July 30, 2012

Generosity According to Joseph(s) Part 2

My meditations on cheerful giving brought me to the Biblical stories of three different Josephs: these men share the same name, each was extremely generous in a time of need, and each rebukes me for one of my excuses.

I began last week with Part 1. This week, I’ll deal with two further excuses and two more Josephs.

It’s Not My Responsibility.
We love to acknowledge the truth in the parable of the Samaritan. Those religious guys who saw someone in need and just walked on by? They are unquestionably the bad guys.

But when we walk down the road of ministry life and the sidewalk seems overpopulated by people in need, an excuse begins to seem reasonable: these people aren’t my problem. Or, at least, they aren’t all my problem.

That’s true. Somewhat.

Care for brothers and sisters is the responsibility of the entire church. (I asserted this in Part 1.) But it’s my heart attitude that bothers me: I’m looking for permission to start walking on the other side of the road.

Some needs just seem so far beyond the call of duty---fifteen miles away, in the pouring rain, five minutes after the kids have started their nap. And I don’t want to go.

A second Joseph, in Matthew 1, had a similar struggle. He wasn’t unkind, he didn’t want to cause his pregnant fiancĂ©e more trouble, but raising someone else’s child is a huge commitment, and they just weren’t his problem anymore.

Praise God for changing Joseph’s heart, and so fulfilling the prophecy concerning a Savior from David’s line!

In generosity of heart, Joseph assumed a responsibility not strictly his own. Can I do less?

It’s Not My Plan.
I have a freezer in my garage stocked with my homemade meals. It makes me feel better to have that dinner resource in case of unexpected events.

I’d guess many ministry wives are like this. We have helpers lined up for months in advance of surgery or childbirth. We are equipped with coupons and calculator for every trip to Walmart. We don’t fly by the seat of our pants. We’ve got a plan.

This is good. But it’s also a temptation to disparage the ones who haven’t planned quite as thoroughly. We are uncharitable in our attitude and think: You didn’t know that kids’ feet grow fast, taxes are due every April, and you need a vehicle to get to work? Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
There’s a Joseph for this excuse, too. His name was Joseph of Arimathea, and he was a generous follower of Jesus.

You see, Jesus had been telling people for years that he was going to die, and, the closer that day got, the more often He talked about it. But it seems from the Scriptures that none of Jesus’ family or friends was prepared. On a spiritual level, of course, they were crushed and confused. And, on a practical level, they had nowhere to put Jesus’ body.

Enter Joseph: a man with a plan. In Luke 23, he takes the initiative to ask Pilate for the body, then he offers his property as a burial place, and—with his own hands—wraps Jesus’ body and puts his Lord in the tomb.

This third Joseph is marked by well-organized generosity. When everyone else is scattered and conflicted, he takes charge and gives his resources without grumbling. Many of us have the gifts to do the same.

We can all think of excuses to avoid being generous. But, in the face of them, the Lord offers striking examples of His people who were extraordinarily cheerful givers. Their generosity is precious in God's sight.

Elisha’s prayer was that the Lord would grant him a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. When it comes to generosity, I’m asking for a heart-share in a trio of Josephs.

1 comment:

  1. People who look for a need and fill it are a good example to me. Much of the time, I have my head in the sand or am looking the other way. Actively looking for ways to help is a giant step beyond that. I want to strive for that.


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