Gerry Lenfest passed away a few months ago. You may be wondering, who is Mr. Lenfest? According to the words of Ed Rendell, former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor, “We’ve lost our greatest citizen, there’s no doubt about that.” Mr. Lenfest, was one of the Philadelphia’s greatest philanthropist.
In October 2017, Mr and Mrs. Lenfest accepted the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Mr. Lenfest was considered one of Philadelphia’s most dynamic civic leaders of the last century. In his life time, Mr and Mrs. Lenfast gave away $1.3 billion to 1,100 organizations.
Mr. Lenfest did not come from money. In fact, he just made some wise business investments and they reaped the benefits. He decided to give away his money in his lifetime, so he could reap the benefits of seeing what his money could do. He played a very important role in getting the Museum of the American Revolution open. (click here to see more on Mr. Lenfest).
I am always inspired by ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I think that’s because we are all quite ordinary but with God, we can do extraordinary things. I think when we give God our little He can make it great.
One story that has always challenged and inspired me is from Luke 21:1-4 which says:
“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
I think most of our spiritual journey is learning how to trust. Learning how to trust God with our future, our past, our present, with our spouse, with our children, with our disappointments, with our questions, and with our finances.
It all goes back to how much we trust God to provide for us and trusting what he said is true: “it is better to give than to receive” Acts 20:35. I think that looks differently for every individual.
I think when we understand James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” We learn to appreciate all the amazing gifts God has granted to us. Breath in our lungs, our 5 senses, two feet, two arms, a brain, I could go on.
Too often, I am including myself, we forget. We forget the innumerable gifts God has given to us and we take those things for granted. Then our mindset shifts into a mindset of entitlement.
To put this into perspective, your friend gives you a bike. You use it everyday to get to work for five years and then the tire goes flat. You wouldn’t call your friend back and say, “I can’t believe you, my bike just had a flat tire. It’s all your fault.” But we, again I am included, do that to God. He’s given us a gift and when it’s gone, we get upset. Instead of realizing He’s a generous God who didn’t owe us anything in the first place.
I love when I see people fighting over a bill. They both want to pay. It’s rare that you see that. You either see everyone look to one person who normally pays to pay again. Or they say, “can you split the bill?” How about this week, you treat someone to lunch? Or, donate to an organization, or go buy a gift for someone you appreciate, or buy the person behind you, coffee from Starbucks. The possibilities to be generous are endless!
“The Gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.” – Tullian Tchividjian