Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
As we enter a season designated as a time of giving, I find myself contemplating what generosity actually looks like. I'm not about to launch into a diatribe condemning materiel avarice induced by the commercialization of Christ's birth. It is good to give gifts, but I think we encounter a problem when we feel that the requisite for generosity has been fulfilled completely in doing so.
Why do we force ourselves and others to examine our collective motive more closely this time of year? Why do we stretch our pocket books but often not our hearts?
I think it is because generosity is often difficult. It requires sacrifice. Emphasis on "sacrifice". Sadly, I think we find monetary sacrifice less formidable than emotional sacrifice. I am the guiltiest so don't feel as though I'm placing anyone on trial.
So what does emotional sacrifice, or generosity, look like?
Perhaps it is suspending the judgment in which we live of others:
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Perhaps it is sacrificing your time and giving your attention to someone else:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Perhaps it is sacrificing the selfishness with which we often don't even realize we are living:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
We could claim that these are easy tasks, but let's face it, they're often more difficult than we would like to admit. All the more reason to rejoice in the perfect grace that covers us when we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord! But that saving grace does not exempt us from sacrifice. We attempt good deeds and selflessness as a result of being saved by the Lord, not in order to be saved by the Lord.
Let's take a few minutes to pray and consider how the Lord wants us to show generosity today. I'm sure it will look different for each individual, and yet, very much the same.