My Simplicity Journey: Radical Generosity

Article by Malcolm Marler, Edited by Dee DeWitt


In my journey to live more simply is a desire to be radically generous to the poor or to those in need.  I don’t believe we can live a simplified life of faith without this foundation …


But man do I struggle with this.


So how do we exercise radical generosity with our resources, money, and everything we own materially?


One barrier that gets in the way for me is I think that … when I make a little more money, or when I get this month’s bills paid off … then I can be more generous to the poor.


Living with radical generosity seems difficult or impossible because we think of giving out of our abundance.  But this abundance never seems to be there.


Since I was a little boy, my father and mother taught me to tithe, that is, to give ten percent of everything I made away to others in need.  This is a practice found in the Hebrew scriptures of the Bible.  I have tried to do this almost all of my life.  Usually, this has been a check written to support whatever church I attended.


However, I’m starting to doubt the value of “tithe thinking.”  Mainly because it doesn’t go far enough. And besides … the tithe was never embraced by Jesus much to the surprise of many Christians.


Richard Foster points out that Jesus and all the writers of the New Testament radically criticized wealth because everything we have is a gift from God, and “everything we have is available to others when it is right and good.  This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity,” says Foster (Freedom of Simplicity, pg. 58).


One example of this was when Jesus watched the voluntary offerings by the people as they entered the temple.  He was moved the most by the sacrificial gift of the widow.  He said, “For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put everything she had, her whole living” (Mark 12:44).

This radical generosity is based on trust that God will take care of our basic needs.


Yet when pressed, we can’t help but think this, of course, is foolishness to us and to almost everyone we know.  We will be the laughing stock of our friends.  But it is worth thinking about, meditating on, and taking steps towards this radical trust in God.


Oh my goodness, I have a long way to go in this area.  God help me to be more generous with all of the gifts you have given me.


So … how do you live in a radically generous way?  Who do you know who has been radically generous to you?  To others?  What have they done? Tell me your story below. 


How can you and I be radically generous today?  It begins with trust.  We cannot afford to wait.




“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”
-Kahlil Gibran


Malcolm Marler is Director of Pastoral Care for UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.  In addition to his interest in spirituality and health, he loves to identify physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons, then design and build programs that help meet those needs.  His warmth and humor along with his powerful message of hope and grace is his greatest strength.  Malcolm grew up in Alabama and attended Clemson University (S.C.) on a football scholarship as a defensive back where he graduated with a B.A. degree in Psychology.  He is a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY with Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.  Malcolm lives on a lake in North Alabama with the love of his life, Mary Bea Sullivan.  He has two open-hearted, loving stepchildren, Brendan and Kiki who are both freshman in college.  For more information or to contact Malcolm, please visit


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Posted on 8 April, 2010 in Helping Others, Simplify
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