Encouragement ExchangeHow could you give encouragement to someone today?
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Be generous (v.8).
Last year at Christmas, anonymous donors in several US cities surprised shoppers at a department store chain with generosity. In Omaha, Nebraska, manager Ted Straub recounted how many customers went to pick up their layaway items at the store, only to discover that a stranger had already paid for them. In Indianapolis, assistant manager Edna Deppe recalled how a father—in dirty clothes with three small kids in tow—went to the layaway desk to make a payment, hoping he could finish by Christmas. He was shocked to learn, however, that his entire purchase had been paid in full. Also, the same woman who covered the cost of his purchase had handed out $50 bills on her way out of the store—moments after she had paid the bill for a woman who had been preparing to pay for her purchases at checkout.
We all love stories of radical generosity. When we open the Bible, we discover that it’s full of these kinds of stories. Our God is generous to the core, and so God’s book and God’s people are immersed in generosity.
When God gave instructions for the way Israel was to order her life, generosity was front and center. God made His intentions clear: “There should be no poor among you” (Deuteronomy 15:4). He intended to “greatly bless” His people, and He wanted this blessing to be shared with all (vv.4,6).
Knowing the way humans operate and that inequalities were sure to take hold, however, God gave Israel detailed principles to encourage her people toward generosity. Once every 7 years, they were to “cancel the debts of everyone” (v.1). Instead of being tight-fisted, they were to lend the impoverished whatever they needed (v.8). In case this was still unclear, God said plainly, “Give generously to the poor” (v.10).
Whenever God’s people live God’s way, generosity abounds.
Read Isaiah 32:7. What does generosity require? Can it be simply on a whim? What things tempt you to not “stand firm in [your] generosity”? (v.8).
How have you received generosity from God, and from God through others? To whom may God be asking you to be generous? What will you do?
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