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An Overflowing Generous Life by Patrick Johnson

The 3-Point Cycle of an Overflowing, Generous Life

By Patrick Johnson~

Think about what an overflowing generous life might look like.  Start by thinking of the most generous person you know. In your mind’s eye picture their face. What do you see?

Meet Catherine

I want you to meet one of the most generous people I know—Catherine. In Catherine’s face, I see joy, delight, excitement and authenticity.

Catherine works in a bakery. In the pre-dawn hours every morning you’ll find her kneading bread, all the while faithfully mixing in prayers for her customers. One day, Catherine learned of a widow’s need for a car. Although Catherine had been saving for her own car, she knew what God was calling her to do.

It wasn’t easy for her to take this step of obedience. In some ways Catherine felt like she didn’t have enough to make a difference. But, as she gave her savings to help this widow, she experienced something wonderful—the refreshment of whole-life generosity, an overflowing life released to God for others.

An Overflowing Life

Is it possible to live a life like Catherine, one that is continually refreshed, day in and day out? Catherine would say yes! Of course maintaining a life of overflowing generosity can be difficult. It can be inconvenient and even risky at times. It cuts again the cultural narratives all around us. Yet in this posture we find God’s way for living life to the full, receiving the blessings and gifts of God and pouring them back into others.

This type of generosity isn’t a series of acts. It’s an overflowing life of continual refreshment through generosity versus the dry, weary existence that comes from focus on self.

Whole-life Generosity

If you think about Catherine and the generous people you have known, these characteristics of joy, delight, excitement and authenticity are probably combined with other descriptors such as selfless, giving and compassionate. Yet, there’s only one person who embodies everything it means to be generous—Jesus.

The apostle Paul reminds us,

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich – 2 Corinthians 8:9, ESV

Jesus knew both the pain and joy of sacrificial giving. Jesus is the true model and motivator of what we call “whole-life generosity.”

As Jesus showed us, this kind of generosity is rooted in our relationship with God and flows from His presence within us. Like a fountain bubbling up from within us, we are refreshed, and that blessing overflows to others.

Whole-life generosity is a progressive cycle: Our relationship with God prompts a response of gratitude, which we express by releasing what we have received from Him to bless others. In turn, our relationship with God is strengthened, our gratitude grows stronger, our release is greater and our adventure of whole-life generosity grows and advances.

It’s the imagery that Paul had in mind as he penned his letter to the churches in Corinth.

And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8, NET

Please watch the rest of Catherines inspiring story in this sample video and share your story here, too.


Patrick Johnson is founder of GenerousChurch™, a nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping leaders in churches to unleash whole-life generous disciples. For the last fourteen years, Patrick has contributed to the message of biblical generosity through organizations such as Generous Giving and The National Christian Foundation. His latest resource is entitled Overflow: A Life Refreshed by Generosity.

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