By Todd McMichen
As families are spending more time together these days it causes me to dream about what massive discipleship steps we can help them take.
Several years ago The Barna Group conducted a research project on how each generation views generosity and there were a lot of differences.
However, one surprise fact that leaped off the screen was the discovery that kids raised in generous homes are very likely to live generously as adults.
Right now, COVID-19 is providing daily opportunities to live generously both inside and outside our homes. Additionally, the mission of the church must go on even during a crisis.
Our people are living the kingdom right where they are and this topic of living generously as a family is quite appropriate in our homes.
It’s actually a matter of both emotional and spiritual health. Several years ago a study was done entitled The Paradox of Generosity.
It found repeatedly that people who lived generous lives were healthier and happier than those who lived less generous lives.
Generous people grew more, had more fulfilling relationships, and lived with a greater sense of life purpose. Helping our families begin to look outward could be just the thing we all need.
Generous families are honored throughout Scripture. The Family Generosity study is actually built upon a Psalm. Notice how this one verse describes family generosity.
Speaking of the leader in the home, “He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing.” (Psalms 37:26, CSB)
Generous parents reap kids that are blessings to others. When you think about it, what an honor for our kids to bless others. The word blessing doesn’t simply mean to make someone feel good or encouraged which is important, but it speaks of the presence of God ministering to another person.
When we live generously as family members we are allowing God to work through us. We are bringing God’s presence to another. Let’s help families be blessings.
Then we can think about the Mary and Martha story. These sisters both lived generously one day, however in two very different ways.
Mary practiced generosity of presence. She sat to listen to Jesus. Just listening to someone in this season is really important.
Good listeners help people feel heard and valued. It relieves our stress. Job, for instance, could have used a powerful dose of generosity of presence from his friends.
Now Martha, her form of generosity was different. She was a doer, which ended up stressing her out. This is probably going to happen in homes a lot during these weeks. We are so grateful for doers and need to learn how to support them well.
Finally, let’s consider one of my favorite giving heroes in the Bible: the boy with the fishes and loaves. The need in the city that day seemed huge. The church leadership team, namely the disciples, couldn’t figure out how to resource it.
However, this little boy and Jesus had it all figured out. There actually ended up being far more than enough, which was a testament to the disciples because they each picked up a basket full of leftovers.
This crisis will definitely have moments that feel overwhelming. The need within our homes and communities could be massive.
This might lead us to look at our budgets becoming pessimistic, but the Jesus factor will need to be added to the equation. He promises that he already has it all figured out.
As soon as we can, we need to turn our families from potentially focusing on all the changes resulting from COVID-19 to living the simple message of generosity in our homes and through our homes.
The church isn’t gathered, but we have definitely scattered. Right now, your people have many opportunities to grow together while practicing spiritual disciplines. The discipline of generosity can soothe frayed nerves as well as extend the gospel in their neighborhoods.
TODD MCMICHEN (@ToddMcMichen) is Director of Generosity & Digital Giving at Lifeway and author of Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money.
Lifeway Generosity has produced a digital sermon and small group series called “Family Generosity.” You can find it at Lifeway.com/GenerosityResources. Here is a 50% off coupon code to help with your purchase during this generosity season: HALFOFFGENSTUDY.
You can find more information about our free digital giving resources, at LifewayGenerosity.com/coronavirus.