Grace, Gratitude and Generosity


The 3 Gs of Meekonomics

payitforward

Two events in the last week have reminded me of the importance of what I call the 3 Gs of Meekonomics. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the specific events. I’ll just say that in the first a colleague showed me extreme generosity in his work and attitude toward me, for which I am very grateful. In the second I was told that my own attitude of generosity through difficult circumstances has been an inspiration to others.

So I thought I’d take a few minutes this morning to talk about where, for me at least, all of this comes from and how it manifests itself.

1-     Grace

 

The older I get the more I realize that I deserve nothing. No amount of work, confession or penance can ever elevate me to a level of earning or entitlement that can change the fact I am broken and sinful. Financial Coach and Author Dave Ramsey almost always responds to the question; “How are you?” with the same answer, “I’m better than I deserve.” Ramsey says that this response is a conscious acknowledgement that he is a broken sinner who deserves nothing but death and an eternity separated from God. But it is by His grace that we get to go on living assured of salvation. I don’t completely agree with Ramsey’s theology on the matter but it’s still powerful stuff and I respect his conviction.

The apostle Paul wrote that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” [Romans 3:23], but he goes on to say that “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” [Romans 3:24].

Justified – FREELY!

From a more secular point of view Webster defines grace as “a special favor, disposition to or an act of kindness, courtesy or clemency”. However you look at it grace is unearned, undeserved and free.

2-     Gratitude

 

When a Meekonomist recognizes how powerful grace is and how much of it exists in the world the natural result is a feeling of gratitude.

I touch on this in my book “Meekonomics; How To Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy” in Chapter 2 when I talk about Greed and Lust. Gratitude I explain is the antidote for greed. Greed says; “I deserve this and am entitled to more!” Gratitude says; “Thank You, but it’s just so much!”

Melody Beattie, one of the pioneers of the self-help movement said it best in her book titled simply “Gratitude”;

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude looks back at grace and says “how can I repay you?” but soon realizes that any attempt at repayment for grace is inadequate and inappropriate. So what’s a truly grateful person to do?.

3-     Generosity

 

Quite simply, you can’t pay back grace so the only thing you can do is pay it forward. People who recognize the incredible amount of grace they have received and have a desire to show gratitude do it through generosity.

Jesus once noticed a poor woman paying her temple tax. It was a very meager amount by comparison to some of the sums other people were giving but when Jesus saw this He called everyone over and 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.” [Mark 12:43-44]

Generosity is not about the amount, it’s about the heart of gratitude and the proportion of resources. Even though the woman in this example was poor herself she understood grace and was grateful for what little she had so she gave it away for those who had even less.

When a truly grateful person says; “Thank you, but it’s just so much” they turn outward and extend grace to everyone within their reach. That is the definition of paying it forward.

The 2000 movie of the same name, staring Haley Joel Osment and Kevin Spacey popularized the notion of paying it forward and got it exactly right.  It’s not always about money but it is always self-sacrificial in some way.

In the final chapter of “Meekonomics” I talk about treasures. What are the treasures of heaven Jesus talks about in Matthew 6? It’s at this point in Jesus teaching that I believe the entire narrative of the Bible comes full circle. We start with God in direct relationship with Adam and Eve and through greed and lust we separate ourselves and live an alienated life. Jesus explains that all God has ever wanted are for each of us to maintain intimate relationships with Him and with one another. We can’t do that if we are caught up in our own drive for success and keep score with money. By recognizing our fallen nature, experiencing grace and responding with gratitude manifest as generosity, we can begin to get back to the garden and once again live in community with God and each other.

So there you have it; Grace, Gratitude and Generosity – How are you doing with the 3 Gs of Meekonomics?

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