Lloyd C. Douglas tells the story of Thomas Hearne, who, “in his journey to the mouth of the Coppermine River, wrote that a few days after they had started on their expedition, a party of Indians stole most of their supplies. His comment on the apparent misfortune was: ‘The weight of our baggage being so much lightened, our next day’s journey was more swift and pleasant.’
Hearne was in route to something very interesting and important; and the loss of a few sides of bacon and a couple of bags of flour meant nothing more than an easing of the load. Had Hearne been holed in somewhere, in a cabin, resolved to spend his last days eking out an existence, and living on capital previously collected, the loss of some of his stores by plunder would probably have worried him almost to death.” (Lloyd C. Douglas, The Living Faith.)
If we think about it, we often tend to spend a lot of our time protecting and worrying about our resources because of fear of loss. Are we doing this out of necessity, or is it out of habit, or because we’ve experienced loss before? Does it give us comfort and a sense of security to never be with less than what we had the day before? Would we be willing, or even capable, to break away from these things in our life that we have become accustom to, and give up some of our resources, just to lighten our load a little, and perhaps use it to further Christ’s mission?
The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians (8:1-5) these words of encouragement to be generous: “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us.” (NRSV)
What Paul is implying in his message to the faithful followers in Corinth, is that even though he knows that their faith and their desire to live in love and in the truth of the gospel message of Christ, he also knows that they haven’t yet grasped the full meaning of being a generous disciple. So he uses the example of the believers in Macedonia as what he is expecting from the Corinthians to follow and live out. God’s generosity has been given to them, and it is God’s will that they also should be generous and give voluntarily to others according to their means, with joy, and without expectation of reward. Generosity flows from the heart, not the pocketbook.
The most inspiring acts of generosity are initiated by givers. Such giving multiplies and grows. God opens our eyes, ears, and hearts so we may act without waiting to be told to do so. Abundant generosity always starts with an eagerness to give, taking the first step, being bold for the sake of others. The unexpected gift is an expression of generosity that finds its origin in God. Generosity never waits; it acts. It looks for need and opportunity. Generosity that comes forth on its own is of God. The unexpected, generous gifts from faithful disciples committed to God’s peaceable kingdom are always found on the pathway to abundant generosity. (Pathway to Abundant Generosity, pg. 13, Community of Christ)
Do we have tendencies to only give when we are asked to give? Do we have tendencies to respond only when asked to respond? Or are we always looking for opportunities to give of ourselves before being asked? Are we eager to give of our time, talent, and treasure when needed? Generosity never waits, it acts.
Maybe it would be a good idea if we were to try and get rid of a few sides of bacon just to ease our load. Just to relieve some of the stress we have in owning and protecting that load. Then perhaps we could carry more weight when opportunity presents itself.
God’s grace, especially as revealed in Jesus Christ, is generous and unconditional. Having received God’s generous grace, we respond generously and graciously receive the generosity of others. We offer all we are and have to God’s purposes as revealed in Jesus Christ. We generously share our witness, resources, ministries, and sacraments according to our true capacity. (Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed. pg.12)
God graciously gives people gifts and opportunities to do good and to share in God’s purposes. Jesus Christ invites people to follow him by becoming disciples who share his life and ministry…We respond faithfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to our best understanding of God’s call. (Sharing in Community of Christ, 3rd ed. pg.13)
God has called us. He has given us gifts and opportunities. What will be your response?
Lighten your load and inspire to be generous. Generosity never waits, it acts!