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Generosity

Generosity

We spent a few days this past week with family at a cottage on Lake of Bays outside of Huntsville. It’s probably not correct to consider it a cottage. A lake house is more correct as the home had 5 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large deck for eating and reading and steps down to a beautiful lake. (Pam wants me to add there were 45 steps down that seemed like more on the way back up.) 

Our son in law rented a boat and mentioned how easy it was to get lost in the numerous bays on the lake. That’s when I had one of those epiphany moments and offered up the awareness of “that’s why it’s called Lake of Bays.” The family all looked at me with concern. 

I can be slow on the uptake at times.

When I was out in the boat, it was impossible to not be impressed with the magnificent homes that have been built around the lake. Some of the boat houses at lake level were more impressive than some of our homes.

I’ll be honest, it’s easy for me to wonder if I had made other choices in my life, perhaps being a neurosurgeon, a lawyer or corporate executive that I too might have owned one of the palatial homes on the lake shore. Then I think of the blessing to be able to enjoy the experience if even for just a week or two. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone can spend time with family in such a beautiful place, enjoying a wonderful meal every night with birthday cake to celebrate our grandson Eli’s 13th birthday. (Those of you who know me know my love of birthday cake.)

But I digress.

Money is a wonderful thing. Having more than enough is a wonderful blessing. I wonder what happens when we have way more than enough, way more than we need.

In the news this week was the story of young Patrick Mahomes, NFL Quarterback who has just resigned a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to become the highest paid athlete in the sports world right now. Patrick led the Chiefs to a win in last year’s Super Bowl, the highest honour in professional football. I recall announcers saying that he wasn’t highly paid in comparison to other quarterbacks and would certainly be getting a raise before this next season. A raise is hardly the right word. His new 10-year contract could end up bringing him $503 million if all of the stars line up.

Whenever I hear of these almost obscene contracts, I wonder if the athletes who become the recipients of these awesome financial rewards will join the ranks of the great philanthropists. The folks who are able to give large sums of money to worthy causes. That amount of money can only buy so many things; but think of the joy and benefit that one might bring when those with the overflowing bank accounts begin to share the wealth with the less fortunate. 

I have no idea what Patrick’s plans are for his new-found wealth, but he could take lessons from other athletes such as swimming sensation Michael Phelps, fellow quarterback Russell Wilson, Serena Williams and Lebron James. They have all received accolades for their largess along with their sports celebrity. 

The interesting thing is that philanthropy is not a new concept. It’s founded on Biblical principles and it applies to all of us, yes even the rest of us who have yet to sign our $500 million contracts. 

The scriptures tell us that “reaping is reserved for the sowers.” You have probably heard this idea expressed as “you reap what you sow.” That message usually comes with heavy overtones of a negative nature that if you do something bad, something bad is coming back to you.

Jim Rohn, one of the world’s greatest teachers of how to live a successful life was the first one I heard rephrase the statementwithout that negative inference. Those who take the time to sow good seed in the ground are the ones who will reap a harvest. 

“Reaping is reserved for the sowers.”

In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 we hear the following.

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have determined inyour mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”

We’re all just custodians of the riches that this world can provide. All the blessings of this life originate in God’s abundance and when we become the people through whom these riches flow, Paul made the claim that God will provide enough to supply our generosity which implies enough for us to have enough for ourselves as well as enough to pass on to others, and there’s definitely a joy in that.

Do I wish College Ave had offered me a $500 million contract to stay around for another 10 years? Of course. But in their wisdom, they have chosen to not make that offer, at least not yet. 

Don’t wait for the big contract. It may not be in God’s plans, but it is in God’s plan for us to set the example of giving out of our abundance, because as the passage above infers, God is ultimately the one who provides the seeds that we are called to sow. 

One other mention of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He is also noted for the generosity of his “time”. He spends countless hours visiting patients in local hospitals. Reminds me that our abundance is not only money but may be our time as well. Perhaps we should understand that God has a call on our schedules. 

Jesus said that as His people there is reward in feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.

Matthew 25: 34-36.

So, it’s not all about money, it all comes down to generosity.

We are called to be people known for our generosity.

I trust it will be true of us.

Pastor Lloyd