We have become so selfish, we can’t even give without getting something in return.
A recent Forbes article observed how more and more people prefer to make donations by making purchases from companies that give back.
Gone are the days when people find a good cause, cut a check, and regularly donate.
Now we prefer to buy a pair of Toms shoes and feel good about ourselves because Toms promises to donate a pair of shoes for every pair we buy.
This form of donation is called “self-directed giving” and it has become the new norm for generous giving.
Selfishness has permeated our culture to the point that we don’t like to give unless there’s something in it for us.
Our philanthropy is marked by selfishness and so is every other aspect of our lives.
We’re selfish with our money.
We’re selfish with our time.
We’re selfish in relationships.
We’re constantly looking out for #1, and it doesn’t look like we’re stopping anytime soon.
While this isn’t good news for a society, there is a silver lining. It is exactly when society is most selfish that Christ’s selfless love shines brightest.
Christians have a real opportunity to stand out.
Our selfless savior lived a life marked with sacrifice. By following his example, we can live in a radically different way than the world around us.
The time is ripe to make a real difference. It’s time to start standing out. It’s time to start showing the world the selfless love of Christ.
You and I can start today by becoming truly generous people. When the world chooses to take for themselves, we need to give and give and then give some more.
We need to be the opposite of selfish. We need to be generous. Here are 5 ways we can start.
1) Be Generous with time
People feel like they are busier than ever, and most probably are.
You see, the most valuable commodity any person possess is not money, but time.
So give time.
Rather than blow people off, take the time to actually talk to them. Take the time to be a friend, hang out, and stay connected. You don’t have to do anything fancy. By being generous with your time, you can make a real difference in someone’s life.
2) Be Generous with space
A couple years ago, my wife and I noticed how rarely we invited people over.
Having visitors is hard. It usually involves a fair amount of cleaning, and who wants to do that?
It’s far easier plop down on the recliner and binge watch some Netflix.
We finally decided to make a change and made it our goal to have people over at least once a week. This has led to many new relationships, ministry opportunities, and lots of fun.
When we stopped being selfish with our space and opened up our home, we found that our hearts have opened as well.
3) Be Generous with sympathy and emotion
“I can’t take anymore drama!”
It can be easy to feel annoyed at someone else’s problems. We think, “I have enough of my own problems, I don’t have time for anyone else’s.”
But this is exactly the problem: we all have problems.
Even when our emotional tanks feel empty, it’s important that we take the time to listen when others are sharing their struggles and problems with us. They probably aren’t expecting us to solve all their problems, but even just listening helps.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Stretch your emotions outside of yourself. It can be uncomfortable at first, but when we care for others we fulfill God’s calling for our lives.
4) Be Generous with physical strength
A friend once admitted to me that he actually hated volunteering in any capacity. “I’d rather write a check” he said.
I can often feel the same way.
But through the years, I’ve seen people impacted by Christians doing things like raking leaves for the elderly, helping the young couple with no friends or family in the area move into their new home, and helping donation centers transport furniture and appliances.
When Jesus washed the Apostle’s feet, he showed his humility and love by getting his hands dirty. Christians too, should be ready to get their hands dirty for others.
5) Be Generous with Money
Let me be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with “self-directed giving”. If you want to buy Haitian coffee and support missions at the same time, more power to you. But give far beyond that.
I once met a successful Christian businessman who gave 30% of his income, which amounted to millions, to church and charity.
I’ve also met people solidly in the middle class who gave away 25% or more of their income.
There will always be more things that we think we “need” but I try to keep in mind that even though I’m in the “poverty” level in America, I’m still exceedingly wealthy by international standards. Even if I don't feel like I have much, I still have plenty to make a real difference.
What we do with our money says a lot about our hearts. When we are generous with our money, we can truly say that Jesus means more to us than anything.
Without a doubt, a Christian who practices these 5 simple ways of being generous will make a difference. It will benefit families, friends, and neighbors. It will bless churches, jobs, and communities. And most importantly it will show how awesome the selfless love of Jesus really is.
Be generous my friends.
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Tim is the senior editor for the ABC Voices blog. He also writes for Apologetics315 where he is a team leader. He is the chapter director of Ratio Christi, an apologetics ministry, at Grand Valley State University and has a BA in Worldviews and Apologetics from Boyce College. Tim, his wife Alexandra, and children MaryKate and Oliver attend Allendale Baptist Church where Tim also works as an administrative assistant. Anyone who meets Tim easily remembers him as the tallest Filipino they've ever met.