Sue, a retired missionary who served many years in Haiti, now regularly volunteers her time to serve as the nurse for holiness camp meetings.
On the last day of a camp meeting in Alabama she stumbled and fell while walking on uneven ground and broke a major bone in her left foot. After the foot and lower leg were placed in a heavy cast, she faced a tough decision. Would she ask someone to drive her to her home in Florida or would she, broken foot and all, drive her aging motor home to the camp meeting in Georgia where she had committed to serve as the nurse for 140 children and teenagers?
After a time of prayer, Sue concluded that she should try to drive to the next camp that was scheduled to begin just three days later. Using her crutches to help lift herself, she sat in the doorway of her RV and climbed backwards up the steps and into the driver's seat.
At the camp meeting in Georgia, she set up the nurse's station in her RV and served the medical needs of children, teens, and adults over the next ten days. A local business man donated the use of his golf cart for Sue to get around the grounds when necessary and to make her way to meals and preaching services. Dozens of people wrote notes of love and appreciation on her cast.
On her way to her next camp meeting, she stopped to visit with a couple of Haitians who now live in the United States. Years before, she had ministered to them in Haiti. Sue, though living on a limited income and a tight budget, decided to take her Haitian friends out for lunch. As Sue and her friends visited over lunch, a lady seated nearby in the restaurant overheard Sue talking about her fall, the broken foot, and her ministry at camp meetings.
As the woman left the restaurant, she stopped at Sue's table, placed $50 on the table, and said, "The Lord wants me to pay for your lunch." Sue replied that the lunch would cost far less than $50. The woman said, "You will need the remainder of the money today" and quickly walked away.
Sue paid $28 for lunch and tucked the remaining $22 in a corner of her purse. When she approached her RV, she noticed one tire was very low. Driving only a block to a service station, she asked the attendant to check the tire. When he attempted to inflate the tire, he discovered a damaged valve stem. After replacing the stem and checking all her tires, he handed her a bill for $22!
The story above is saturated with generosity.
What is generosity?
At its core, generosity is a lifestyle in which we share all we are and all we possess as an example of God's love and a response to his amazing grace. Many churches talk about generosity, and many Christians say they are committed to be generous. However, generosity becomes a powerful witness only through our actions when we share with others what we've been given for the advancement of God's kingdom and for his glory.
Generosity flows from a biblical understanding of stewardship. God is the owner of everything. Everything we have is a gift from God. God-given resources are to be wisely and generously invested in His kingdom.
When we understand the free gift of the grace of God in our lives, our faith is shaped by a conviction that all that we have—time, talent, influence, relationships, testimony, and finances—has been given to us for a purpose. We simply cannot separate God's grace from the practice of generosity in loving concern for others and the completion of God's Great Commission mandate.
God gave first! Now, we give! We now reflect the generous giving nature of the One who first gave himself for us.
Generosity is not about keeping rules and meeting obligations. Generosity, based upon biblical stewardship, flows lovingly and joyfully from hearts transformed by God's grace. Grace-filled hearts embrace opportunities to make a difference of eternal significance. When generosity is unleashed and unlimited in the life of a believer or a local church, joy abounds and the kingdom of God is advanced!
Reflections on Generosity
- God generously gave his people the gift of creation (Genesis 1:28).
- God generously gave his son for our salvation (John 3:16).
- Generosity is using our resources to reach beyond ourselves, ignoring what some might think is in our best interest to do what is in the best interest of others.
- Generosity doesn't wait until we have assurance our gift will be appreciated by others (Romans 5:8).
- Generosity doesn't wait until we have assurance our gift will be used wisely (there is a time and place for accountability, but the uncertainty of accountability should never be used as an excuse to limit generosity).
Doug Carter is a Nazarene elder and founder of RMTM Strategies LLC.
Holiness Today, Sept/Oct 2012
Please note: This article was originally published in 2012. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.