Christmas was spent with some old friends of the Carswell family. The friendship goes back a couple of decades, and Jonathan has fond memories of summers spent as a teenager in their company. We were welcomed as if we were family, and it was wonderful. It was so wonderful that the boys didn’t want to leave, and Billy said to me this morning that he was ‘still sad’ that we were here rather than there.
Our hosts are faith-fuelled people who love Jesus. Their faith shapes everything from their conversation to their life decisions to their parenting and grand-parenting, and what they do with what God has given them. They are whole-hearted in their desire to live out their faith, and it is a beautiful thing to behold.
It was a privilege to spend a few days sharing life with godly people who are further on in the race. We talked, laughed, played games, did very little and enjoyed a break from our daily normalities. Giving and generosity are front and centre in their home. We were overwhelmed with their kindness to us, and so very thankful for thoughtful, lavish giving that made us feel loved but also clearly gave our host great joy.
This home (that we merrily invaded over Christmas) is distinctively threaded through with the conviction that everything they have is a gift from God. Knowing themselves to be recipients of abundant grace, they are eager to give with equal freedom and grace. They are, therefore, loose-handed with what they have, and so abundantly generous and looking for opportunities to give as God has given to them.
I was challenged. I sense that I’m more likely to tight-fistedly cling to what I have, rather than looking to bless others through loose-handed generosity. I’m eager to give as long as it’s not costly to myself, or my family. I want to be generous, but I also don’t want to lose out on that which gives me pleasure. I love to look out for others, maybe once I’ve served myself.
Challenged, and inspired. If I really do believe that God can be credited for everything I have, knowing that he provides all that I need, I can afford to be generous without bounds. Generous without worrying about my perceived securities, and whatever else I seek after.
But as I’m challenged, I’m also aware that such unbounded generosity comes only through God working in my heart. Our friends love Jesus. They pray for him to be at work in their lives, and in their hearts. And so rather than mustering up ‘generous’ strength and trying to be better, I’m reminded to pray that God would be at work in my heart so that I would freely give as the Lord himself gives.
As uncertainties continue and 2021 feels like an unknown quantity, I’m praying that my generosity would grow because it’s dependent on God’s grace rather than any circumstantial good fortune.