By Cheryl Hansen
Generosity is a noun that is defined as a readiness or liberality in giving. Typically, generosity adds something of value to our character when we help someone else out. A lot of “feel good” emotions that give us the warm and fuzzy feelings are released when we surprise an unsuspecting person by paying for their drive-through order, for example. But if we are honest, isn’t it sometimes about how good the giver looks?
Christmas has become a selfish and extravagant spending holiday for most of the world. As a Christ follower, I have become convicted of falling into the stereotypical pattern of most others around me. I was no different. Christmas had become about indulgence and stuff.
When I stopped to really think about my motives, God revealed more about my heart. I had begun to regard the gifts that I received as a way to measure how much I was loved. And even more so, if I gave awesome gifts, then I really loved my family! There was no budget around spending at Christmas, only fear that I wouldn’t be noticed.
About 15 years ago, when both of my boys were adults and married, we all decided that shopping like crazy people was overrated, especially when the new little grandkids and Christmas should go together, not just a pile of presents. Instead of the stress of not knowing what other adult family members even liked, we started the tradition of donating to a charity in the other’s name and that eliminated shopping. These days, it’s an internet search and a donation button along with a printed copy of the organization’s mission. We all look forward to opening the envelope to see what worthy cause was chosen, always with consideration and meaning.
Over the years, The Friendship Home, Hope Venture, Fresh Start, City Impact and Celebrate Recovery received cash gifts in my honor to name a few. My boys know and share my story, and their gifts honored the healing journey that I have been on. On occasion, their gifts have gone to organizations that contribute to veterans and those with mental illness when they are remembering their dad.
In this season of Advent, what if it could be about turning our focus on the coming of our generous King? The wonder of His birth in such an extraordinary and unassuming entry truly points to God our Father’s generosity toward us. Am I living generously in this holiday season? What am I willing to forgo? Can my worship and intentionality reflect being generous rather than my own selfishness? Will you join me?
I truly want my compliment to be that someone else saw Jesus in me because of my generosity, not because of the gift I bought or received. And it starts by intentionally focusing on Him this Advent season!