The generosity of God

Flowers in the desert

I slipped in to the  Faraday Institute ordinands course this morning to hear a lecture by Hilary Marlow on ‘Theologies of Creation: The foundation for environmental concern’. What she said was tremendously positive, focusing on the relationship between God, humanity and ‘the non-human creation’ and then covering the range of theologies of creation found in different branches of the church.

The part that I liked most was Hilary’s interpretation of Jesus’ miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 as a sign to us of God’s generosity. At times when we hear about environmental concerns the response is a ‘hair shirt’ frugality that is very difficult to live out. But we can see examples of God’s generosity all over creation – take for example a  desert that bursts into flower – and also in stories like the prodigal son, where the father is quite happy to give half of his property to his son so he can learn by his mistakes.

Of course waste isn’t good and the desert doesn’t always burst into flower, sometimes becasue of interference by humankind. But it’s good to remember that what we’re aiming for in sustainable living is a full enjoyment of the amazing gifts that God has given us.

6 thoughts on “The generosity of God

  1. Dr Ike Okadigwe January 14, 2011 / 5:42 pm

    Indeed – as Jesus said; “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance” (to the full, till it overflows) – John10:10 Amplified Bible.


  2. James Garth January 14, 2011 / 7:55 pm

    Thanks for reminding us afresh of a generous world that we can so often take for granted.

    I love reflecting on the many examples of robust fertility in the created order that lead to generous abundance. Like the tendency for rainbows and intricate snowflakes to coalesce under the right conditions, a hundred billion galaxies, useful elements like Iron and Uranium laying buried in the Earth’s crust waiting for us to use. Brains that spontaneously generate new ideas and solutions like flowers bursting into bloom. Order, surprise and delight at every level!


  3. Sandra dutson January 24, 2011 / 8:59 pm

    A note of caution! I think there is a bit of a tension between God’s generosity and the understanding of incarnation which is the acceptance of limits and limitation. God has also been very generous with oil but there are real limits to how much our ‘abundant’ living should require its consumption. Our generation has begun to understand difference between renewable and non-renewable resources. A theology which overemphasises the inexhaustible generosity of God can be misused and maybe already has been to encourage greed. Sharing and self giving amongst those who had very little, in fact whose lives were often lived very frugally indeed, were celebrated by Jesus. This is about appreciation of resources and generosity. However the generosity is primarily understood as an expression of love and care not a celebration of vast quantities of unlimited resources.


  4. Ruth Bancewicz January 25, 2011 / 9:52 am

    Good point Sandra. In emphasising the generosity point I didn’t mention that this was in the context of a talk about how we need to take care of creation, and sandwiched between talks by Dave Bookless of A Rocha who spoke about practical environmental engagement in the church.

    Mp3s of the full talks by Hilary Marlow and Dave Bookless are at:


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