Easter is almost here. Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and take time for personal reflection on how his love and truth is demonstrated in our lives. As we look at Jesus and the life he lived, we can find ourselves asking, Do our lives reflect His example?
The greatest example Jesus provides is that of generosity and sacrifice, of giving of one’s self to benefit others. We believe we serve a beneficent God—one who created us because he loves us and has made generous plans for our lives. Above all, his generosity is demonstrated by his giving His only son, Jesus, as a sacrifice in place of you and me.
The magnitude of this gift stimulates overwhelming gratitude in our hearts. Our appreciation is often shown through praise and worship, and even more, through embracing God’s generous nature in our own lives, through our own personal sacrifice. In other words, our gratitude is manifested when we ourselves give to others. We see examples of this heartfelt demonstration of gratitude playing out in countless lives.
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A few weeks ago, through an Uplift event on our Churchome Global app, we introduced our community to a woman who beautifully reflects generous sacrifice every day. A retired restaurant owner and chef, Ginger “Mama” Passarelli, founded the nonprofit The Soup Ladies. Mama and her team provide free homemade meals, love, and support to first responder teams in the midst of disasters. First responders can go hours, days, or even weeks without a hot meal under physically and emotionally trying circumstances, so The Soup Ladies passionately give of their time and culinary talents to make a difference for these heroes and heroines. Just last year, The Soup Ladies served nearly 15,000 meals on 42 missions. Their efforts of sacrificing for the benefit of those who are themselves sacrificing for the benefit of humanity beautifully reflects God’s generosity.
Mama is but one example of someone who shares God’s gifts with others through sacrifice. In communities around the world, there are individuals who are giving back; who are making a profound difference in the lives of their friends, neighbors, and others; and who are living out Jesus’s command to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Loving one another is one of the highest forms of worship we can practice every day.
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The ability to treat others as we would like to be treated, to give generously where we personally can, is something we all can do. God’s love knows no boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity, or financial status, and neither should our own generosity. Although we will never equal God’s highest sacrifice of his son, when we sacrifice our time, energy, and resources to benefit others, we are conducting ourselves as He intended and, by doing so, we are becoming closer to him. Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus, “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Beyond just charity’s spiritual benefits, there are also earthly ones. Indeed, numerous studies from such esteemed institutions as Harvard, University of Zurich, and University of California-Berkeley have clearly found the correlation between one’s generosity and one’s happiness. Other research has shown that we are actually wired to be generous. And Stony Brook University’s Dr. Stephen Post, who is credited with coining the phrase “giver’s glow,” has co-written with Jill Neimark, a best-selling book Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live A Longer, Happier, Healthier Life by the Simple Act of Giving, which wonderfully illustrates how volunteerism can transform individuals, communities, schools, companies, and more.
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Even the Bible, itself, foresaw the synergy between altruism and contentment; Corinthians teaches: “…whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
So this Easter, let’s take stock of our place in this world and reflect on the goodness of God that we see in our own lives. Where can we be generous in the way Jesus was generous? And then let’s demonstrate that generosity to others not just this season but throughout all our years.