Extravagant generosity

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work …. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”—2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Across the South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, we have spent more than a decade together seeking a more excellent way in ministry and mission as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Together, we have achieved “God-sized” dreams that seemed beyond reach without relying on each other.

We have worked together to make real what would otherwise be impossible, achieving more together than we could ever do apart. We are developing leaders, engaging our communities, connecting with and growing disciples and measuring and evaluating current realities and missional possibilities.

We look forward this month to Thanksgiving, a time filled with traditions, celebrations and opportunities to practice extravagant generosity. As we enter this season of the year, I want to express my deep appreciation for your commitment to the building up of the kingdom here in South Carolina. Thank you for the ways that you work to meet the tangible needs of your neighbors. Thank you for all of the ways you give from what you have sown as an act of thanksgiving to God.

So often, “giving” is directly associated with money.

But the reality is that the gospel demands more than our money. It demands our life, a commitment of who we are, as well as what we have. It demands a way of life characterized by gratitude and generosity.

Giving is about a joy so great we can’t contain it and want to share it. It’s about the ministry made possible through the gifts we offer and the transformation that giving makes possible in us. It is about trusting that God is, indeed, able to provide every blessing in abundance.

Giving is about connecting with United Methodists across the globe in mission and ministry. It’s about serving with the generous people of the South Carolina Conference who prove time and again your willingness to be challenged to achieve “God-sized” dreams. It’s about using our gifts and talents for the common good.

Indeed, it is an extravagant blessing and privilege to serve God together!

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