Relationship Helpers is all about helping people improve their relationships. Our definition of relationship is broad. It covers family, friends, co-workers—the people we interact with. Because of this, our “A Better New Year’s Resolution” series is about improving how we relate to people, rather than the tired, old New Years weight loss plan.
This is an eight-part series geared towards improving our inner qualities; the things that make us who we are as people. The quality of our lives tend to improve when we improve our relationships. Today’s episode on generosity is the fifth in our series, so be sure to check out our other episodes on “A Better New Year’s Resolution.”
Giving of Yourself
We have a tendency to think of generosity in financial terms, but it is not necessarily just about giving money. You can be generous with the time you give others.
Being “present” with others is a gift. Just think how distracted and scattered our culture has become. It has become increasingly difficult to “be in the moment” with someone without them being on their smartphone or being distracted because they are multi-tasking.
To boot, many people feel lonely and could benefit from some one-on-one time with a friend. If you are making yourself available to another person, it is an act of giving.
What the Bible Says…
For Christians the better way to give is to be filled by the Holy Spirit and then let God’s love flow through you. This means you are the person “bringing Jesus into the room.”
Paul says in Galatians 2: 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” You’re not only giving of yourself, but God is working through you. Your energy is not just coming from yourself, but from the source that is God.
Many people feel depleted, like they don’t have anything left to give. Vincent asks, “Are you allowing God to work through you? Are you being nourished by the Bread of Life?”
In Luke 11:3, Jesus prays “give us each day our daily bread,” and then in John [6:35] he says “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Getting Your Energy From Jesus
In essence, Jesus is asking you to get your spiritual energy from Him each day. Jesus’ spirit is “a deposit” that has been placed within us, as 2 Corinthians describes it.
Paul says in Ephesians 4: 22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” A great first start in following His lead is reading a daily devotional.
Not Holding Onto Bitterness & Resentment
You are not able to fully give of yourself if you hold bitterness and resentment in your heart. If we have hardened hearts, we are not able to empathize for others. For many of us this means working on forgiveness.
As therapists, we see how people get “stuck” often in denial and are unable to see how unforgiveness has created a wall that prevents them from being fully generous or empathetic. Or they may be “stuck” in not seeing how the anger that they hold towards someone is holding them back from good relationship.
Laura finds anger to be the emotion that most clients deny. So many people do not admit to anger or are afraid of it. This could be a cultural phenomenon.
Laura feels that many times men are allowed to be angry, but women aren’t. It is more culturally acceptable for men to be angry than women. It is a false belief. Many Christians fall into this fallacy too because they forget half of the verse that says “do not sin in your anger.” It DOES NOT say “do not get angry.”
When people deny anger, bitterness and resentment build. This often plays out as passive-aggressive behavior, stonewalling or as negative body language. Being passive-aggressive really is lying to other people. It is not being direct and honest.
Sacrificing Something That You Enjoy, Your Resources, Your Time, Your Knowledge
Being generous is a sacrifice. You could be selfishly using your resources for you and you only, but being generous means that you channel your resources towards others.
Consider being generous of your knowledge. Do you have an area of expertise? Someone may need to hear the wisdom you have to offer. By holding back, you are not being generous with the gift you have.
Amy Carmichael, missionary
Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India for 55 years without furlough, during the late 1800s. She left Ireland in her mid-twenties to live there where she rescued children who had become temple prostitutes.
Many of these children were orphans or they were from poor families who sold them into prostitution. The priests of these temples made money off of these children. This broke her heart.
Ms. Carmichael was unorthodox in that she did not return to Ireland to ask for money to help her cause. Instead, she believed God would provide.
She eventually became crippled, but was able to establish an orphanage that supported these children. Amy Carmichael said, ”It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire that He creates.” This is especially inspiring because she was a woman in the 1800s living in a country that opposed Christianity.
C.S. Lewis said…
C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” It’s not about having a pitiful attitude or a poor sense of self-worth. It’s knowing that you’re a conduit of Christ and living like it.
You can’t say you are worthless when you’re a child of God. You’re thinking less of your needs and wants and thinking more others’ needs.
Realizing How Much God Has Given You And That He Is The Rightful Owner
We need to live in constant awareness that what we are given is not the result of our own merit. God gifts us what we have. Material possessions are fleeting and do not have eternal value.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The wise man does not lay up treasure. The more he gives the more he has.” Jesus told us not to focus on the world, but to lay up our treasures in heaven. In Acts 20: 35, Jesus tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
These are great reminders to not be self-focused, but instead to let our generosity flow. We hope today that you feel encouraged to be more “present” with others, more generous with your wisdom, giving of your time, and more available to others.
You may have even identified some areas of resentment or bitterness that have been holding you back, as well. We also hope that you feel encouraged to use the gifts God has given you to help others.