5-52 Voices February 4, 2014
The C3 Leaders devotion is a peer-to-peer weekly reflection from business leaders related to their journey with Christ. Each weekly devotion will be written by a different author from among the C3 Leaders community, 52 unique authors to be exact.
As we go through this next year together, we pray that these words and reflections will encourage you in your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Craig Chapman, Co-Founder and Former CTO, INRIX Corporation
Generosity is a passion for April and me – and not just in the form of monetary giving, but in giving our whole “LIFE” – labor, influence, finances and expertise. Matthew 20:16 is a great explanation of our salvation as a gift of God’s generosity. But it seems like it also provides a blueprint for our own generosity, so allow me to draw some principles that might help us in considering generosity from the model presented by God:
- Principle: Don’t place conditions on your generosity. Note that the landowner doesn’t place any timing conditions on the men who come to work for him; i.e. no matter when they showed up, they still received the same reward. In the same way, we should not put our conditions on our generosity. God expects us to unconditionally give generously to our local church, to unconditionally serve as part of the body, and to unconditionally love (and serve) our neighbors.
- Principle: Your generosity might not make sense to others, but it only has to make sense to God. Jesus says that the workers hired first, upon learning that those hired last received the same wage that they did, “began to grumble against the landowner”. We must realize that there may be those that don’t agree with your generosity – there may be jealousy or envy or even condemnation – but it doesn’t matter what these others think. What matters is our motivation – i.e. loving God through serving others – and so we need to follow God’s example of generosity regardless of what others think.
- Principle: The recipient of your generosity may not deserve it. In the case of the “latecomers” in this parable, it’s not clear why there were not hired previously. When asked why they were “just standing around”, their reply was “because no one has hired us “. Was this because they were lazy and not really pursuing work? Or was it because they were physically undesirable in terms of the work that the landowner needed. Either way, you can argue that they didn’t deserve the generosity of the landowner. Yet he is just as generous to them as he was to the others. In the same way, it’s clear that none of us are deserving of God’s generosity, but He doesn’t withhold it from us – and if we are to model God, we should have the same approach to our own generosity.
- Principle: Don’t expect to be showered with gratitude as a result of your generosity. Note that the only response from the workers that we hear about in this parable is that the early workers complained – it doesn’t say anything about comments from the later workers to whom the landowner was so generous. Were they grateful? Does it matter? When we are generous, do we expect gratitude? We shouldn’t – but we should encourage the receiver to be thankful for all that God has provided for them – most importantly, salvation.
- Principle: Give freely and joyfully, not under compulsion. The landowner didn’t have to pay the latecomers the same amount. In fact, if would have been entirely “fair” to pay the workers an hourly rate, and of course those who started earlier (and thus worked longer) would have made more money. However, the landowner chose to pay everyone the same just because he wanted to be generous. We should treat our giving the same way – we’re not being generous if we are giving only because we have to or are expected to.
So what does this have to do with our mission of “Leaders encouraging leaders to live and lead like Jesus“? Plenty! Generosity is defined in Wikipedia as “the habit of giving without expecting anything in return. It’s through Kingdom generosity that we demonstrate that our hearts of focused on God, it’s through generosity to others that we show the world that we are different. And when the world sees that we are different – with hearts that are generous and focused on serving others – they will be attracted to Christ. As leaders, it’s up to us to set the example and teach the lesson of generosity – giving liberally from our whole LIFE – labor, influence, finances and expertise.
You can contact Craig at: firstname.lastname@example.org