"But since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you - see that you also excel in this grace of giving"
(2 Corinthians 8:7).
A friend of mine's wife was once battling cancer and had chosen to take a more natural and holistic approach to treatment. Her therapies included vast amounts of juicing several times a day. My friend, who had taken time off from to take care of his wife, eventually had to go back to work. Immediately, there was a woman named Sally that stepped into the picture. Sally committed her time, her energy, and her heart to helping my friend's wife. Like clockwork, Sally would come over to the house, juice the fruits and vegetables, take her to the grocery store, and liberally give from the heart of love that God had given to her. Her compensation? Gratitude, and the refreshing satisfaction that generous living brings.
Paul's writing in this part of his letter epitomizes the very life of Jesus. Jesus lived to put others first. He modeled the virtue of showing love, selflessness, and generosity. Paul speaks of those who were facing their own seasons of struggle, yet were still passionate about being a part of blessing others. Paul challenges them in their commitment to excellence in all areas, including in the area of living a generous life.
The greatest temptation in life is to think, whether you'll admit to it or not, that the entire universe and all that it holds revolves around you. Perhaps you don't buy into that fully, but as you take an honest look back, you will find it easy to see all of the decisions that have been made that first revolved around you. Taking care of yourself is not wrong. However, resist the strong currents of popular culture to look out for only you. The life you have been given is a gift from God. How you choose to live it and share it is your gift back to God.
Purpose to make generosity a priority in your life. Be generous, not just in a financial sense, but in every way and with every part of who you are. Be generous with your words. Encourage someone. Let someone know that they matter, that you appreciate them, that you were thinking of them. Be generous with your time. Don't allow your "busy-ness" to rob you from the opportunity of showing up in the lives of those around. Choose to connect. Be generous with your money. Do something nice for someone. Do something anonymously nice for someone. Pay for someone's gas, someone's coffee, or pay for the meal for the people in the car behind you in the drive-through that you've frequented more than you probably should have. The point? Let generosity be one of the key identifiers of your life. Be generous as God has been generous to you.