July 23, 2012

Generosity According to Joseph(s)

Opportunities to be generous are in the next pew.

No matter the size of your church, I’d be willing to assert that you worship with someone who could use a ride, a new coat, a bag of groceries. I’m not talking about that man on the corner asking for change, I’m talking about the “household of faith” whom God says we are to be generous toward. (Galatians 6:10)

The presence of people in need is an opportunity for the entire Body. Ministry families don’t have to shoulder all the needs themselves. But, in reality, ministry families often know about more needs than the average person in the pew. We get more chances to mirror the priceless gift that Christ gave us. And, for the recipient, we can set an example of a generous life.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says plainly, “God loves a cheerful giver.” My recent 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.

(A word about my hermeneutic: Biblical characters are not merely good examples These men and women have big purposes in God’s redemptive history. But they are also useful teachers about how God is often pleased to work in the lives of His children.)

This is not a thesis about how Christ’s community can most effectively address poverty. This is a confrontation of the excuses our own grudging hearts can throw in the way of the generous spirit that should be our default.

It’s Not My Fault.
Sometimes people are in need as a direct result of their own sin or the sins of family members. The children who have no school clothes because their dad is a deadbeat. The woman who needs a ride because she gave her car to her selfish adult child.

Faced with this kind of need, and to my shame, I can start to think like this: my husband works hard. Because someone else doesn’t, we are meeting our family’s needs and theirs, too. If everyone would just pull his own weight around here. . . .

And in chapter 45 of the book of Genesis, God has my rebuke.

You know the story: Joseph, son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his brothers. While in Egypt, he interprets a dream from the Lord warning him to prepare for a seven-year famine. Joseph wisely stores food and is therefore in a position to help his brothers when hunger drives them into his arms.

It’s telling that Pharaoh’s dream was given initially for the benefit of the people of Egypt, and God’s chosen ones were left in the dark. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the brothers’ sin caused their need.

But these brothers, who sold Joseph, who then didn’t receive wisdom from the Lord, who were in need---found generosity. Joseph fed them.

What do I learn from Joseph? Sin doesn’t necessarily disqualify people from my generosity. And, in fact, the Lord can use generosity to bring repentance.

Next week, I’ll address two further excuses and two more Josephs.

1 comment:

  1. This is especially thought-provoking since circumstances like Joseph faced do not produce such cheerful generosity in most people.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...