So, let me encourage you to think about God's Outrageous Generosity. Actually, do more than think about it. I challenge you to do a sermon (or sermon series) on this topic. And the best time to start with it is Easter Sunday 2012. Take the month of April and preach on this subject and challenge your listeners to "be imitators of God," the person in whose image they were created.
Humans are born with two life-sustaining instincts (something that every human baby does): grasping (taking hold) and sucking (taking in). God's instinct is to give everything away (read the Bible, you'll see that pretty soon). The greatest example of how God personified Outrageous Generosity was on Good Friday on a cross - Jesus opened his hands for the spikes and his arms for the cross and died for all humanity. That's OUTRAGEOUS!
Now, how can you be generous, even outrageously generous?
- In your personal life
- Be generous by spending more time with your kids helping with their homework
- Be generous with the time you give your spouse; go on a date once a month and a weekend away at least once a year
- Be generous with other generations: call your parents or kids in college at least once a week
- Be generous with yourself: take your family on a memorable vacation - you need to get away from work and be with the ones who love you and whom you love
- Be generous in creating memories. Every present you give on Christmas morning will end up in a landfill but the memories you give them will last a lifetime!
- In your professional life
- Be generous with the credit at work: give someone else credit for a job even though you did 90% of the work
- Be generous with someone else's career: let someone else get a promotion
- Be generous with your words of praise: encourage someone talented to start their own business or go for a new career
- In your pocketbook
- Be generous in how you give, not just how much. Think long and hard about the recipients and even do some homework by calling, visiting, and even studying the financial records of the organizations who get your money
- Be generous with why you give. In the US we get a tax break for our gifts but that shouldn't be the reason for giving. While giving benefits other people, giving actually benefits you far more because it makes you wrestle personally with the amount and recipient of your hard-earned cash. Get the right motivation for giving and a tax-break (more money for you) is not a good enough reason.
- Be generous with when you give. Yes, you can wait till you die and leave everything in your will. That's kind of like saving all the Christmas presents and giving them away in your will. Isn't the greatest gift of Christmas morning seeing the joy in others when they open a gift from you. Give NOW so that you can see the joy that others experience.
- Be generous with how much you give. Believe me, you won't miss it.
- In your faith
- Be generous with the knowledge that every person is searching for God. Humans by nature seek God (we've never found chimpanzees worshiping or creating any type of religious icon!) - that makes us unique among all animal (every single human culture on earth has some form of faith).
- Be generous in your own search. Most people inherit a faith from their parents. I believe a faith that isn't questioned isn't a faith worth having. Ask hard questions even if it means wondering about the foundations of your faith. And when you have solid answers, hold on to that faith
- Be generous in asking others about their own faith. It's a tough conversation but if you care about someone, it's a necessary one. Everyone is seeking something; encourage that search.
- Be generous with God. You may have questions about God and you may not like him at all for a bunch of reasons. But God can say the same thing about you and yet he loves being with you. Why not give God a chance and spend some time together?