We all want to live lives of radical, community-transforming generosity. Many of us think it’ll start when we hit some epiphany, have a life-changing event, or hear a thundering voice from heaven. But the good news is that generosity is something you can choose: it doesn’t have to wait. Ask God to show you his generosity, then find one person to target with it.
Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:
Draw a target (like a bullseye). At the centre, write ‘God’, then in each ring, working outwards, write who you have in your social circles, family, friends, and work networks. Who will you target with generosity?
If you’ve done today’s green challenge and want to go further – find a 40acts buddy. Someone to check in with over the next few weeks, both asking how your acts are going and if the other needs help.
Done both green and amber, and itching to get started with 40acts? Do something today for one of the people in your target.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
(1 John 4:7–8 NIV)
Your thought for today:
Throughout my childhood Lent was a season when I was supposed to sacrifice something I loved. I was told quite clearly that if it wasn’t special, if I didn’t love it, it wasn’t a sacrifice.
Chocolate, alcohol, TV, meat, coffee and social media are some of the more popular sacrifices that consistently rank high on the list during Lent today. As a child, I was conditioned to believe that in giving up that which I loved, I would draw closer to the Lord.
I don’t recall a single year when that worked.
I get the logic, but somewhere along the way Jesus dying on the cross and my giving up chocolate didn’t quite seem to be a fair exchange. That, I would learn later in life, was exactly the point. There could be no exchange, only a gift.
You see, it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I understood God loved me unconditionally. By responding to His unconditional expression of love for me on the cross it freed me from the impossible task of trying to earn that love through acts of sacrifice or service, and compels me to love others. Or, at least to try! It isn’t always easy, is it?
I recall being unable, subconsciously, to accept a compliment. Compliments can be amazingly uplifting, but for some, they can be deeply uncomfortable. Blanche, a woman instrumental to my becoming a Christian, once paid me a compliment, and I began to explain away why I didn’t deserve her attention. She was having none of it, and interrupted and flatly said, ‘No. Just say thank you.’ It may seem a small thing to many of you, but for me, it was utterly transforming.
It is the same when responding to the Lord. In the most extraordinary act of generosity the world will ever know, He offered His son, Jesus, as a gift to all. We need only say thank you. For some the response is too difficult; for others, too easy. But it’s a gift that requires no exchange.
40acts 2018 takes its inspiration from the book of James and the inextricable connection between faith and deeds. While it’s clear that we cannot earn our salvation or win God’s approval by our own actions, James sets out a framework for the kind of practical day-to-day living that springs from hearing God’s word, obeying it and acting on it.
So for the next 40 days will you join us as we sacrifice something we love? Our pride, privacy, time, reputation, treasure. Will you take a risk and be a radical expression of faith reaching out in love? Who can you target today?
Written by Michael O’Neill
Mike is Chief Executive of Stewardship. He is passionate about simple acts of generosity and encouraging others to develop a generous lifestyle. Mike is married to Donna and they have three young children.
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