Contentment as a Key to Generosity
By PAUL DAMON
I believe that generosity is mostly a learned behavior. While it is true that it is one of the spiritual gifts, it is also something that we grow into overtime.
There are at least 3 characteristics that someone needs to have to be generous and live generously. These traits are fundamental to a heart for generosity.
Generosity is grounded in the past. It is critical to have a spirit of gratitude for all that God has done for us.
While it is easy to focus on what we don’t have, God wants us to be grateful for what we have—and be grateful to the one who has provided everything we have.
This is not just about material blessings. From the critical (our life) to the basic essentials (a meal when we are hungry), God has provided everything.
Are we living with gratitude every day?
In Phillipians 4:12, the Apostle Paul writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
When I first read that passage, I thought, “Great, he is going to give us the ‘secret’ to being content.” From a human perspective, I expected to find some of the usual responses to this challenge of contentment:
- Look at all that God has done for you!
- Look at what you have and think of all those who have less than you.
- Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t have.
While all of these responses can be helpful, they all rely on us – on controlling and monitoring our own attitudes. Now, attitude is important. But it is not enough.
Which brings us to the next verse: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13).
What? That’s it?? No pithy philosophy? No trite saying that I can hang my hat on? No deep spiritual insight to blow me away?
But as I think about it, I realize that this is a deep spiritual insight that blows me away! It is only through the power of God that I can be content with my current reality.
As I stood there in my basement in a shallow pool of water, that is exactly what I subconsciously realized. I couldn’t will myself to feel content. I couldn’t make myself feel grateful for the mess I had. But I could pray and ask God to give me a spirit of contentment and gratefulness.
That is a powerful lesson for me to learn and practice the rest of my days on this earth. It is only thru the power of God that I can do anything. And without Him, I can do nothing!
God bless you in your journey to be a good and faithful steward.