“You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity,
which will produce thanksgiving to God through us;
for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints
but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.”
(II Corinthians 9:11-12)
The practice of generosity stretches us to offer our best to God, to have an attitude of giving that is joyous and from the heart. It is a practice of thoughtful giving that is planned and extravagant. It is giving that is more than dutiful, required, or simply doing one’s part. It is giving above and beyond the limits of what we think we are capable of accomplishing.
Robert Schnase says that people who practice extravagant generosity change their own lives in order to become more generous. They become rich in giving. When they see a need, they step forward to meet the need without being asked. They look at difficult financial times through the eyes of faith rather than of fear. They persist in doing good. They give in all seasons. They delight in generosity. They give expecting nothing in return.
People who practice extravagant generosity aspire, like Paul to know the secret of being content with what they have. They give thanks in all circumstances. They realize that all that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. As we pause this week with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings, may our prayers of thanksgiving to God be at the heart of our thanks and create in us a desire for extravagant generosity.
Churches that cultivate extravagant generosity emphasize the difference giving makes for the purposes of Christ and in the life of the giver. They emphasize the Christian’s need to give more than the church’s need for money. In churches where this is practiced, people delight in giving. Pledge campaigns are not about money, dollars, and budgets but about mission, spiritual growth, and a relationship to God.
Stewardship deepens our prayer life, builds community, unites us with a purpose, and clarifies our mission. We are strengthened and grateful to serve God through our giving.
Churches that practice extravagant generosity encourage people to grow in their giving, to give more now than in the past and more in the future than they do today. They share stories of lives changed by generosity.
(Adapted from Practicing Extravagant Generosity by Robert Schnase)
As we pause this week with family and friends to share in an abundance of food and fellowship, may our hearts be aware of those who do not have an abundance of food, those who find it hard to gather with friends and family due to war and strife, those who are lonely and grieving for loved ones who are not at the table as they have been in the past, and those who are afraid and see only the scarcity in their lives.
Let your abundance of thanks inspire you to find ways to give and show extravagant generosity:
- Find a place to help serve a meal to someone who is hungry
- Invite someone who is alone to share a meal at your table
- Hand out food gift cards to people on the streets of your community
- Send a note to someone who needs an encouraging word
- Find a new area of mission where you can give of your time and treasures
- Take a meal to a shut-in and spend time with them
- Give an extra gift in this week’s offering
As we give thanks, may we also show our thanks in our giving.
Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship
Presbytery of the James