By Duan Walker, Executive Director
It’s been an interesting couple weeks in Oregon (and other places in the United States). It feels like it’s been longer than a couple weeks since restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The guidance about how we are to slow the spread has seemed to change on an almost daily basis. There are messages of fear that are spoken loudly. All of this tends to undermine our sense of order and the feeling that we are in control of the world. So, what do we do? Do we hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, or is there something more?
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Part of navigating challenges in life is accepting the things we cannot change. We cannot control the restrictions we are given or how others will react. We ultimately cannot control whether we get sick or not. If we can accept these things, rather than fighting them, we can instead focus our energy and attention on what we can control.
As the coronavirus concern began to emerge in Oregon in particular, I began asking God what he was asking of me and Mid-Valley Fellowship in it. I wrote a bit about this in a recent communication via email. You can read that more in detail on our website: midvalleyfellowship.org/coronavirus. Related to MVF, it seemed clear that we were to continue fulfilling our mission to help individuals obtain sexual and relational wholeness. The methods may change, but the mission does not.
As I asked the same question (God, what are you asking of me?), I sensed him emphasizing generosity. If we focus on the uncertainty of the moment, generosity feels counterintuitive. The world says make sure you have what you need and don’t worry about others. Me and my family first. But God’s kingdom is different, often referred to as an upside down kingdom. We give as an expression of our trust in God’s provision for us.
In contemplating generosity, I went to 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. I encourage you to read both chapters, but I wanted to point out a few things that stood out to me.
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. (2 Corinthians 8:1-3)
Generosity is not just for times of abundance. Paul shares the example of believers in Macedonia who had troubles AND were generous. And even in their troubles they were filled with abundant (available in large quantities; plentiful) joy. They chose what their attitude would be, even in the midst of troubles, and we can too.
… Let the eagerness [to give] you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. (2 Corinthians 8:11-12) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
(2 Corinthians 9:7)
Our attitude matters. We are challenged to give with eagerness (enthusiasm) and cheerfully. Along with that, there is a reminder that we are to give related to what we have, not related to what we don’t have or what someone else is giving. Further, we are to decide with God how much to give, not because someone else pressured us to do so.
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop … And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
(2 Corinthians 9:6, 8)
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.
(2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
Giving generously produces generously. I must confess there are various interpretations about what is produced generously – whether that is financial blessing for the giver or something else. Perhaps it is that our gift can produce much more than we expect in the receiver of the gift. I know I have been immensely blessed when a random stranger buys my lunch in a drive thru. It was a small gift, given generously, and it reaped generously – causing me to feel appreciated, acknowledged, and blessed. That’s a much deeper return for a gift of a few dollars. Additionally, when we give generously, something is produced in us. There is a spiritual shift that allows us to continue being generous. Generosity produces generosity.
God is the provider. We are reminded that God is generous with us. He generously provides all we need. When we are generous, it is a step of faith, trusting that God will provide what we need. Our focus does not need to be exclusively on ourselves and our family but on how God is asking us to bless others as well.
And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving — the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11-12)
Giving and generosity do more than meet a need. Indeed, they do meet a need, and they also produce thankfulness to God from those whose need is met. As previously mentioned, acts of generosity cause a shift in us as well. It also gets our focus off of ourselves, what we need, want, or feel we are missing.
My encouragement and challenge to you in this season is to look for ways that you can be generous. It is as simple as giving a tip or paying for the next person in the drive thru. Perhaps it is an extra financial gift to your local church or non-profit. Maybe it is sharing extra supplies from your pantry with someone who needs something. Or you could offer time, interacting via phone or video chat with someone who feels isolated. There are many ways to be generous! In the midst of this current season where there is much we cannot control, choosing an attitude of generosity is something you can do.
We continue to serve those seeking sexual and relational wholeness! We are using some different connection and communication methods, but we are still fulfilling God’s calling for MVF.
You Are Invited to a Virtual Open House!
- Explore the MVF House
- Interact with the Staff
- Learn about the Ministry