Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Generosity



Recently, B and I met with some of the leadership of our church to talk about a traditionally difficult subject. It’s not something we Christians like to bring into the daylight. It’s kind of personal. And some people think it should just be kept between husband and wife.

We talked about giving.

Yes, that kind of giving. The giving-away-your-money kind of giving.

Prior to our Sunday afternoon seminar all of us had gone through a four-week devotional by Gordon MacDonald called “Generosity.” This was an interesting little book. Thought-provoking. And difficult to read sometimes because of the many convicting little zingers MacDonald has sprinkled throughout the book. (Thanks for that.)

So, with that book in our minds, we settled in for a good, long discussion about generosity and giving and how these relate to our own personal lives and to the life of our church.

Three hours later, minds blown, spirits crushed, B and I headed to our car to have a nice long cry. Not really. We actually came away energized and excited about what God is doing and has allowed us to be a part of.

During the seminar we watched several video clips, but one in particular really got to us. It was a clip of Tim Keller speaking about idols. Whoo boy! Talk about convicting! Keller basically said, “Look around you. Look at how you spend your time and what you spend your money on. Those are your idols. And don’t think you don’t have them—everybody does.”

I wondered, as you might, as I’m sure the moderator wanted us to, what are my idols? I bet my family could answer that question better than I could. They know what I value, what makes me downright cranky when it’s taken away.

I’ve pondered this question for a while: what are my idols? and I’ve come to see that one of my biggest ones is my time. Lately I’ve felt pulled in many different directions. I get tired sometimes. I realize that I’d be a terrible minister because I don’t always deal very graciously with the demands placed on me.

And yet, God keeps bringing opportunities my way. Chances to come alongside others, lend a hand, bring a meal, chat over coffee, speak to women. A privilege—service, relationships, community—that I don’t take lightly.

Pair Keller’s thoughts with something that MacDonald said: “Heaven deals with the currency of love, grace, kindness, mercy, and benevolence. It recognizes the currency of humility, service, and witness. It honors the currency of defense on behalf of the widow and the orphan, the weak and the poor, the sick and the aged.”

As I read that I thought, that doesn't have much to do with money at all, and I realized that God also stores up the hours we spend showing grace to others as treasure in Heaven.

To me, time is a more valuable commodity than money. Money, to me, is different—I haven’t made any in years. *ha!* But I do have time, a limited amount every day that God is asking me to use to His glory, to pour into others, to extend grace.

Will I be generous with my time? Will you?

Now, if you're brave enough, let's talk about idols. What are the things that make you cranky if you don't have them? How can you open your hand and let go of these things?

Shelly

4 comments:

  1. Shelly, you achieved your goal~making me to stop & think. I will consider this question for awhile. I'm desiring to rid myself of those things that I place before HIM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Shelly, I also blogged about Tim Keller and the talk on idols! It definitely had me thinking, as did the entire generosity conference. Praying through more what all this looks like.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I saw your post, Carolyn, but didn't have time to comment that day. I liked your perspective on it. Wasn't it a great seminar??!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the perspective (the truth!) you share here. It's such a great point. Cory and I are really gnawing on these same sorts of things lately. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete