Gladness and Generosity

Andrew Biggs

For September and October our Holy Habit is “Gladness and Generosity”. This might seem a strange thing to regard as a habit let alone a Holy Habit - so where does it come from and how do we develop such a habit, especially in these gloomy times?!

As with all 10 of our Holy Habits it comes from the passage of Acts in Chapter 2 42-47, where the early Christian community were exploring what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and to live as disciples committed to his teaching, now that he was no longer around in person to lead them. In verse 46 it describes how they did what they did in a spirit of “Gladness and Generosity” and so we get the holy habit of Gladness and Generosity. The two seem to go together. A generous, trusting and forgiving nature is often - but not necessarily, a cheerful one. But most of us feel better after an act of being generous to someone else. But the root of generous giving is cheerful thankfulness as we recognise what God has done for us and so we respond with Gladness and joy.

Gladness and generosity reminds us that we have so much to be Glad and grateful for because of God’s great love to us, his provision in creation, his continuing presence in our lives, his coming amongst us to save us from our selfish and sinful nature, his love and grace in Jesus Christ.

Because we recognise our thankfulness to God because of his generosity to us, so we recognise our call to be generous with all that we have been given. Grace is about generosity - giving where giving is undeserved - this is the heart of the gospel message.

The resources booklet says: “Gladness and Generosity is a joyous and challenging Holy Habit. Do enjoy its celebratory aspects and let them be a light to others. It is often in the darkest places that the light of Gladness or joy shines most brightly”.

We may find that this Holy Habit is more about our personal outlook and values than about activity (although someone did suggest standing outside church and smiling a lot!). What could we do to help us develop this habit? Some suggestions (there are more details in the booklet):

1. We can study the Psalms. Psalms are collections of songs and poems that reflect the whole range of human experience and this includes Gladness, Joyfulness, and Generosity. Take a look particularly at Psalms 42, 43, and 100 and discuss them with a friend - Are there times when we feel like the Psalmist? How can they help us express our doubts and despairing thought or tears? How might references to hope help us find a peaceful and assuring Gladness in times of difficulty?

2. Read Genesis 28:10-22. Think about how Jacob is feeling. God does not make him rich but assures him of his care. Jacob responds by promising to give 10% of his resources back to God. From this we get the idea of Tithing. Some churches ask people to commit to giving 10% of their income (but ‘resources’ are not just about money). How often do we review how much of our time, energy and money we are giving to God in various ways?

3. Keep a journal and each day write down something that you have been glad about (we will have a board in church for this purpose also)

4. Look for opportunities to carry out random acts of kindness: see https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

5. City of Sanctuary - could we express our generosity to those seeking safety and sanctuary by being part of the City of Sanctuary - www.cityofsanctuary.org or Places of Welcome - www.placesofwelcome.org

6. Come to our film night on October 19th and see the film Polyanna (cert U), about a long girl who moves to be with a rather bitter aunt.. She encourages the town to join in her ‘Glad game” and shows determination to to see the best in life. But is there another side to being “Pollyanna-ish” - come and join the discussion afterwards.

I hope that you enjoy exploring Gladness and Generosity.

Blessings

Andrew

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:39

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