When I first met Rick and Gaile, I had no idea what our future held!
During my years serving at Mariners Church, Rick and Gaile got involved in the children’s ministry. Actually, Gaile started working with our five-year-olds, and Rick helped her.
Gaile organized and planned everything, and Rick thought he was just doing crowd control. Everyone knew, however, that the two of them together had a unique ministry: Gaile did much of the teaching, and Rick was the relational ministry animal. They were—and still are—a great team.
Rick was born and raised in Chile, and his father passed away when he was young. He came to the United States with his mom and sisters during some tumultuous years in Chile.
After a successful business career in the US, his entrepreneurial spirit led him back to Chile where he started another successful business. During his travels back and forth between Chile and the US, he met a Chilean pastor who had planted a new church and needed help with their children’s ministry.
Rick knew just the person to talk to, and during one of my visits from Poland, he asked me to help. I explained that EGM couldn’t travel the globe helping every church that asked.
Our model was—and still is—to develop national ministry teams that both train children’s ministry leaders in the country and provide culturally relevant Bible teaching materials.
Undaunted, he spoke to the pastor and learned that several churches needed help. So, on my next trip to the States, Rick approached me again.
I explained that EGM was struggling financially and that we had started field research in Egypt. He nodded as if he understood, but I could tell he wasn’t going to give up.
Six months later Marla and I relocated to the United States, and that was when Rick began his full-court press. He told me that he would pay for my travel and accommodations, buy lunch for all the children’s workers who attended, and cover any other expenses.
Clearly, he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I told him I needed to consult the board of directors. To this day, I’m not sure, but I think Rick talked to some board members because I got the green light.
A very enthusiastic Rick got right to work with a team of Chilean leaders. They chose a date about three months away. Sixty days before Rick and I were to leave, we had over a hundred leaders signed up for the training that would be held at the Assemblies of God Church in Quilpue. Rick assured me that he was able to handle the financial commitment.
About forty-five days before the trip, the enrollment had surged to 250 people. One month before our departure, more than 500 leaders were planning to attend—and the sanctuary only held 500! Also, I was getting worried about the lunch tab for Rick!
More concerned about having the space he needed than the cost of lunch, Rick consulted with me and the team, and then he rented a banquet hall at a nearby hotel.
On Saturday we would host a second event at the hotel. The number kept growing, and when Rick and I landed in Santiago, the hotel banquet room was filled to its 750 capacity. And—a man of his word—Rick bought lunch… for 1,250 people!
Being a person of lesser means, I thought the lunch bill was going to crush Rick and Gaile financially. Au contraire—and they were so excited to be part of something amazing that God was doing.
Not only did Rick handle the financial matters, but he also translated for me all day Friday and Saturday. At the time his translation fee was zero, but he has doubled it every year since—and we’ve served together for over twenty years. Go figure.
Rick and Gaile’s generous giving of money, time, and heart was truly inspiring. Their example prompted many people to praise God with a heart overflowing with thanksgiving.
Rick and Gaile offer a real-life example of the kind of generous and cheerful giving that Paul had in mind when he wrote 2 Corinthians 9.
So You Don’t Miss It…
Paul used the word generosity (euvlogi,a) four times in two verses. He used a similar word—a`plo,thj htoj—also translated as generosity twice in 2 Corinthians 9:11.
I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And, God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:5-11 NIV)
Note that in verse 5, Paul reminded the Corinthians about their promise to make a generous gift, and he urged them to prepare it before he arrived in Corinth.
As we looked at briefly in the previous chapter, the word translated generous here and in verse 5 is the Greek word (euvlogi,a).
This word is found in eleven other New Testament passages (Romans 15:29, 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 2 Corinthians 9:5; Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 6:7, 12:17; James 3:10; 1 Peter 3:9; Revelation 5:12-13, 7:12) and—without exception—is translated blessing, the fourth option in the word’s definition:
euvlogi,a, aj, h` (1) strictly good or fine speech; hence praise, eulogy (RV 5.12); (2) in a bad sense flattery, plausible arguments (RO 16.18); (3) of persons invoking God's favor on other persons blessing, benediction (JA 3.10); (4) of favor or benefit bestowed by God blessing, bounty (HE 12.17); (5) of benefit bestowed by people gift, bounty (2C 9.5); evpV euvlogi,aij bountifully, liberally (2C 9.6); (6) of things on which God's blessing has been pronounced consecrated. (1C 10.16) (Friberg, Bible Works 2.0)
In light of the rich meanings of eulogia, no wonder Paul associated generosity with being blessed. Let’s consider that connection:
1. Sowing/Reaping: The sowing/reaping principle illustrates that generosity begets generosity. When we are a blessing to others, we are blessed in return. Paul also reminded the Corinthians that while they currently had plenty, the day would come when they would be in want and would look to the Jerusalem church for generosity. The apostle put it this way: Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).
2. Harvest of Righteousness: Continuing with the sowing/reaping metaphor, Paul referred to the time of reaping—to the harvest—and this harvest is one of righteousness. According to Paul, generosity sows righteousness in the life of the giver. Not only do we bless those to whom we give, but at the same time we also please God by doing what is right in His eyes. We know from our chapter 9 discussion of the heart/treasure principle that our heart goes wherever we give. When we show concern for others in the Christian family through our giving, we are pleasing God and providing for His people. Generosity to God and to His people builds godliness in our own lives.
3. Loving Him: Generosity can express the sincerity of our love for God. We are to be generous not only to people but to Him as well. After all, our gift is to God and for God. Our generosity is also an expression of thanksgiving to God (9:11), and at the same time it is a cause for thanksgiving (9:12). Our generous, lavish giving is a means of lavishing our praise on God and being generous in our love for Him. When we give generously, we experience the joyful blessing of loving Him.
Generosity has become a focus in the evangelical Christian community. Books have been written, generosity seminars led, and organizations started—all to encourage generosity among the people of God.
There is a grassroots movement to help generous giving become part of every Christian’s lifestyle. The generosity that Paul encouraged is generosity to God, an act of worship.
God has blessed me with many generous friends. I am often amazed by the way they give generously even when they are lacking. And sometimes their generosity is more apparent to me than it is to them.
The common strain with each is their generosity towards God.
They do not look for accolades from people, rather their generosity is a “lavish” expression of love for God and His people. Next week we will take a closer look at the qualities of a generous giver.