Imagine you were in prison in your twenties. Nothing you did put you there. Your hometown was sacked by a foreign army. You were rounded up with other young men and placed in a prison, waiting for them to ship you off and force you to fight in the very army that imprisoned you. To make matters worse a famine strikes the land. Destined to die by starvation or by sword, a bright light shines into the darkness. Under the veil of night, food appears through the prison bars. You and your friends gobble it up.
This happened to young Pachomius. As the food came, night after night, Pachomius asked the obvious questions: “Who are these people?” “Where did they come from?” “Why are they freely giving us their food during a famine?” Pachomius found his answer. They were members of a religious sect called “The Galileans” or “The Way” or, as they are better know today, “Christians.”
Christians have a long history of generosity. Their generosity over the first few hundred years was epic. When plagues descended upon cities, most people fled. Christians stayed and cared for the sick left behind. The modern-day hospital largely grew out of what Christians were doing in Medieval Europe during the plagues.
Hundreds of years before that, the church in Jerusalem was in extreme need. The Apostle Paul had an idea. He called for churches in Greece to take a weekly collection and set it aside for the churches in Jerusalem to distribute. Some churches in northern Greece were going through their own trials and extreme poverty. Yet, they gave beyond their means. They practically begged Paul to let them give. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
Everyone is for generosity, when living is easy. Times of scarcity cause a crisis. Will we remain generous when circumstances are uncertain, even dire?
After Pachomius survived his forced military service, he sought out the Christians who fed him and his companions. He was later baptized and then became a renowned leader in the church. He was smitten with generosity, after encountering the God who is generous. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).”
At a time like this we could do with a little more generosity. Will you allow yourself to be captivated by the God who is generous?