Nurturing Generous Living

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Generosity is a matter of action, intentions and heart. One way to describe it is the grateful outpouring of gifts to others, out of our love for God. Outpouring is a terrific description, since the priceless treasure of the gospel (and all the gifts of covenant, relationship and life that go with it) comes from God and is meant to be poured out, through our living, upon others. St. Paul states this directly in 2 Corinthians 4:5-7, when he says, “We have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”

Whether for fancy purposes or everyday usage, the “unadorned pots of our daily lives” (as The Message puts it) highlight the fact that all of who we are and what we have comes from God and is to be used for God’s purposes. God can use our uniqueness, even our limitations, weaknesses and eccentricities, to communicate God’s powerful presence and love.

Generous living is not just about giving money, or even just about giving. It has to do with the whole of who we are and how we care for our neighbors (See Mark 12:28-31). Each of us brings our heart, mind, soul and strength. The Old Testament word for “heart” is literally the leaning or thrust of our lives. We might call it our lifestyle or nonverbal witness. In other words, it is how we steward 100 percent of our lives, not just the “religious” sector or the percentage we give away.

So how do we lead stewardship in our local church? By nurturing generous living in our personal lives and in our life together as part of our congregation and Christ’s interconnected, connectional Church.

Nurturing generous living in every aspect of our life together before God – now that’s great stewardship!

Your partner in ministry,
Betsy Schwarzentraub

Written 6/2010 for UMC General Board of Discipleship

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