"God wants you to be rich and happy.” It’s a palatable message that’s gotten a good deal of traction among some Christians today. Carefully selected Bible verses can serve as proof texts for this maxim. Famous preachers and popular radio personalities perpetuate this message to listening crowds. But hidden within that appealing idea is an insidious distortion: the “prosperity gospel” that reduces Jesus’ true message to a self-serving, suffering-free version of the American dream.
That, my friends, is simply not the Good News.
Yet I find that in my reaction against the false, “health and wealth” promises of the prosperity gospel, the pendulum can easily swing too far in the other direction. Unintentionally we can function out of what I might term “the scarcity gospel”—a mindset that expects little from God. While the prosperity gospel may picture God like a vending machine, spewing forth material blessings for the few especially faithful chosen ones, the scarcity gospel turns God into a scrooge—a cosmic miser who hardly ever doles out blessings.
This, too, is simply not the Good News.
Just as our understanding of God’s blessings must be informed by the whole witness of Scripture, we must also align the way we relate to God with his true character. We serve a generous God. Reflecting on his own testimony, Paul writes, “Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was!” (). And indeed we each “know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (), which is given to us in lavish abundance, not doled out in cheapskate fashion. From shelter to loved ones to food to laughter to freedom to our very breath, we know that truly “whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” ().
While we may suffer or experience need in this life, ultimately we abide in intimacy with God whose character is generosity itself. We serve and love a God who is more than enough. In this issue of Today’s Christian Woman we celebrate God’s generosity—and we consider the corollary of generosity he calls us to live out in our own everyday lives.
In “The Great Giver,” Carolyn Arends invites us to reflect on God’s generous nature. She calls us toward a deeper understanding of God’s lavish love and abundant grace. As we come to know our generous God better, we find our own character changed to reflect his.
Patricia Raybon explores what it looks like for us to embody generosity. Do we give freely and generously to those in need? What worries, fears, or self-centeredness may be preventing us from reflecting God’s character and instead living out a me-focused, miserly mindset? In “Unlocking the Secret of Generosity,” Patricia urges us to consider how we might give like God.
In a culture that is, indeed, driven by me-focused, miserly materialism, Joshua Becker has turned toward a countercultural M-word: minimalism. In “Generosity vs. the Gimmes,” Joshua and Margot Starbuck discuss what it can look like to intentionally live with less and how that can free us to give more. Joshua provides key parenting insights for how we can raise kids who are content with less and are generous toward the world around them.
God, as our parent, generously lavishes us with love—and we ought to do the same with our kids. But, Helen Coronato considers, is it possible to parent with “Too Much Love?” In her article, Helen explores the importance of intentionally and generously showering our kids with love while also not going to parenting extremes that can produce oversized egos and spoiled-brat entitlement. As moms, we can strive to reflect God’s love that is both wise and generous.
Generosity in our love isn’t critical just for our kids; our husbands need it too. It’s way too easy to become stingy with our love, especially in the bedroom. But in “How to Be a Generous Lover,” Dr. Juli Slattery urges married women to step away from a stingy mindset and determine to love with abundance.
While “God wants you to be rich and happy” may tickle our ears, God invites us into a more accurate and much deeper understanding of what his generosity is—and to let that understanding infuse and transform our lives. As Eugene Peterson reminds us in his rendering of Psalm 100:5, “God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever” (The Message). Amen and amen.
In gratitude to God,
More Than Enough
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