We continued to look at what it means to live generously and two barriers that prevent us from doing so. If we find ourselves identifying with these barriers it's important to remember that they don't define who we are. Rather they are only indicators of what we believe about ourselves, reality and about God. Who we are is God's beloved child. In our truest self we are made in His image and therefore we already have all we need to live a generous life. The barriers merely get in the way of us living as our truest selves.
The first barrier is our belief in the lies that we need to "have more" or "be more" in order to be happy or content. It is the same lie that was introduced in the beginning (check out Genesis 3). It is the lie that says, "perhaps God does not love us and is withholding good from us." Once we start listening to that lie we start seeing life and all that we have and are from the view of scarcity vs. abundance. We tell ourselves, "perhaps our house is not big enough, our car not new enough, our food not tasty enough, our skills and talents not good enough, our job not fulfilling enough, our spouse or friends not good enough, our bank account not fat enough," etc. The lies seep into our minds and are constantly reinforced by our culture. Soon we blindly follow the masses, believing that we need to be or have more.
God, however, invites us to stop listening to the lies. He invites us to see a different view of reality, where all of life is a gift and He is anover-generous provider. It isn't a reality that is Pollyannish and denies hardship. But rather one that accepts that we don't understand it all and still trusts in God's love and provision. It is a reality that views self sacrifice and self-limiting as an invitation rather than a restriction. It is an invitation that once accepted and practiced (it takes time to recognize and stop believing old lies) leads to a free and generous life.
A second barrier to living a generous life is that of mixed motives and the need to control. Most of us struggle with comparing/labeling, control issues and bolstering our own ego/pride. All of these behaviors, if we pursue them, will prevent us from living a generous life. The belief that we (or "they") are not enough plays into these behaviors. In Luke 18 the tax collector went away "justified" (in right relationship with God and others) because he understood that everyone and everything was based in God's generosity and grace. The Pharisee, however, was so caught up in comparing, labeling, and his mixed motives related to his giving that he missed God and set himself apart from others. When we are in right relationship with God and others we are free to give and receivegenerously.
As we become honest about our beliefs, motives and our need to control we find a generous God inviting us into a new paradigm for relating to Him, ourselves and others. It is a paradigm that invites us to believe that in God we truly are and have enough. And therefore we are freed to live generous and contented lives.
By Babs May-Clark