Jesus: The Chief of Generous Givers

Apr 29, 2011

Written by Ashley McHugh

In our study of generosity this month we focus on Jesus, the chief of generous givers. In his book Generosity: Moving Toward Life That Is Truly Life, Gordon MacDonald states that Paul summarized 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 as, “He who was rich chose to become poor so that you might become spiritually rich. There is here what some might call a transfer of wealth. He became the sacrificial Lamb of God and forfeited His life that out of the atoning work of the cross, spiritually poor people (each of us) might become rich.” 

Understanding that we are all indeed spiritually poor people apart from Christ, 2PC members Pat McCarty, Jr and Lynne Witherington are among many members of Second who are generous with their time as a response to their faith — whose central act is an act of generosity. Both of them volunteer with Advance Memphis, which is a key ministry partner of Second.

Though just seven miles from Second Presbyterian Church, the Cleaborn/Foote neighborhood is located in the 38126 zip code—the poorest urban zip code in Tennessee. In the heart of this community is Advance Memphis, an organization that is on a mission to transform this impoverished area through the gospel of Jesus Christ by empowering the adults who live there.

Says Mike Shaw, outreach coordinator for Advance, “It is the programs we offer that bring people in the building. It is the relationships that are formed that change lives.” Some of these include the Champions program where students are connected with church-going professionals who mentor them in work, life and faith. Other biblically-based programs include a financial literary course, job readiness, job placement and GED tutoring.    

Pat McCarty, Jr shares his accounting skills with Advance. “For several years I have worked with Steve Nash, and the dedicated staff that exhibit the hands and feet of Jesus in a tangible way to some of our city’s most vulnerable inhabitants,” says Pat. “Even though the needs for their services far exceed their capital and manpower, the Lord continues to bless the ministry of Advance. It is having a beneficial impact on the residents of their neighborhood and businesses all over our city.” 

Lynne Witherington, also generously volunteers her time there. “It is exciting to work around a staff that is so compassionate, dedicated and eager to extend a helping hand to an area of our city that has such a great need.  Working there has given me such a sense of purpose in helping our city and reaching others for Christ as I worked behind the scenes to lessen the load for another. R.C. Sproul said, ‘right now counts forever’ which I have taken to heart.  I want to make my time count at whatever age or season I am in,” says Lynne.  

Other 2PC members give generously of their time, talent and treasures by acting as prayer partners, counselors, class speakers and lunch providers. Additionally, Advance receives financial support from the church as a Mission Memphis program partner. And recognizing the vital services Advance extends to the community, the 2PC Foundation has provided $75,000 over a three year period. 

As Pat McCarty shares, “I am continuously humbled and challenged as I see the staff model our Lord Jesus Christ in their love and service to our neighbors.  They are not only meeting the physical needs but many relational, emotional and spiritual needs as well.” Pat’s personal experience and the blessings he has received as a volunteer—and that of others—are serving to advance God’s Kingdom throughout our city.

Gordon MacDonald also states, “By richness we are not talking about adding to someone else’s net worth. Rather we are talking about spiritual richness or the richness that comes from living the life that God intended for all (not just the privileged) to live. Jesus set the pace in His incarnation and His atonement at the cross. He went from wealth to poverty that we might go from poverty to wealth. That is our model. That is our call.”