MODULE 6: GENEROSITY
OUTCOME: Module 3 discussed living selflessly. Before we can live out justice and mercy, we must get over ourselves! Now, Module 6 pushes it a bit further: A selfless disciple embodies generosity. We deny ourselves so we may give ourselves away to bring God’s Kingdom closer to this earth.
Many people are held in the grip of their possessions, time, talent, and finances—even if they have very little compared to others. But a disciple of Jesus understands that these things are not ours to have, but ours to steward. In other words, disciples view their resources as something they can use to expand the Kingdom of God. When we make this shift, greed loses its hold, and we find a new level of freedom.
For Further Study
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DISCUSS the essay, Reading Parables: The Good Samaritan. It may be helpful to have the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) open in front of you as well.
Reading Parables: The Good Samaritan
By Megan Koch
Jesus often taught by telling stories called parables. The word “parable” means something like a puzzle or riddle. Parables also have a “metaphorical” quality to them, meaning that certain characters or events in the parable point us toward something in our world. However, we shouldn’t get too carried away with trying to draw correlations between something in the parable and our world; it’s not supposed to be a perfect comparison. Rather, it points us to a broader truth, often in a very unexpected way.
Read the parable of the Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25–37.
As stated above, parables have a “metaphorical” quality to them. But remember, not everything in the parable stands for something else (Bible readers in the past have gotten tripped up by trying to find hidden meanings that aren’t there. For example, the donkey in the parable we just read probably doesn’t represent anything else. It’s just a donkey). However, there are certain elements of the story that do point us to something in our own world. These are called points of reference.
A point of reference is something that the reader needs to understand in order to get the point of the parable. We have points of reference in jokes, too. For example:
Q: How did Harry Potter get to the bottom of the hill?
A: By walking. JK, Rowling!
What are the points of reference in this joke? In other words, what do we need to understand in order to get the joke? First, we need to know what Harry Potter is. A spaceman who hasn’t heard of Harry Potter books would immediately be at a disadvantage here. Second, we need to realize that the author of Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling. Finally, we need to understand the fact that “JK” is commonly used (especially in texts) to mean, “just kidding.” If the hearer understands all this, then they are prepared to understand all that’s going on in the joke! (next page)
1. What are “points of reference” in a parable? Which ones are most important for us to understand in order to “get” this parable? Why?
2. What was your reaction to the “modern” retelling of the parable at the end of the essay? How does saying it like this help us hear the parable as Jesus meant it to be heard?
3. In Luke 10:29, it says that the teacher of the law “wanted to justify himself.” What does this mean? In what ways do we act similarly when it comes to the topic of generosity?
4. In verse 33, it says that the Samaritan “took pity on” the wounded man (NLT). The NASB (New American Standard Bible) translation says he “felt compassion” for him. Would you say that generosity must always begin with compassion? If so, what breaks your heart?
5. Generosity doesn’t just deal with financial giving. It takes many different forms and is offered in many different ways. What were the different forms of generosity the Samaritan extended toward the wounded man?
6. It may be difficult to see how generosity could be defined as “freedom” (as we do in the outcome for this module). However, consider the examples of the Priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan in this parable. Even though the Samaritan lost quite a bit in the process of helping the wounded man (in the form of time and money), how was he more “free” than the Priest and Levite?
7. Whenever we hear someone preach on the topic of generosity, there is often a “kickback” from God that is implied (or in some cases, downright promised). This “kickback” might be in the form of more wealth or health or success, insisting, “If you give, God will multiply his blessings upon you!”
Yet, it seems clear that the Samaritan could not have expected anything in return for his generosity. He just did it because it was… well... right. At the end of the parable, Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” Since the Samaritan did not expect a reward for his generosity, that means that when we expect a reward after we are generous, we are failing to do “likewise.”
Why would anyone want to live generously when there is no promise of reward?
ASSIGNMENT: Complete the Addiction Inventory, located below..
Journal your responses and return to your next meeting ready to discuss it with your discipler.
By Megan Koch
Life is not easy. Whether you feel like you’ve “had it easy” or not in life, the fact is, the world can be a hard place. Things go wrong all the time. We get hurt easily and often. Our wounds begin at a very early age. For many of us, our earliest memories are negative ones. It seems life is constantly trying to knock us down, and when it does, we reach out for something to hold us steady. The problem is, when we’re very young, very few of us know we can reach out for Jesus to hold us steady. So we do the best we can, reaching out for a false sense of security and comfort from things that can never measure up to the God we’re created to cling to.
We’re abused, ignored, or bullied when we’re young, and instead of Jesus, we reach out for approval, food, or accomplishment. We grow up with a nagging ache inside that doesn’t seem to go away, so we try to fill it with relationships, a good job, substances, or sex. Meeting Jesus doesn’t make these old, insufficient security blankets go away—but it does makes them more obvious. In light of Jesus, it’s much easier to see where we’ve fallen for comforts that can never satisfy.
Old habits die hard, but in Christ, they can die. The key is to first confront the behavior, then submit it to Christ—but don’t stop there. Behavior modification is not enough. Acknowledging unhealthy behaviors leads us to greater discipline in Christ. And it is by practicing these disciplines of freedom that we uncover the root of our issue: the real brokenness beneath the behaviors.
To that end, take inventory of your life and behaviors. It’s crucial you tap into the disciplines of Confession and Guidance as you do this task. Seek the input of your discipler and those you trust to be sure you are seeing your life rightly, and not disregarding something important. Talking about these addictions with those you trust isn’t just so you can better know what’s holding you back. In fact, it’s proven we’re more likely to overcome our obstacles when we do so alongside others who can pick us up, encourage us, and hold us accountable along the way. So go ahead—ask those closest to you if you have any unhealthy habits. None of us are as fine as we think we are. You may think you are not addicted to anything harmful, but look closely with Jesus. There is likely something there. He won’t point it out to shame you; he’ll bring it out to set you free.
It’s easy to spot our addictions, because the thought of losing them makes us feel anxious and exposed, and we all know what that feels like. We like to think we’re in control of our unhealthy habits, and we justify their presence in our lives; but the fact is, they control us. Addiction is the master, and we are the puppet. Our old, corrupted comforts are much more harmful than we realize, and they don’t just affect us; they impact everyone around us. And if we’ve never lived without the sins we savor, it’s hard to estimate how much better life could be without them.
Try to imagine it anyway. Imagine what it would be like to really be free. You’d be a new person. You’d be you. Just you, without the baggage. That’s how God made you to be. This is often referred to as your “True Self.”
You can't live a life of open-handed generosity with one hand tied behind your back. Boldly go discover where you are settling for less, pacifying your pain, or denying God the chance to heal you. Discover how much energy you waste maintaining and managing your addictions, and imagine how much more you’d have to give if those unholy habits were gone. You’d have more time, more money, and more creativity to spare to partner with God to heal the world. You really would.
If you want to be generous with what you have, you have to discover what has you. Identify your unhealthy behaviors and addictions so you can surrender them and get to the bottom of things. Start by completing this simple inventory. Journal your responses to the questions on the next page. Return to your next meeting ready to discuss them with your discipler.