What does it mean to live radically generous? What does that idea look like both personally and in the context of leading a church or ministry in today's culture?
Most of us know what it means to be generous—the dictionary defines it as “liberal in giving, openhanded and marked by abundance.” Radical is “very different from the usual, extreme.” So to be radically generous believers means we aggressively and purposefully look for ways to reach out to others and help meet their needs.
Fortunately, we have the ultimate example. Our God is a generous God—radically generous. He’s passionate about helping people.
He gave us His most precious possession, Jesus Christ, to redeem us and put us back in right relationship with Him. And when Christ’s work on earth was done, He commissioned us to continue His ministry: “We are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us” (2 Cor. 5:20, AMP). The question is: How can we live radically generous like Him and fulfill this incredible assignment He has given us? Again, God modeled this to us 2,000 years ago.
And He continues to model it today as He gives to us in ways we can’t even imagine. Time and again, He has helped me in extremely generous ways. He has brought healing and restoration to my mind, emotions and body, and He continues to do life-changing things in me as I keep growing and maturing in my relationship with Him.
As a result of His work in my life, I’ve experienced a strong passion to reach out and help hurting people. I have determined to every day do something that helps someone else. My husband, Dave, feels the same way, and over the years of ministry we’ve focused more and more on increasing our missions outreaches, in addition to reaching as many people as we can through our TV and radio programs.
Love In Action
In our world today, you don’t have to look very hard to find hurting or needy people. Millions of men and women around the world are enslaved. Millions of children and their families are hungry, living in extreme poverty. Moreover, many more people need to hear the gospel and experience a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Bible is filled with more than 2,000 Scriptures instructing us on how to treat, serve and care for the hungry, the homeless, the poor, the needy, the widows, the orphans, the oppressed and the lost in our midst and to the ends of the earth.
I like 1 John 3:17-18: “But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity).”
God has given each of us resources we can use to show love through our actions, whether those resources are time, talent, material possessions or finances. The deeds we do, out of a compassionate heart, prepare people to hear and receive the gospel.
I often find that because people have so much pain in their lives, they can’t be receptive or open to what we say until we help relieve their suffering. That’s why I’m firmly convinced that we must be armed and ready to help hurting people. Generously meeting people’s practical needs opens the door to addressing their spiritual ones.
A few years ago in Cambodia, I saw unbelievable poverty and oppression. You hear stories about it, but until you see it with your own eyes, the reality escapes you. There in the city dump, thousands of people—about 3,000 of them children—were living in this heap of filth and disease. Day and night, they would sift through the trash with metal rods, looking for food and pieces of glass and plastic to sell so they could buy food. Rats were everywhere; the smell was indescribable. I saw kids covered in sores, with less than half of their hair. Seeing precious children living in such devastating circumstances was heartbreaking. I knew we had to do something. One child living in a trash dump is too many.
We were able to arrange for remodeled feeding buses to come to the dump five days a week to provide meals, showers and basic education classes for the kids to give them opportunities for a better future. God gave us the resources to show love through radical generosity. This is love in action.
The Church’s Greatest Need Today
How we treat others reveals how we love them. I continue to see that the church’s greatest need today is to really learn how to love—to reach out in our communities and cities, and to the people in our congregations.
To Jesus, love was the most important message: “I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]” (John 13:34-35, emphasis added).
Later, the apostle Paul defines love—it is patient, kind, humble, gentle, meek, lowly, not easily offended, not jealous or rude, always believes the best, pays no attention to a suffered wrong, rejoices when truth prevails, and never gives up! (See 1 Cor. 13:4-8.)
Love gives and is willing to make sacrifices. Love lays down its life for others. It is a daily decision we make to help someone else have a better quality of life. I believe this is living radically generous. And when we live this way, both in our personal lives and as we lead our churches, the quality of our lives and ministry increases.
I realize that one glance at a national newscast can be quite discouraging as we look at the condition of our world. But God Himself tells us that His love is greater than the evil in the world. And He can use every single one of us, if we are willing and available to Him, to show His love to others.
When we allow God’s love to flow to us and through us, the world sees God for who He really is—a loving, caring, real and relevant Father who desperately wants a relationship with every person He created.
I believe we need a revolution in our churches—a love revolution—led by radical generosity. Instead of focusing on ourselves and our needs, God wants us to put others’ needs first.
It's Not All About Me...Or You!
Jesus said He came so that we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)” (John 10:10). So I believe that Jesus does want us to live happy, joy-filled lives.
But I can tell you from experience that it is impossible to be happy and in the will of God if you have you on your mind all the time. I lived that way for many years, and I was miserable. I didn’t really begin living the abundant life Jesus died to give us until I learned that life is not all about me. We cannot be selfish and happy at the same time.
Now I get up every day and think on purpose about what I can do for somebody else. I listen and look for opportunities to be a blessing to those in need. I cannot begin to tell you how radically this has transformed me.
I remember one time when Dave and I were in a restaurant and noticed it was pretty empty. I asked our waitress about it, and she said, “Yeah, this has been one of the slowest days we’ve had in a while.” Instantly, the thought came to me: This lady has kids, and she hasn’t made any money today.
So I turned to Dave after she left and said, “Let’s give her a hundred dollars.” He agreed, and when she came back, Dave handed her the money and said, “We feel like God wants us to give you this.” She was utterly shocked.
“You’ve got to be kidding!” she said. “My daughter ran away and just came back. I had to take off work yesterday because I needed to take care of her. I was so concerned because I didn’t make any money yesterday, and today we’ve been so slow. I just can’t believe this!”
We told her, “God loves you and wants to bless you. We love Jesus, and that’s why we want to bless you, too.”
The interesting thing is, when it came time to pay our bill, somebody had already paid it, proving once again that we cannot outgive God!
So find someone who is hurting and aim to make a difference in their life, whether it’s something you do personally or lead your church to do: “Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). In other words, have your mind full of ways to be a blessing to others.
More than anything, I want to ignite a fresh fire of passion in your heart for God. He is passionate about helping the hungry, the homeless, the poor, the needy, the widows, the orphans, the oppressed and the lost. And I believe we need to be passionate about helping them, too.
Do What You Can Do
As our ministry has trusted God and stepped out in faith, He has blessed it with unbelievable favor, opening doors of opportunity to do incredible things through our Hand of Hope World Missions outreach. It has been an amazing journey. And we couldn’t do it without God’s faithful provision and the wonderful partners who help to make it all possible. As people help support us to do what God calls us to do, we hope and pray that they are also inspired and encouraged to step out in faith and pursue the vision God puts on their hearts to live radically generous lives.
One woman said that after she heard me teach on this, she prayed and asked God what she could do. He reminded her that she was good at baking. With her pastor’s permission, she started making cakes and pies and selling them after church each Sunday, giving all proceeds to missions.
I know of a group of women who were so desperate to help the poor and feed the hungry that they decided to have a garage sale and donate the proceeds. The idea worked so well that they went into the garage sale business. In their first year, they raised more than $30,000. Today, they operate a store in a strip mall, giving all profits to world mission projects.
I challenge you to begin living each day with the goal of doing at least one thing to help somebody else. When you see needs around you, pray and ask God to show you creative ways that you and your church can help.
Don’t let the devil lie to you and make you think that what you can do is insignificant. God has equipped you and your church with the power to do great things!
As you step out in faith and do what you can do, you and your people will find that there’s really nothing more fulfilling and satisfying than helping to make someone else’s life better.
That’s why I have dedicated the rest of my life to preaching the gospel and relieving as much human suffering as I can with the time and resources we are given. I have made a commitment to God that I will always take justice and relief wherever I take His Word. I have resolved to start and carry out a love revolution—and I’m starting with myself. I hope you will join me.
In February 1976, Joyce Meyer drove to her job in St. Louis, frustrated after having yet another difficult morning, when she cried out to God: “Something is wrong; something is missing!” That day, Meyer says, the Holy Spirit touched her life.
“I was just so frustrated, because I was desperately trying to do what I felt like the church was telling me to do,” she says. “I was going to church and doing church work. And it just wasn’t working for me. That day, I became so very acutely aware of not only the presence of God, but the goodness of God.”
It was a spiritual turning point that became a catalyst for what has become one of the largest ministries in the world and what would make Meyer one of the most recognizable and respected leaders in Christendom today.
St. Louis-based Joyce Meyer Ministries includes the international radio and TV program, Enjoying Everyday Life, broadcasting worldwide to a potential audience of 4.5 billion, and close to a dozen domestic and international conferences every year. Meyer is also a New York Times best-selling author of more than 90 books that have been translated into nearly 100 different languages. Her most recent release, Do Yourself a Favor ... Forgive, tackles the vital practice of forgiveness and its positive impact.
Through Meyer’s teachings and resources, God has provided myriad opportunities to meet the needs of the suffering and demonstrate the gospel in practical ways. Hand of Hope, the missions arm of Joyce Meyer Ministries, supports and provides outreaches around the world. In 2000, Dave and Joyce Meyer founded the St. Louis Dream Center to serve their hometown’s inner city through hands-on programs targeted at reaching the lost and hurting with the love of Christ.
“We are passionate about world missions,” she says. “I have dedicated the rest of my life to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and relieving as much human suffering as I can with the time and resources we are given.”