by Rosie Adle
I was running errands in a Thrivent T-shirt one day (in other words, a day like any other) when a person told me she liked my shirt. I smiled and thanked her. (I did look pretty great. It was the sea green edition, which is one of my faves.) She elaborated by saying, “Live Dangerously. That’s so cool. More people should live like that.”
At first, I didn’t know if she was joking or not. It was a confusing flash moment. My shirt definitely did not say, “Live Dangerously.” It said, “Live Generously.” But here was a person who loved the slogan even though she had not read it correctly. I decided to let her enjoy what she thought she was enjoying. I gave her a big thumbs-up and wished her a great day of dangerous living!
Later, though, when I overcame my case of the chuckles, I got to thinking. What if living generously and living dangerously had more in common than I had first thought?
The book of Ecclesiastes offers a kind of funny opening to its 11th chapter. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Unless we are talking about feeding waterfowl off a quaint bridge, I am not one to cast my bread upon the waters. It sounds wasteful. It even sounds a little reckless to the worrywart in me! Then verse two gets loonier yet. “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.” If there’s one thing I know, it’s that looming disasters get the weather people talking earnestly about the need to stock our pantries, not fling all of our foodstuffs out the window.
These verses teach the kind of extravagant generosity that most of us would find risky. The point is this: If we have the means to be generous, we should be about it while we have the opportunity. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? But if today, right at this very moment, we happen to hold more than we need in our own hands, we should open those hands, widely, charitably — dangerously, even! — in Christian love to care for those who lack.
Living generously is one of the things that we are called to in Christ. He gave up absolutely everything for us and for the world, from the very shirt(/robe) on His back to His own dear life. We cannot live up to this, and indeed are not called to be saviors of the world, for that was the work of Christ alone. But by His Spirit, we can and should respond to His call to love one another as He first loved us. He loved us with a generosity like none other. He loved us to a dangerous degree. Following Him means that we say to the wisdom of this age that it very often has everything backward. Living generously does not always look sensible or wise, but it looks like the love of Jesus, and by this all people will know that we are His disciples.
Let’s get out there and live dangerously, giving a portion to seven, or even eight! Let’s live and give generously as unto the Lord. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17).
Deaconess Rosie Adle is an online instructor for the distance deaconess program of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. She wishes you a great day of dangerous living!