4 Marks of a Generous Life

Of all people, shouldn’t followers of Jesus be known as generous? Sadly, that’s not always true. Opening the pages of the New Testament, you find descriptions of the earliest Christian communities as people overflowing with generosity. These early followers truly cared for one another. They bore one another’s burdens. They shared their material resources with one another. They lived in a radical way like family, because they were. And a watching world noticed. Many outside the community of faith stood in awe of God’s transforming power and decided to also follow Jesus Christ themselves. Christians are meant to be an extremely generous group of people. 

Here are four marks of a generous life:

1) Open Heart

An encounter with Jesus changes things. Changed behavior starts with a transformation deep within, a radical heart change that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. The message of the gospel is about how God the Father generously provided a way for us to be saved from our sins through the giving of his Son, Jesus Christ. We see a summary of God’s generous gift in John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” When a person opens their heart to receive God’s generosity in Jesus, they're empowered to respond to others with a generous heart. How frequently do you marvel at God’s generosity in the gospel?

2) Open Home

The first Christians shared life together. Their gatherings were characterized by “glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). They practiced hospitality (1 Peter 4:9) that flowed out of transparent, authentic and generous relationships. What it looks like to be a “hospitable” person is sometimes misunderstood. Hospitality involves using whatever space or opportunities you have to warmly welcome people with the love of Jesus. Hospitality doesn’t mean exclusive gatherings with “insiders” only. To be a hospitable person includes a life posture that welcomes “outsiders,” a person who welcomes strangers. The way you live your life says to people, “There’s room for you here. This is a place where you can belong.” How does God want you to grow as a person who welcomes others with a Christlike love? 

3) Open Hand

Living with an “open hand” involves being generous with your money and possessions. You find out very quickly where a person’s heart is by how they handle their material things. The gospel teaches us to hold your possessions loosely and give sacrificially. In true community people show they truly love one another! We again see this life pattern in the first Christians. Acts 2:44-45 summarizes community life: "And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” The book of Acts isn’t describing some ancient form of socialism. This community life is the result of transformed hearts. It’s a gospel miracle. What we do with our money and resources is a vital component of living as a disciple of Jesus. How do you want to live with a generous open hand this year?

4) Open to the Holy Spirit

When you strive to grow in generosity, you’ll quickly find that the opportunities outnumber your resources. There’s a constant stream of never-ending needs all around us. To decide where to give we need wisdom, direction and guidance. This is exactly where the Holy Spirit comes in. As we open ourselves up to God’s leading, his Spirit helps us to know what opportunities to say “yes” to and where to say “no.” Following Jesus involves living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit each day (Galatians 5:25). How is God’s Spirit urging you to show generosity?

A gospel-transformed life is a generous life. As you look toward this coming year, what roadblocks are preventing you from living the generous life God has called you to?

 

 

 

5 Questions Every Husband Should Be Asking Himself

This year my wife and I celebrated our 16-year anniversary. It’s been an incredible ride. The road has included five moves, two dogs, three academic degrees, four jobs, and two amazing children. When it comes to being a godly husband, I don't claim to be an expert, but my tires definitely have some wear. Over the years I’ve learned a lot, and still have much more to learn! Recently, I was reflecting upon the apostle Peter’s instructions to husbands in 1 Peter 3:7, where he says,

"Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

Peter’s admonitions are brief, but powerful and convicting. As I think about growing as a husband, I’ve been wrestling with five questions I believe every husband must be asking himself. 

1) Am I dwelling with my wife?

Marriage is the beginning of a new life together between a husband and wife. It’s much more significant than simply gaining a permanent roommate. Sure, you share the same space with your spouse, but you can share space without sharing lives. Marriage is a call to share life together, to dwell together. You dwell together physically, emotionally and spiritually. You share hopes, dreams, joys, struggles, disappointments and everything else the journey of life brings. 

In order to dwell with your wife, you have to be present. This means being physically present. If your busyness or personal pursuits are preventing you from investing time in the most important human relationship you have, then something has to go. Dwelling with your wife also includes being mentally present when you’re together. Focus upon her. Listen to her. Turn your phone off, if that’s what it takes. Be available in both body and mind.

2) Am I a student of my wife?

I’ve always valued being a “lifelong learner.” I’m curious about all types of things and I love gaining new knowledge. I love envisioning what the future could look like, and then establishing goals and strategies to get there. But, do I study my wife? Do I really know her deeply? Do you know what your bride is struggling with? What does she need most from you right now? Could you recount to someone how she has grown over the past year? Do you have a vision and strategy for how you want her to flourish as a woman of God? It doesn’t really matter if you like school or not, every husband needs to embrace his calling as a lifelong student of his wife. 

3) Am I adoring my wife?

Peter tells husbands to “show honor” to the most important woman in their life. This involves granting your wife the respect she is rightly due. Honoring her is more than mere appreciation or honorable mention. Your wife doesn’t just want to be thanked. She hungers to be adored by you. Platform her. Lift her up. Take action and show her how much she is valued by you. Work at this with time, energy and creativity. As you create an environment of adoration you will allow your wife to flourish.

4) Am I affirming my wife as a fellow heir in the gospel?

Leadership doesn’t mean the person you lead is of lesser worth. Good leaders seek to serve and elevate those around them. They want to do everything in their power to set others up for success. Leaders should never belittle those they lead. Husbands who are followers of Jesus need to lead like Jesus. Part of your sacrificial, servant leadership as a husband includes affirming your wife’s identity in Christ. Though you may have distinct roles as husband and wife, you are heirs together of the abundant riches found in the gospel. This world screams a thousand messages each day about what it means to be a woman. Remind your wife what it means to be a woman of God. Remind her who she is because of Jesus’ work on her behalf. Help her discern the truth from any lies she might believe about her identity. Affirm her in Jesus.

5) Am I praying for my wife?

The end of 1 Peter 3:7 includes a sober warning to husbands. The warning is to husbands who would neglect Peter's preceding instructions. They don’t strive to love their wives well, and maybe they don’t even care. Unrighteousness as a husband will actually cause your prayers before God to be hindered. That’s a terrifying thought. Neglecting my wife will create a barrier between God and I, built by my own hypocrisy. Notice, Peter’s warning assumes something basic. A godly husband is a praying husband. Let’s start there. Husbands need to come before God on behalf of their wives. One simple way I’ve learned to pray for my wife is to ask her, “What are a couple ways you’d like me to pray for you this week?” It’s a great encouragement to know someone is praying for you, especially your own husband.

The purpose of the five questions above is not to make husbands feel more defeated or inadequate. They’re intended to help us be more intentional as we take our God-given responsibility seriously. Without the acceptance and security available in the gospel, these questions will crush you. But through the grace and strength of God’s Spirit, we can grow as godly husbands. I encourage you to ask yourself these five questions on a regular basis, knowing that in Jesus you’ve been given the ability to become the husband God intends you to be and the husband your wife longs for.