Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, an international day created to promote charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. The Upstream Collective never set out a decade ago to be a business, but the reality is it takes resources to enable us to do what we do. Much of our ministry is made possible through the generosity of partners like you. Investing in Upstream means investing in churches and empowers us to together send and serve missionaries around the world.
During this season where pleas for donation abound, you would consider Upstream as you pray about how to give.
Everything we do at Upstream aims to be practical tools shaped and motivated by robust theology. Let’s ponder the generosity of God together as we enter into this Holiday season.
By Derick Sherfey, Upstream’s Director of Content Strategy
& Lead Pastor of The Oaks Church in Denver, Colorado.
Follow him on Twitter— @dsherfey1
“The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people.”
- AW Tozer
God is a generous God.
He’s not stingy. He “opens his hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.” He promises “no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” His posture is open, not closed. He is a good Father who “delights to give good gifts to His kids.” His generosity is defined out of the abundance of who He is, who supplies “all our need according to his riches in glory.” He love isn’t like our love. He ‘lavishes’ his love on us to the point that it’s almost too good to be true.
But it is true. He teaches us what this means in its fullest sense as we gaze at “God with skin on” in the person and teachings of Jesus, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be held onto, but emptied himself" by taking the form of a servant who would die for his enemies to make us his kids. He teaches us that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” and he embodied this in the way he lived, as Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve us.
God is rich in Himself, yet responds to our need with gracious generosity.
The Good News is beautiful, isn’t it?
I pray we can all slow down our pace during this holiday season to take a long, lingering look at Jesus. Many of our problems have as their root a problem of ‘seeing.’ We refuse (or have become too distracted) to see just how gorgeous God’s heart is, how perfect his ways, and how reasonable any sacrifice or obedience is in light of who he really is and what he has actually done, is doing, and will do. This new Kingdom reality we’ve been caught up into is the thing we’re all desiring and longing for. It’s coming, but in very real ways it’s already here if we just have eyes to see. But it’s hidden in places we may never look if not for the Spirit’s work in us.
We at Upstream are so grateful for our partners in ministry. We are praying this upcoming season of Advent we’re heading into would be a deep, meaningful one of renewal and a refreshing breath for all of us.
We’re also praying a fresh experience of the generosity of God towards us in the gospel would produce an open handedness in our lives where we acknowledge that every “good gift and perfect gift comes from above” — not just to organizations like Upstream, but as a way of life.
Paul understood this in his second letter to the church at Corinth when he links their generosity to the generosity of God. He exclaims, “thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” after he has reminded them that God does not need our generosity, but he does get glory from multiplying our little into more than we could ever comprehend.
The Generosity of God does not always change our circumstances, but it always changes us.
“…for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” 2 Corinthians 8:2
Severe Affliction + Extreme Poverty + Abundant Joy = Wealth of Generosity
Our Generosity is less about amounts and more about attitudes. It’s not merely a result of discipline for God as it is delight in God.
For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints…”
-2 Corinthians 8:3-4
“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For this ministry of service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Cor. 8:10-13)