Generosity

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
19th August 2005

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Our Lord taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive. There are lots of reasons for this counter-intuitive statement.

The first and foremost reason is because God is gracious and generous. He is not stingy with his creativity. He has created a world that is overflowing with life and beauty. There is a seemingly prodigal abundance of life for us to enjoy in God's creation.

God's generous character is also seen in our salvation. We are not saved by our merit but by his grace—that is his generosity. We are forgiven, not because we deserve forgiveness but because he is merciful and forgiving. But this graciousness of God does not come cheaply to him. For in order to forgive us he generously gave his one and only son that through his death we may be forgiven. The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated his father's grace in seeing the way of equality with the father to be by giving not snatching.

He who was rich in splendour for our sake became poor. This is the grace of our Lord.

So we stand as Christians only by the grace of God. We preach a gospel of grace. And we are to live a life of grace. For if God has forgiven us so much at such a high price, how can we fail to forgive our neighbour the comparatively small offences that they have against us?

So Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek rather than to take offence—even when offence is meant. It is not for us to seek revenge and retribution at every turn. We are the forgiven people who need to treat others with the gracious kindness with which God has treated us.

And God generosity is also seen in the gifts that he has given to his people. These gifts have been given freely for the common good. We are not given gifts because we deserve them. We are not given gifts to find our self-fulfilment in them. We are given gifts so that we can be generous with them in our service of other people.

This seems strange to those outside of Christianity. They use the gifts that God has given them to make their livelihood or their fame and fortune. The development of their God given talents they use to find self-satisfaction. The public usage of their gifts is to find applause acceptance and adulation. But we know that the gifts that God has given to us he wants us to use generously for the benefits of others. So we do not act in order to be seen by others but in order to enrich others' lives. We are not seeking applause or recognition but rather the benefit of the people we serve.

The Cathedral congregations depend greatly on the many unsung and often unnoticed volunteers. From cleaning the furniture to collating the Courier, from singing in the choir to teaching the Sunday school, from counting the money to serving and providing morning tea, from leading a Bible Study group to ushering as a warden. There would be no way that the Cathedral could operate without the great and generous team of Christians. Those touched by the generosity of God and wishing to be like him generous with their resources—the resources that he so generously has bestowed upon us.

They are the ones who prove the truth of Jesus' statement: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

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