An Introduction to Loving Generously
The first series we explored last year, Living Generously, challenged our comfortable Chrisitan notions of stewardship and generousity. Generosity is not only, or even primarily, about fiances. Jesus did not give a tithe for our salvation. He humbled himself and took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7)
In this series, Loving Generously, the Donovan family moves from transactional generosity to relational generosity. Their eagerness to give to the needy begins to break down the walls that separate the haves from the have nots.
God wants us to give our time, talents, and treasure for his kingdom. He also wants us to give ourselves to one another in love. Ture generosity compels us to reconciliation, as as we form friendships and community with the needy, we learn how to be generous in wiser and truer ways.
Please join us! All our welcome!
Loving Generously Week 1 Synopsis
The Story: BANQUET
This week we are reunited with the Donovan family as they continue to learn about generosity. Our story begins with Frank worrying over a banquet he is hosting to benefit the soup kitchen. We soon find out that this isn’t your traditional fundraiser. Re has encouraged Frank to invite not only benefactors but the people the kitchen serves. At the banquet, the two groups come together. Victoria, a donor, takes Cassie aside saying people feel ambushed by the newly invited guests. Many donors leave with her. They still offer their financial support but don’t want to know the people they are helping. But Victoria isn’t the only one unhappy. Chuck, a person from the kitchen, is upset and complains that there is no name card with his name. Frank responds by tearing up all of the place cards. The banquet ends with many empty tables. Re says, “Some people only want to sit at tables where every seat is reserved for people like themselves. If you want real community, you have to rip up the name cards and prepare to get your hands dirty.” Re’s words make Julia cry. She is a young woman, who confesses she hasn’t been a part of many communities. Recently she lost her apartment. Cassie insists Julia live in the Donovan’s guest house.
Later Re tells us that when he was homeless no table had his name on it. He had no community because people were uncomfortable with his need. Jesus said when you give a banquet, invite the poor. His words encourage us to spend more time seeking those we can be a benefit to instead of looking only for relationships that benefit us. Jesus humbled Himself, and we are to humble ourselves to be relationally generous by giving our relational capital to those who cannot repay us. The questions we are left with are, “Who are you inviting into your life? Are you including the lame and the blind?”
Reflection on Week 1:
• For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are begin saved it is the power of God. ~1Cor 1:18
• Generous love requires a love that comes to man only after a life transforming encounter with the Eternal Good Shepherd.
• List here opportunities to serve in your community:
• Pray for our missionaries—-list names, places, and specific missionaries
• The disciples asked Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
• Who can you invite to dinner this week?
Loving generously Week 2 synopsis
As we resume our story, Cassie shows Julia around their guest house. As they look around the house for furniture, they find many things the Donovan’s don’t use anymore. A watch winder is the picture of their un-necessary possessions. Cassie tells Julia that she often feels like their stuff owns them instead of them owning their stuff. Julia encourages them to have a yard sale. Many friends from the kitchen come to help the Donovan’s, and the neighbors are not pleased. A family comes by and refuses to let their daughter meet Julia. They leave making it clear to Cassie and Frank that they want to get together “when things aren’t as crazy for you guys.” After the sale is done, Frank decides to give the money they raised to help Julia pay a debt she has to a man she used to work for.
Later Re tells us the story of the rich young man, who came to Jesus looking for another rule. Jesus won’t give the man another rule. Instead Jesus invites the man to sell his possessions and give his wealth to the poor. The rich man had to surrender his love for the world so that he could love God fully, but the call of Christ was more than the rich man was willing to do. Things themselves are bad, but our love for things can be an idol that keeps us from loving the Giver of good gifts. Giving, sacrificing, even things at a yard sale can be turned into a sacred offering when we use them to help others as an expression of our love for God. And the questions we are left with are, “How can you simplify in order to give? What must you do in order to follow Jesus with your whole heart?”
Reflection on Week 2:
• The gospel changes not only our hearts, but all our relationships—with our work, with people with our families. How has the gospel changed your life?
• “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” St. Francis of Assisi
• Jesus tells the young man to sell all of his possessions. How would you respond to that command? What does the answer to the question reveal about your heart?
• How do Re’s words, “Everything in your life is either a tool or an idol,” make you feel.
Loving Generously Week 3 Synopsis
Frank and his friends cross the tracks to pay Julia’s debt to a man known as “G5”. When they try to give him the money, the police think they are soliciting and arrest them all. In the lights of the police car, Frank tries to explain the situation to the cops. While they wait for the police to call Cassie, the men wait in hand cuffs. “G5” blames them for getting arrested, and says that they are lucky because they have someone to call. Chuck agrees with “G5” and says that the worst thing about being poor is that it makes you invisible. When the police return, Frank’s story checks out. As “G5” is leaving, he forgives Julia’s debt and Thomas talks about marrying Julia.
Later, Re tells us about Proverbs 19:7 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord.” God puts Himself in the position of the debtor to pay the kindness we show to the poor. We have many opportunities for kindness when we tip some people and not others. We build walls as we deem some people worthy and others not. Most of us have someone to call if we are in need, but many people don’t have anyone to call. We can be someone’s “get out of jail free” card. And the question we are left with is, “To who can you show an unexpected kindness?”
Reflection on Week 3
• Today, open your eyes and look for an invisible person, someone you would normally walk past. Do something unexpected to bless them.
• It’s easy to look away when you see people who make you feel uncomfortable. Today, commit to looking everyone in the eyes and smiling at them.
• What does “poor” mean to you? How are you poor?
• What can you do to serve someone who is poor—either financially, spiritually, or emotionally?
Loving Generously Week 4 Synopsis
Preparations have begun for the wedding of Julia and Thomas. Victoria shows up to warn the Donovan’s that the homeowner’s association will call the police if they go forward with the wedding. Thomas hears their conversation through the window, and talks to Julia. At dinner that night, they try to postpone the wedding because they don’t want to ask Frank and Cassie to sacrifice their friends and relationships from the neighborhood. Frank says that, in the past, they have enjoyed good standing in the community but now they have to live their lives to honor God, not the homeowner’s association. Frank acknowledges that he doesn’t want to be hated, but he won’t compromise in his decision to love others. Cassie gives Julia a “1-2-A” plaque to put on the door to the guest house to symbolize their commitment to make it a place for anyone who might need it. “1-2-A” meaning “One to Another” referring to the verses: “be devoted one to another in love and “out do one another in showing honor,” as the group’s motto. The night ends with a toast to “outdoing one another in showing honor.”
Later Re tells that the Bible warns a lot about persecution. To be holy is to be different. When you give yourself wholly to the least, you may find yourself persecuted as a result. The fellowship of believers is captured in “1-2-A,” reminding us of both the cost and benefit of loving generously. And the questions we are left with are, “Is God calling you to step out in faith and show the world what love really looks like? If the world that hated Christ is fine with you, are you living your faith? ”
Reflections on Week 4
• Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ~Romans 12:10
• Jesus suffered persecution for loving the lowly and rejected. What does it mean if you never face persecution?
• Compassion at its root means “to suffer with..” Jesus suffered with us when He became a man. Who are you suffering with?
• Do you know your neighbors? It’s easy to live next to people and never really know them. How can you love your neighbors this week?
• What issues are across the railroad tracks? What social issues does your city need help addressing? What can you do?