Tending to Others Generously

June/July 2011
by Howard Freeman

Before our family moved back to New York City with our kids we lived north of Boston for eight years.

In our area of New England people took gardening almost as seriously as they did their baseball. Nurseries abounded alongside local ice cream stands and fried clam restaurants. Most homeowners spent weekends taking care of not just the lawn but also the flowerbeds—tending to them, making them beautiful for themselves and for their neighbors. Bringing order out of chaos, making things beautiful, is in our DNA.

For this is how God made us; it is how he himself is. And he is not only our Creator; he is our Master Craftsman. The psalmist sings to the Lord, ‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well’ (Psalm 139:14). Paul writes to the Ephesians, ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10). ‘Workmanship’ in the Greek is ‘poeima,’ from which we get our English word ‘poem.’ You, my friend, are God’s poem, His masterpiece.

What, then, are the implications of this truth for generosity?

First, if I am God’s workmanship, then so is my brother or sister in Christ and even my neighbor who is not yet a believer. We see that this affects our ‘theology of people,’ because we realize that God is Creator and Master Craftsman of all. Second, if we see others being made into masterpieces by God, isn’t it our responsibility to pour our lives into them generously and holistically—not only our time and money, but also our vulnerabilities and strengths, our names and reputations and resources? If God has freely given us his own Son Jesus, then shouldn’t we be willing to give to others—even to our ‘enemies’—from what we have, which is given to us by God ‘to do good works,’ as Paul says? 

The Gardener got his hands dirty with proverbial soil to tend to us, to make us beautiful. How can we do less for others?


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