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Radical Generosity in a Sea of Stinginess

by Jason on March 2, 2011

I’ve talked a lot about generosity on this site.  It’s kind of a “pet” topic of mine simply because I believe it should be a hallmark trait of Christians around the globe.

I’m sure many of us would tend to think we are generous people.  After all, we tip 20% at restaurants, give money regularly to the church, and donate our old clothes to Gooodwill once a year.

But how many of us would label ourselves as being radically generous?

Unfortunately, we tend to navigate toward stinginess.  I know I need some work in this area, and I’m guessing you do too.

So let’s take a look at what radical generosity is, why we should be radically generous, and then a few ideas on how to become more radically generous.

What is Radical Generosity?

I would define radical generosity as sacrificial giving to meet the needs of others.

Notice the word sacrificial.  Most of us give something to church, or pull out a few coins or crumpled dollar bills when passing by the homeless – but how many of us actually sacrifice things we really want to give more to others.

Radical generosity then is proactively and purposely renouncing consumerism to create a better life for others.  It means we strive to live a life of simplicity.

Pastor J.R. Vassar describes simplicity as,

Simplicity is eliminating the things that stand in the way of the future your generosity could create. You can’t see it as going without – it is not negating; it is creating. Simplicity is cultivating a modest lifestyle – renouncing soft-living and self-absorption, and consumerism, so you have enough resources to contribute to the lives of others.

As Christians, we should be ready to renounce this world and its motivation for more possessions, power, and money and be ready and willing to embrace a simple, generous life.

Why Be Radically Generous?

But why?  Why should Christian eliminate consumerism and self-absorption as Vassar says?  What is our motivation in being radically generous?

Here’s a couple of reasons:

Because Jesus was radically generous

Christ is our greatest example of radical generosity.  God is in the business of changing hearts and lives so we can become more like his Son, Jesus Christ.

We need to look no further than the one we are to emulate.  This is how Paul describes what Christ did for us:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.  2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus gave up all the riches of heaven and became a lowly baby.  He took on human flesh and became poor.  Why?  So that by his poverty we might become rich!

Jesus gave up everything, even his own life, so that we might be reconciled to God.

Spiritual growth happens when we are radically generous

Pastor Tim Keller says, “There can be no significant spiritual growth unless you put your money and your attitude toward it into God’s hands.”

Unless we put our money into the hands of God through “eye-popping” generosity and becoming less stingy, we won’t experience deep spiritual growth.

Radical generosity is a loud proclamation of the Gospel

A radically generous lifestyle is so counter-cultural, especially in the West.  We love our excess don’t we?  But as Christians who long to see the world come to know our great Savior, we have a tremendous opportunity to broadcast this radically generous God  who loves us and redeemed us to the world.

As we encounter a God who is extreme in His generosity and let the gospel take root in our lives, we are freed to become poor and meet the needs of others.

Just like Christ who poured his own life out to help us, we now can pour out our own life through sacrificial giving to help others.

How Can We Become More Generous?

So how can we become more generous?  Here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Ask God to reveal where you’ve been excessive in your life.
  2. Turn away from your consumerism and develop a deeper love for Christ and the Gospel.
  3. Get yourself in position to become more radically generous by paying off credit card debt, or other liabilities.
  4. Develop a generous budget.

What are your thoughts?

  • Do you agree that Christians should be radically generous?
  • What have you done to become more radically generous?

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