My son said something that hurt my feelings. I can’t remember what he said (it was that minor), but I remember how I felt.
At that moment, the hurt side of my heart took over. I could have brushed off the comment, assumed the best or tried to understand. But no, I didn’t choose a loving approach. Instead, I decided to withdraw myself emotionally.
I expressed my displeasure with a frosty, rather than heated response. And instead of being emotionally generous, I became stingy.
Have you ever withdrawn the welcome mat and slammed the door emotionally?
That’s how I tend to respond when I’m hurt. It’s easy to justify that kind of response, I figure, because after all, Why should I open myself up for more hurt? But the Lord has been convicting me of my ungenerous heart.
As I’ve looked at myself a little more honestly, this stingy part of me has been there for years. I was able to put a name to it when my friend Nicki wrote about being emotionally generous. Many times I feel the opposite.
I find it hard to overlook an offense … or celebrate when someone gets what I secretly want … or be patient when I’m feeling stressed. Rather than being generous in my response, I can feel selfish.
But that’s not the woman I want to be. That’s not the mother, wife or friend God wants me to be.
Years ago, I met a woman who modeled generosity. I was a young mom and had just taken on the role of children’s ministry director at my small church. There was a larger church nearby, and I made an appointment with their children’s director, Jody. Jody took time out of her busy schedule to talk with me, and when I thanked her she responded: “Freely we have received, freely we give.”
I figured those words were in the Bible, and I found them later in Matthew 10:8b. In fact they were spoken by Jesus Himself as He sent the 12 disciples out to minister in His name. As Jesus gave instructions, He told them: “Freely you have received; freely give.”
Jesus was sending His disciples into territory where they would surely be rejected. He knew people would criticize them, possibly even persecute them. He wanted His beloved friends to remember how much they’d been given when faced with rejection, and to respond with love and generosity.
I need my heart to remember this truth the next time stinginess creeps in. God has given and forgiven me so much, so why would I ever keep His love, forgiveness and grace to myself?
And yet my stingy heart grasps at the idea that I deserve more.
But I already have everything I need! I have the unconditional love of my heavenly Father, and He has unlimited resources. I have unlimited acceptance, unlimited opportunity and unlimited provision. There’s no need to hold on tightly to anything.
I want to live generously! In every setting and circumstance.
So what does it look like to have a generous heart? It means extending grace and seeking to understand. It means letting go of expectations and initiating acceptance. It means letting the Holy Spirit do His job, and loving unconditionally — even when I wish someone had made a different choice.
That day with my son, I remembered these words of Jesus; I remembered my commitment to live generously. And before I could make a mess of things, I made amends. All praise to God.
This is a truth to live by: Freely I have received, freely I should give. It positions me to bless rather than grasp.
Lord, thank You for being so generous with me. I didn’t deserve Your forgiveness and yet You sent Your son to die for me. Help me live generously, forgive freely and love with abandon. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Deuteronomy 15:10, “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” (NIV)
Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (NIV)
Do you wish you had more time to give to those you love? If so, you’ll appreciate Glynnis Whitwer’s newest book, Doing Busy Better. In it she shares lessons learned in the chaos of busyness, and how to build true rest into your life.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you ever experience an ungrateful heart? If so, what circumstances prompt you to feel emotionally stingy?
What can you do this week to be emotionally generous with someone? Be specific and make a plan to live generously.
© 2017 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.