Categories: Rector's Corner

Why Generosity Matters

Sari Ateek
Sari Ateek, Rector

From the moment he began his public ministry, Jesus was in the business of making disciples (in Greek, mathetes, meaning one who is a devoted student and follower). By emulating and carrying out the instructions, convictions, and commandments of Jesus, these disciples were the agents by which he would accomplish the divine dream of transforming the world and inaugurating the Kingdom of God.

According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ rabbinical style of leadership and discipleship had less to do with transmitting situational rules and precepts (as the Law of Moses provided), and more to do with helping develop within his disciples an inward predisposition – or internal gauge – that would guide their outward actions and interactions. This inward predisposition begins to surface as a common theme in many of Jesus’ teachings, and can be identified as an attitude of radical generosity.

Here are some examples:

If someone takes your cloak, give him your tunic as well.
If someone strikes you on the right cheek, give him your left.
Give, and it will be given to you.
Be merciful as your father in heaven is merciful (i.e. give mercy).
Forgive as you have been forgiven (i.e. give forgiveness).
Be a servant (i.e. give of yourself in service to others).

These examples and so many more point to the fact that Jesus was constantly inviting his
disciples to consider how an attitude of abundance and giving might affect their surroundings.

Through a slow and steady process of shifting their internal paradigm, Jesus instills in his
disciples an attitude of radical generosity. For Jesus, radical generosity was the prophetic answer to most of the problems in this world. Why? Because the basic source of human conflict and human-inflicted suffering can be summarized in a single word: taking. Taking life; taking land; taking dignity; taking freedom; taking revenge; taking and stripping resources from the environment; taking (hoarding) money.

For Jesus, the only true and lasting antidote to the destructive patterns of a scarcity-minded, me-first world is the act of sharing. By practicing generosity with our money, time, compassion, forgiveness, we begin to see the world through a different lens – not one of scarcity, but one of abundance, and we begin to move away from being a part of the problem, to becoming a part of the solution.

By choosing to actively address the fear of not having enough through intentional and spiritual acts of sharing, we discover that not only are we participating in the transformation of our world, but also in the transformation and liberation of our own lives.

Grace and Peace,