Godly Generosity | Family Devotional | Constant Source Weekly
This year we are publishing the main section of a current issue of Constant Source Weekly to our blog each month. Each blog entry will include the main commentary for that week’s issue, questions to help you reflect and internalize the lesson, and connection points to help you engage with your family in conversations about the things you are learning about God. It is our hope that this would be a year where more families around the world prioritize seeking Christ together and would exhibit His life and love to those around them. If you want to take a look at last month’s issue, check out our post entitled Reality Check.
Read Psalm 36:5-10
(Every Constant Source Weekly is inspired by four pieces of Scripture from all different parts of the Bible. One of those texts becomes the main foundation for the lesson and is interwoven throughout. Start by reading the text linked above.)
(Every Scripture reading is paired with a commentary section that explains the core themes of the passage, discusses the way the reading informs our faith, and helps interconnect all parts of the Bible. Read that next below.)
A quick survey of our Scripture passages from this week reveals that God is generous. More specifically, we see that our God loves to give gifts, all kinds of gifts. I think it is safe to say that generosity is a quintessential characteristic of God. Furthermore, this is a really important truth that should animate our perspective as we live our lives as Christians. But before we set any expectations, let’s take a look at the ways that the Bible depicts God’s generosity and discuss what it does and doesn’t mean for our lives.
Any of our readings could have been used as the key text for this week, but Psalm 36 provides a unique perspective on the character of God and the gifts we receive. Throughout verses 5-10, we see seven gifts named: steadfast love (vs. 5), faithfulness (v. 5), salvation (v. 6), refuge (v. 7), abundance (v. 8), delight (v. 8), and life (v. 9). While we have talked in depth about many of these in past issues of Constant Source Weekly, we haven’t necessarily always named them as gifts. In fact, most often when we talk about these truths we name them as characteristics of God, which they are. However, when we also name them as gifts, our understanding of who God is deepens.
Let’s talk about gifts for a moment. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words that are most commonly translated to “gift” in English: doron and charisma. Doron means to freely give something without payment. This is a gift like the presents you may have recently received over the holidays. Charisma, on the other hand, directly translates to a gift or favor bestowed. The English word for gift in this case is akin to talent or a skill that is given. You may have also noticed that this second Greek word is the etymological root of the word charisma in English. The important takeaway here is that both definitions of gift are present in the characteristics of God named in Psalm 36. For example, when we say that God gives us the gift of refuge, we are saying that God both gives us a safe place to shelter from life, like in the form of family or community. But we are also saying that God is intrinsically that shelter, which is alluded to in Psalm 36. God’s very characteristics or God’s way of being is a gift to God’s people. In other words, because generosity is central to who God is, every move that God makes is a gift.
Now that we’ve established that God gives great gifts and is generous, let’s consider what this does and doesn’t mean for us. First and foremost, it doesn’t mean that because we are followers of God that life will be simple or that we will acquire huge amounts of wealth. The myth that God’s generosity looks like material wealth is often referred to as the Prosperity Gospel. This teaching privileges individual relationships with God over the importance of God’s collective people, and it twists stories of God’s providence to exaggerate individual gain. Just to be clear, when we study the life of Christ, we never see Christ do anything for personal gain, but rather only for the benefit of the collective whole or for others. In other words, God’s generosity doesn’t always look like material prosperity, and when it does, it is rarely supposed to be used for selfish gain.
That being said, what this does mean is that God is generous with us, so that we can be generous with others. Discipleship, at its core, is all about learning from the example of the teacher and implementing Jesus’s practices and characteristics into our lives. When we look at the characteristics of God in Psalm 36, we see an example of gifts that we are to receive, embody, and pass on to others. In our other Scripture readings, we witness gifts that should influence our identity, are meant to be shared, and uniquely equip us to be generous with others.
As followers of God, we are called to be set apart and to emulate Christ. Being a people focused on generosity in the face of a culture that prizes individual achievement and accumulation of wealth is clearly counter-cultural. Let’s join in on God’s joy and embrace giving generously of the gifts that we have received.
(The reflection section provides prompts to help you think through what God is teaching you and how it applies to the world around you. Take 3-5 minutes to ponder and respond to each question below. We recommend keeping a journal to write in, so that you can revisit it later.)
Which gifts from God, from the list found in Psalm 36, have you experienced in the last year? Reflect on those experiences.
While it is God’s desire for each of our lives that we would prosper, prosperity rarely occurs in isolation. Reflect on the differences between personal wealth and the generosity that we see present throughout the Bible.
In what ways do you want to pursue generosity in throughout the rest of this year?
(This section provides tools and starting points to discuss what you’ve learned and processed through above with your family.)
Pray: “Lord God, thank you for being a God who loves to give gifts. Lord, may we know your generosity today, and may we be people who are known for our generosity towards others. Help us to give selflessly and joyously in the same way that Jesus did. Amen.”
Share: Talk to your kids about the ways you are processing through the difference between selfish and selfless gifts. Share with them what you have learned about Godly generosity.
Wonder: In our extra readings for this week, we talk about the way God’s generosity sometimes leads to a new name or a new start. Talk to your kids about the power of names. Remind them of the reasons you gave them the names you did and then ask them what other names they’ve been called. Good or bad, the names and titles we give to people influence the way they think about themselves. Take this opportunity to both affirm through naming them with a positive characteristic (bold, strong, smart, etc.) and remind them that calling people mean names is not appropriate.
Audio Option via the Constant Source Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/constant-source-podcast/id1470800487
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