When my son was about two, he had so many words that he could use to communicate, but whenever we’d have another toddler over to play, there seemed to be only one word in his vocabulary: “MINE!” Long-forgotten and discarded toys, picked up by another child, would get just one response: “MINE!”
Decades later, and we have a “toddler” dog. Our dog can’t speak, of course, but when other dogs come over to play, toys and bones are hidden and held onto, possessively, in almost comical ways: “MINE!”
All children (and probably dogs) go through this phase. It takes time to learn to loosen our grip. But with gentle guidance, with time, hopefully we all begin to grasp the concept that “MINE!” is no way to live—especially as a follower of Jesus.
Toddlers and puppies are kind of adorable and amusing when guarding and holding on to “their” things. Grown-ups? Not so much.
I don’t know about you, but I am drawn to people with open hands and hearts. Whether it’s a warm embrace or smile, a grace-filled meal, forgiveness, a listening ear, or an empty, waiting, welcoming seat, I love the opposite of “MINE!” I’m drawn to generosity just like I’m drawn to Christ. Generous people reveal Christ to me; they show me the way, His ways. I’m convinced that lots of life is unlearning our ways and re-learning God's ways. God's ways are always generous.
I love the passage from 2 Corinthians 8 that Todd shared in his talk on Sunday, February 5. (If you missed it, you can watch it HERE.) These Scriptures reveal early Christ followers who had almost nothing, yet were ABOUNDING in generosity because they were ABOUNDING in faith and love and hope. Read The Message version here, noting that the emphases are all mine:
Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.
I want to do my best in this, too. As my husband and I pray our way toward HOME, surrendering, listening, and obeying, we want to do so joyfully, generously. We don’t want to be holding back, screaming, “MINE! OURS!” We want to respond, in love, to the God who has loved us so well for so long—since time began, right?
One of the most generous people I know often says, “Good things are rarely easy things.” It’s true. And what Todd said is true, too: “It’s the difference between living in fear and living in faith.” Where do you want to live? Fear or faith? Faith isn’t easy. But it’s very, very good.
What moves you about these verses?
What does the word “generosity” stir up in you?
Where are you tempted to hold back?