You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere during the the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Monday After: Sunday, October 15, 2012: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Transformation

By Ted Brooks

Am I a generous person?   My first reaction is, “Yes, I am.”

One of my great joys is giving to my family. I always tip well and pay more than my share of the bill. I give regularly to church and missions.  I am always willing to lend a hand to anyone who asks.  I volunteer in many different ways and even help lead a team that feeds the homeless.  So when Joe started talking about generosity I felt that I could probably just sit back and pat myself on the back a bit.  But as I listened, I began to get a deeper understanding of true generosity.

Many things that we think are acts of generosity are actually pretty self-serving.   When I give to my family I expect to share in their fun and for them to express love and gratitude.  When I leave a good tip I am hoping that I will reap the benefits of future good service.  Even in serving meals to the homeless, many of them will duck their head into the kitchen on their way out to give a special thanks to the cook.  In many ways I receive benefits from these acts of generosity that almost equal my “expenses”.  I suppose I could have kept the money and spent it on myself, but the reality is that there isn’t much that I could buy that would equal the laughter of my family or the thanks of a needy person.  This is the most basic level of generosity — giving something knowing that you will get something in return.
But what if I didn’t get anything in return?  I’d like to think that I would continue to do all of these acts of generosity even if no one thanked or appreciated me.  Many times I have given my kids rides and they bolted out of the car without thanking me, but I still went back and picked them up.  For every person who stopped in the kitchen to thank me for the meal, two others just left; but I still cook for all of them.   This then is the next level of generosity.  Giving without really expecting anything in return.  It’s generosity simply because we believe it is the right thing to do.  It’s donating to fight cancer or putting your change in the Ronald McDonald House box.  It’s helping with Operation Christmas Child or refereeing Upward Basketball when you don’t have kids on a team.  And it’s putting money in the offering plate.  No one is going to come up and personally thank you for any of these things.  You just do it because you believe it is the right thing to do.

There seem to be less and less people practicing this type of generosity these days.  Fortunately, it seems like quite a few of the people who practice this type of generosity call Immanuel home.  There are many, many quiet servants at Immanuel who give generously of their money, time and talent each week.  They set up chairs and microphones early Sunday morning, they run concessions at Upward Basketball, they stand in the snow directing traffic and wipe the bathroom counters between services. They aren’t often thanked, but they do it week after week because they believe it’s the right thing to do.  God sees all these acts of service and, someday, these generous, humble servants will get the rewards that they never received on Earth. Again, this is the second level of generosity, giving without really expecting anything in return.

But then Joe challenged us to yet an even higher level when he said, “True generosity begins when it starts to hurt.”  Ouch.  I can say that I have certainly given generously when I expected something in return.  I can even claim times I have given when I didn’t expect anything in return, but even on those occasions I wouldn’t say that it “hurt”.  Inconvenient, maybe even a little frustrating at times, but I can’t claim many instances when I gave and it really hurt.

This is widow’s mite level generosity.

This is giving to others when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.  This is giving to people who not only don’t thank you but are rude and disrespectful to you.  This is Jesus hanging on a cross for the very people who nailed him to it level generosity.

Am I generous person?  I’m not really so sure anymore.

I guess I’ll know the answer next time God asks me to do something that really hurts.

Ted Brooks is husband to Gretchen and dad to some wonderful kids. He works as a tech director for a local school district.

4 thoughts on “The Monday After: Living a Generous Life: Moving Toward Transformation {Ted}

  1. Ted, this gets beneath the surface and captures the essence of generosity. I’m learning this WITH you bro. Thanks for the great words.

  2. Ted, your mention of the widow’s gift has left me pondering this level me pondering this level of generosity in my own life. Thank you for that. Your honesty is appreciated.

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