit.
Such generosity.  Thank God that He is not a mean-spirited Brit!

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