You, the members of this church and many of our friends, have impressed me time and again with your generosity. When a need arises, this congregation gives and gives. Our deacons fund helps people in financial need with an amazing outpouring of support. Not only do you faithfully support the church budget, but time and again you have met the capital and mission needs of our church. When the pandemic struck, there was no way of knowing if the generous support of our ministry would continue. It has. Not only that, you have dramatically increased your giving to the needy hit hard by this crisis.
I have always been interested in etymology – the study of word origins and usages. For a belated Christmas gift I received a book with eight thousand word origins. One that was new to me and surprised me was the word “generosity.”
The root of the word means “of noble birth,” from the Latin generosus, and from the French genereux.
So the word “generous” implies nobility.
The word “nobility” brings to mind people of high rank. People of authority. People of old who lived in castles and mansions. People of wealth and privilege. A person of acknowledged preeminence in social or political standing. People who stood above and stood out, dukes and duchesses, lords and ladies, and the like..
So the word generous has roots in people of class.
What makes a person stand out? Is it high birth into a family? Is it wealth? Is it prestige? Is it power over others?
No, in its roots a noble is one who gives away, generously.
What distinguishes a person? From the Kingdom of God standpoint, it is not the random status of birth, it is what one does with one’s life, in particular, what one gives. Generosity distinguishes a person – and a church!
“It is more blessed to give than receive,” the Bible says (Acts 20:35). Jesus said, “give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk. 6:38 RSV) The Bible also says,
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9 RSV) And finally in the beloved verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave…”
So guess what? Guess where I work and serve? Because of your generosity it is my privilege to serve in the midst of the nobility. You of HRC at Millstone. True nobles in generosity!
Shall we join our hearts in prayer? “Almighty God, Jesus was the man of highest birth in human history, the very Son of God. Yet he did not grasp at that rank but emptied himself to the lowest rank. He is the standard of generosity. You are the standard of generosity who gave his Son to save us. When your Spirit moves our hearts to generosity, we mirror the nobility of our Lord. Thank you for the generosity of the people around us in our church. Inspire us always to be givers and hence to know that we are pleasing you. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.”