Today (2/2) is my birthday. Yes, it’s Groundhog’s Day. No, I don’t like the movie.
As a child, I didn’t like the location of my birthday on the calendar. I never had a birthday party because snow was always a possibility. But as an adult, I like my close-to-the-new-year birthday. A birthday is a far more significant, more personal event than the arbitrary new year determined by Julius Caesar in bc45. IMO, it should be the first day of spring, a time of new life, green growth, Easter, etc. But alas, I don’t run the planet.
Resigned to leaving New Year’s Day in January, I use that month to reflect on the previous and coming years. Then I mark my personal new year on my birthday and work from there.
I’ve done #OneWord for more than ten years now, since before #hashtag was a thing. One of my first words was balance. Another was obedience. One of our most difficult years had the banner wait. I wrote about that recently. I can’t remember exactly which year, but I remember where I was and what was happening in my life at each of those times. Focusing on one word (or short phrase) has been significant for me.
This year, I knew my word needed to represent real character change, not just circumstantial change. When this word first came to mind, I pushed back. I insisted to God that I already practice this character trait, that we don’t have extra finances right now, and that my life is already very full. I proposed on top of it and simplify as reasonable, not-too-ambitious words for the new year. But this one concept continued to arise in conversations, reading, sermons—basically everywhere I looked or listened. I already know this word is going to stretch me in uncomfortable ways.
Also, I wanted a word I could examine all year, something with multiple dimensions and increasing depth. Because, let’s face it, most of us forget our #OneWord by mid-April. So you will be witness to my stretching and discomfort as I blog monthly about this topic.
Having submitted my will to God’s (which I should have done a couple of weeks ago!), I officially declare my #OneWord for 2018:
(Yes, I realize it’s in the title of this post. Give me space for a minor dramatic flair, please.) I went to Scripture, of course, and here’s the foundational result.
Generosity began in God’s heart.
God gave everything He had.
After God created the world, he gave the breath of life to Adam by breathing into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7). He then gave all the plants to Adam and the animals for food.
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” -Genesis 1:29-30
Every seed-bearing plant…and every tree that has fruit. God gave everything He had. He didn’t pick and choose some food for us, keeping the best for himself or holding some back for later. He only withheld that which would hurt us (the trees of life and knowledge of good & evil). He gave it all.
God gave the best of what He had.
We see God’s generosity again in the Incarnation. John summarizes it in that oft-quoted verse:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16
God didn’t send some random,
anonymous angel to die in
He gave his one and only Son. God gave the best of what He had. He didn’t send some random, anonymous angel to die in our place, like the red-shirted extras on old episodes of Star Trek, the ones you know are going to die as soon as you see them on the away team. No, He sent His “Number One.” (TNG fans will get that reference.)
God gives more than we can manage.
Money management, time management, social media management, relationship management…we try to regulate every aspect of our lives. We want to control and direct while God shows us that, if we’ll let go, He’ll supply plenty. No, not “plenty” but rather, abundantly.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” -Malachi 3:10
God doesn’t check the budget and
calculate the risk before He acts.
Throw open the floodgates. We’re talking a deluge here! Not a trickle, not even a stream, but a tidal wave of blessings. He has it available, ready to go, and He’s not being stingy. God doesn’t operate like we do. He doesn’t check the budget and calculate the risk before He acts generously. He gives out of His inexhaustible riches.
God gives more than we can comprehend.
With Christ in us, God sits ready to be phenomenally generous with His power, beyond anything we could even grasp in our wildest dreams!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. -Ephesians 3:20
More than all we ask or imagine. Put together every far-reaching possibility, every crazy-out-there idea, every straight-up miracle. That’s not even scratching the surface of what God is ready and willing to give His children!
While I’m comforted and encouraged by God’s generosity toward us, I’m also more than a little hesitant. God has set a high standard for us, and I find myself even now—at the beginning of the year—trying to make excuses or look for exceptions. For example, what does “everything” really mean? Am I supposed to give away my house? The answer is yes, in a way. We’ll dig into these issues more as the year progresses.
What about you? What aspect of God’s generosity most challenges you? Or if you’d rather, let me know how God is already using your One Word to challenge and grow you. Let’s encourage each other in the comments below!