Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to the wind: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) His point was that, just like the wind, you can’t physically see the Kingdom of God, but you can see its effects. You can see the marks of where it’s been. I believe generosity is one of the key marks of the Kingdom of God.
As Christians, we should be the most generous people on the planet.
As Americans, as a country, we probably are. I don’t have exact figures (or any figures) in front of me, but I know our government, which is becoming less and less Christian all the time, still gives away billions of dollars in foreign aid every year. America is one of the most, if not the most, generous countries on the planet. This is the mark of a country that was founded on Kingdom of God principles.
And it’s not just the government. Some of the most effective aid organizations in the world were founded by and are run by American private citizens. Crisis Response International (my personal favorite), Not for Sale, Mercy Ships, Goodwill, The United Way, just to name a few, are amazingly effective charitable organizations providing help across the world where it’s needed most. They provide dollars, medical supplies and services, food, rescue, and labor for rebuilding after disasters (not to mention the Gospel). They have their roots in the Kingdom of God and their generosity is making lasting impacts around the world.
That’s great, but what about the rest of us? Can we be generous right here at home, every day?
I think we can. For example, waiters and waitresses should be fighting to work Sunday afternoons, when the Christians come for lunch after church. We should be the biggest tippers on the planet. (If you’re in the restaurant industry, please leave a comment about whether this is so or not.) A standard tip is 18%. I tip at least 20%, honestly because the math is easier, not because I’m being generous. I compute 10% in my head by moving the bill’s decimal point, double it, and round up. I’m working on tipping 30%, because I want to be generous. It’s hard though, because it gets expensive. Generosity is sacrificial, that’s why it marks the presence of the Kingdom of God.
Janet and I recently experienced an amazing weekend of generosity. We went to a writer’s conference, Tribe Conference 2017, in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville, that exemplified this concept. Tribe Writers is a program founded and run by best-selling author Jeff Goins that teaches creatives how to get their message out there (and make a living at it) in this amazing new digital renaissance we’re living in. This was the first time Janet and I attended the annual conference.
What an amazing experience! I’ve been to lots of professional and personal conferences, and I can honestly say Tribe Conference 2017 was the most generous conference I have ever been to.
Every single speaker (and breakout session leader) gave away something of value. Not just run-of-the-will lead-magnets that you expect to give away, but premium products either free or at significant discounts. Some made exclusive content just for the conference attendees on hidden pages on their websites. Their generosity was really overwhelming.
Mr. Goins brought a young writer, Natalie Brenner, on the stage to tell the story of getting her book, This Undeserved Life, published. It’s her story about how God shows up in the middle of grief. Her book gives Christians permission to grieve, which is really important because unfortunately I know stories when the church has not.
The book just recently came out, and she’d sold a few hundred copies. Mr. Goins asked everyone there to buy her book, on the spot, which practically all of us did (Janet and I bought two). He doubled her book sales in 60 seconds, and put her on track to becoming a best-selling author. It was definitely a class act. He didn’t have to do that. She certainly didn’t expect it and was floored. It was a blessing to watch the effects of unexpected generosity.
(Yes, the link he gave us to buy the book was an affiliate link, meaning he got a small commission. But those proceeds were used to buy Natalie’s book for anyone in the room who couldn’t afford it, so he funneled it back into book sales for her.)
This was not a Christian conference. It was about writing, marketing, and platform building. But the generosity of the team, the speakers, Mr. Goins himself, and the attendees during the conference was unbelievable. Everyone, speakers and attendees, would stop to give you personal help on wherever you were stuck—the technology, the writing, whatever. Although not overtly Christian, it was obvious that many are Christians, because their generosity overflowed. The mark of the Kingdom of God.
Disclaimer: Janet and I are in the Tribe Writers Pro program, a mastermind group that has helped us significantly in building our platform. However, none of the links in this post are affiliate links. We’re getting no monetary value from telling you about Tribe 2017. It’s just our most recent example of seeing unexpected generosity in action. It was really an amazing experience seeing Kingdom of God principles play out in the marketplace.
The big take-away here is this. Their over-the-top generosity made us want to go again next year. We were proud to be part of such a giving community. Everyone wants to hang out with generous people. Generosity makes the gospel attractive. People may argue with your theology, but they can’t argue with the help or the undeserved kindness you’ve given them. It’s why Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Generosity is love with skin on it.
What about you? Have you benefitted from extreme generosity? Have you given it? How can we be generous in the everyday stuff? Tell us the story in the comments or shoot us an email. And please share on social media if you think this post would bless someone else.