(Lead me Lord,) by gratitude to generosity of spirit.
At First Presbyterian Church in Fargo we are entering into a two year focus on generosity. That focus will connect to our generosity in offering our gifts back to God: financially, our time, and our talents too. We want to learn to be more generous because it is easy to see how generous God is. Beyond time, talent, and money, there is another aspect of generosity which is essential to faithful discipleship. That is to be of generous spirit. Having a generosity of spirit largely plays out in how we relate to and serve others. Generosity of spirit is what turns our service to others from grudging obedience into joyful engagement.
To be generous of spirit is to embody many of the descriptions which Paul gives for “love” in his letter to the Corinthians. We learn to love others without insisting on our own way, without harboring secret glee at the downfall of our enemies. We grow in our capacity to love others patiently, and to love bearing, hoping, believing, and enduring much that might previously have caused us to be callous. Generosity of spirit means that we cease to be calculating people, always wondering “what is in it for me?” or “how much will this cost me?” We become more and more like the sower in Jesus’ parable who scatters the seed generously knowing that not all of it will land on fertile ground [see Matt 13:18-23].
We are able to be generous in this way because we have ceased to be interested in the relative merit of those around us. We stop judging them, stop assigning to them a value. Generosity of spirit allows us to cultivate be ability to see others as God sees them. Paul writes:
[2 Cor. 5:16-19 NRSV] From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
Our movement from grace to gratitude and from gratitude to generosity of spirit is ultimately part of a larger movement aimed at shaping us in compassion as we will see in tomorrow’s devotion. It is enough today to commit ourselves to stop being parsimonious in our interactions with those who need us, and to further set as our goal that we grow in joyful generosity toward all.
Daily Collect: Lord, you tell us that to be like our Father in heaven we should let the sun rise and the rain fall on the good and bad alike (Matt 5:43-48) — that we should be generous in mercy. Help us as we make our pilgrimage of faith to grow in generosity of spirit so that we too become so full of mercy that we become disinterested in the merit of those around us because we are more interested in serving as ambassadors of your reconciling love. Amen.