Feed on

In my journey to live more simply is a desire to be radically generous to the poor or to those in need.

I do not believe we can live a simplified life of faith without this foundation.  But man do I struggle with this.

So how do we exercise radical generosity with our resources, money, and everything we own materially?

One barrier that gets in the way for me is I think when I make a little more money, or when I get this month’s bills paid off, then I can be more generous to the poor.

Living with radical generosity seems difficult or impossible because we think of giving out of our abundance.  But this abundance never seems to be there.

Since I was a little boy, my father and mother taught me to tithe, that is, to give ten percent of everything I made away to others in need. This is a practice found in the Hebrew scriptures of the Bible.  I have tried to do this almost all of my life.  Usually, this has been a check written to support whatever church I attended.

I’m starting to doubt the value of “tithe thinking.” Mainly because it doesn’t go far enough. And besides, the tithe was never embraced by Jesus much to the surprise of many Christians.

Richard Foster points out that Jesus and all the writers of the New Testament radically criticized wealth because everything we have is a gift from God, and “everything we have is available to others when it is right and good.  This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity,” says Foster (Freedom of Simplicity, page 58).

One example of this was when Jesus watched the voluntary offerings by the people as they entered the temple.  He was moved the most by the sacrificial gift of the widow.  He said, “For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put everything she had, her whole living,” (Mark 12:44).

This radical generosity is based on trust that God will take care of our basic needs. This, of course, is foolishness to us and to almost everyone we know.  We will be the laughing stock of our friends.

But it is worth thinking about, meditating on, and taking steps towards this radical trust in God.

Oh my goodness, I have a long way to go in this area.  God help me to be more generous with all of the gifts you have given me.

How do you live in a radically generous way? Tell me your story below.

Who do you know who has has been radically generous to you? To others?  What have they done?  Please share in the comments section.

How can you and I be radically generous today? It begins with trust.  We cannot afford to wait.

6 Responses to “Radical Generosity — Day 10”

  1. jenny waltman says:

    Consider helping feed the hungry in Jefferson and Shelby county. Grace Klein Construction, Inc. coordinates routes every month to families in need of food. If you want more information on how to sponsor a food box go to Angel Food Ministries, http://www.angelfoodministries.com/.

    This is a wonderful way to feed the hungry in the United States. Their website shows us how to help in any community.

  2. Malcolm says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks so much for your suggestion of a practical way to be generous, a great beginning!

    How about other readers? How do you become radically generous in your community?

  3. Mary Ramsay says:

    Thank you for your reflection. I live from paycheck to paycheck, and have nothing for my old age—nothing in the bank, and I want to tell a story of radical generosity.

    My landlady informed me that I would have move out because she wanted to return to the apartment herself. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I mentioned my anxiety to my minister, who said “we won’t let you fall through the cracks.” She was about to be married, and she and her fiance were buying a new house. (They each owned one.)

    Her fiance offered to sell me his house for one hundred dollars down payment, and to hold the mortgage himself. I bought the house, something I could never have been able to do because I could not provide a down payment.

    Now I have the hope of some equity and the potential of being able to sell it when I am old. I am already 55, and I doubt I could have gotten a 30 year mortgage even if I had down payment money.
    I am so richly blessed, and it is through the great kindness of these two loving people!

  4. Malcolm says:

    Dear Mary,

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experience of receiving radical generosity! Your story is inspiring!


  5. Pam Moore says:

    Who do you know who has has been radically generous to you? 23 years ago I was a very acute IV meth addict living out side Atl. Ga.. I weighed 80pounds, smelled bad, looked bad and rarely bathed. I was also starving…literally. I would go to churches for help where they would make me humiliate myself for a few cans of vegetables. I went to a monastery to beg for food like I always did at the churches. The monks there grew their own food. They gave me fresh fish, vegetables, enough to fill a grocery shopping cart. They even gave me $10. They did not ask me if I was saved or make me read anything. But with all of that the most radically generous thing they gave me was hugs and unconditionally positive regard. When I was unlovable, they loved me, when I was in prison (mentally) they freed me.

  6. Malcolm says:

    Pam, your story is very powerful on many different levels. Thank you so much for sharing. I was very touched by the generosity of the monks and their hugs and love. If we could all only be like them in this world.

Leave a Reply