We superficially assume that Paul’s command to be generous is meant only for those who have lots of money. No. Sadly, that misunderstanding causes lots of us to miss out on the terrific blessings of being generous.
Remember, these gifts listed in the middle of Romans 12 are gifts of God’s grace. God’s grace is the source of and the basis for these gifts. And it’s divine grace that guides us in the use of the gifts. A person gifted with generosity gives liberally not because he or she has tons of money, but because that individual has a grace-based understanding of possessions and their importance. His or her priorities are straight, in line with a gospel grasp of what our God has given to us.
And — this is just as important — let’s not limit this gift of generosity to our money and financial resources. Paul doesn’t; neither should we. The Scripture here is calling for an attitude of heart within the Christian community that says, “What’s mine is yours.” So many times your money is not the best thing you could give. More urgently, those in need could sometimes use your mechanical expertise or your plumbing skills or your time to just sit and listen.
Paul’s talking about an attitude. An open heart produces open checkbooks, open refrigerators, and open calendars.
One of the great joys of working at the church building during the summers is the invaluable interaction with all the kids. (There’s a reason I keep two jars of Jolly Ranchers in my office at all times, and it’s not so I can see more of Matthew or Greg.) At any given time on any given day during the summer, our work is likely to be interrupted by the sound of relay races around the concourse, Nerf rocket launchers down the hall, or some form of zombie tag in the chapel. Yesterday, I was the grateful recipient of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk delivered by a mess of middle schoolers. Today, I was ambushed in my office by a group of church ninjas who were not as sneaky as they wanted to be and a whole lot funnier than they intended.
Our Lord says the Kingdom of God belongs to people just like these little church ninjas. I know why. Who can resist? Their great joy. Their creativity. Their vulnerability. Their tremendous capacity to forgive and their eagerness to love. The carefree laughing. The unashamed singing and dancing. God has called all of us to be just like them minus, maybe, the t-shirts over the heads. Or maybe with the t-shirts over the heads; I need to give that more thought. Thank you, God, for surrounding me with these little reminders of what you want for all of us.