Generosity - A Legacy

What comes to mind when you hear the word “legacy”? Values or goals that someone leaves behind when he or she is gone? Yes. A legacy could also be the memory others have of us: everything we do, say, think, or have. So, when you leave this world, what will your legacy be? Randy Alcorn, a renowned writer, asked a thought-provoking question: “When you leave this world, will you be known as one who accumulated treasures on earth that you could not keep? Or will you be recognized as one who invested your treasures in heaven that you could not lose?”[*]

The Old Testament has a sea of people who have left good and bad legacies. We know the story of Job. He had a legacy of faithfulness and perseverance. David was a man after God’s own heart. He was sincere in his repentance and worshiped the Lord with his whole heart. The churches of the New Testament also left us a great legacy. For example, Paul commends the Macedonian church for their legacy of generosity.

He says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us” (2 Cor. 8:3-5, NIV).

Not only did the Macedonians give joyfully and generously despite being poor, they did not use their poverty as an excuse not to give. They gave willingly as much as they were able, beyond what was expected of them. They gave to support the work of the Lord. They were determined to help meet the needs of others. They insisted that Paul receive their contribution and pass it on to the poor and needy brethren and sisters in Jerusalem. They were sincere and had a genuine concern for their fellow believers. What’s most important is that they first gave of themselves to the Lord. Unless we are totally surrendered to the Lord, we cannot give generously without expecting something in return.

This kind of generosity is like that of the widow who by giving her two mites did more than the rich men who gave out of their abundance. Jesus recognized her gift in Mark 12:43, 44: Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’”

In Acts 9:36-42, we’re told of the story of Tabitha, a disciple who was brought back to life by Peter. Tabitha, or Dorcas, was much loved by her community in Joppa. She spent her time doing good and helping the poor (Acts 9:36). When she died, the disciples in Joppa urged Peter to “‘please come at once!’” (v. 38). They mourned her loss and could not imagine going on without her. Tabitha was a true witness. Her generosity and service to her community was her legacy.

What is your legacy? Can the Lord boast about you like He did with Job? Can He boast about you like Paul boasted about the Macedonians? Can Jesus praise your giving habit? Would your community boast about your desire to help others like people boasted about Tabitha? We serve a generous God who was willing to give His all so that humans can have eternal life. He gave His ONLY SON so that all who believe will have eternal life. While we, made in God’s image, cannot out-give Him, what are we willing to give so that others who don’t know God can enjoy eternal life? May the Lord help us to live a generous life and give toward finishing the gospel work.

Johnetta B. Flomo