Thinking Generously of Our Neighbors {Even When They Don't Deserve It}

{This is the eleventh of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far. This particular post was written by Danae Burghgraef. Danae was the first person to ever randomly see me and say, "Wait, are you Kendra Broekhuis?" It was a special almost-celebrity moment. But what drew me to Danae was her Facebook feed. If we asked what people's Facebook pages say about them, it would say that Danae is constantly seeking wisdom and truth in Scripture. It's funny how even our social media can become a witness and an encouragement to others! Today, Danae writes about how we can give generously to people in the way we think about them! I love this interpretation of a question I grapple with in one of the chapters of Here Goes Nothing. She writes, "Instead of assuming the worst about someone's words or actions, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's choose to refresh others with our words and actions even if we think they don’t deserve it. Living a life of generosity in this way will in fact refresh our souls."}

{This is the eleventh of twelve in a guest blog series I am hosting through March. The series will zero in on a variety of themes from my book, Here Goes Nothing: An Introvert's Reckless Attempt to Love Her Neighbor. The writers of these posts are people I deeply admire for their wisdom and their constant seeking of Christ’s Kingdom on behalf of their neighbors both near and far.

This particular post was written by Danae Burghgraef. Danae was the first person to ever randomly see me and say, "Wait, are you Kendra Broekhuis?" It was a special almost-celebrity moment. But what drew me to Danae was her Facebook feed. If we asked what people's Facebook pages say about them, it would say that Danae is constantly seeking wisdom and truth in Scripture. It's funny how even our social media can become a witness and an encouragement to others!

Today, Danae writes about how we can give generously to people in the way we think about them! I love this interpretation of a question I grapple with in one of the chapters of Here Goes Nothing. She writes, "Instead of assuming the worst about someone's words or actions, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's choose to refresh others with our words and actions even if we think they don’t deserve it. Living a life of generosity in this way will in fact refresh our souls."}

I have been thinking a lot about generosity.

One thing that has stuck with me from Kendra's book was the question we all too frequently ask ourselves: “But do they deserve my gift?”

If we allow our minds to drift to that question, I bet a few people come to our minds mind-people we think don’t deserve our kindness or any sort of gift we could give them. People we would define as really hard to love, or just plain enemies.

The truth is, sometimes people are indifferent toward us. And sometimes people don't wish us well. And sometimes, in horrible circumstances, people take great delight in burdening us. Jesus has special words for when that happens. {See Luke 6:27-36}

But I wonder if in our own sinful minds we twist things around and make enemies of those who really mean no harm.

A few weeks ago I read an article my parents’ pastor had written. In his article about generosity, he wrote, “Be more generous to your enemy in the way you think of them.”

Since reading that line I have thought about it every single day. I have pondered who my enemy is, and I have wondered if all too often I make enemies of people who are not really my enemies at all.

The fastest way to make an enemy is a sinful, cynical mind.

A cynically minded person will jump to conclusions and assume the worst possible motive for whatever it was the other person said or did. These cynical thoughts become snarky comments that tumble out of our mouths and start a fire that spreads rapidly. Our words all too often poison the minds of others in our way of getting them “on our side.”

Jesus said in Matthew 12:35-36: 

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

Jesus says the problem lies within our hearts. Our hearts are sinful. Our minds are sinful. We twist things around until we believe what we are thinking, and then we get others to believe the same things. We withhold our generosity from people who we don’t think deserve anything at all. 

But living a life like this is exhausting! It is detrimental to our health both emotionally and spiritually. It will literally suck the life right out of us. How important it is to realize the seriousness of sinful thoughts flowing out of our mouths.

Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken.

That is a sobering thought to me.

Jesus knows we can't do it on our own.

He knows that the only way for righteousness to flow from our mouths will be if our hearts are abundantly filled with Him. The good news is when we receive Him as our Savior He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to love and do some pretty difficult things. 

Proverbs 11:25 says,

“A generous person will prosper;

    whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

So let's love our neighbor by thinking generously of them.

Instead of assuming the worst about someone's words or actions, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's choose to refresh others with our words and actions even if we think they don’t deserve it.

Living a life of generosity in this way will in fact refresh our souls. 

My prayer is that Christ, who is Himself the “fountain of living waters,” will flow through me to make my own mouth a fountain of life and refresh those around me. Because Christ humbled Himself to die on the cross for my sins, even though I didn't deserve His precious gift. 

 

Grace and Peace,

Danae

 

{Bio: Danae is a Christ follower, wife, mom and nurse. As you can see, those things leave little time to write any more of a bio.}

{Bio: Danae is a Christ follower, wife, mom and nurse. As you can see, those things leave little time to write any more of a bio.}