Mobley, John P. Humility, Gratitude and Generosity: Reflections on Abundant Living. 2011; Christian Church in Alabama-Northwest Florida. 72 pp.
Reverend Kory Wilcoxson
In the tenth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” That statement serves as the foundation for John Mobley’s book Humility, Gratitude and Generosity: Reflections on Abundant Living. Mobley, the regional minister for the Alabama-Northwest Florida region, has put together a deeply personal, scripture-drenched reflection on what it means to claim the abundant life Jesus promises.
For Mobley, that life is characterized by the three traits in the title. Humility, gratitude, and generosity are all marks of a Christ-led life, and in this slim but spiritually substantial book, Mobley expounds upon the source and manifestation of each virtue. The momentum of the book builds as Mobley shows how the three characteristics flow into each other. A humble perspective leads to gratitude for our blessings which results in a response of generosity.
To fully capture the link between the three, this book is best read in one sitting.To fully understanding Mobley’s take on generosity, it helps to see how the first two concepts build into it. Mobley first defines humility by what it’s not – shame, guilt, feeling inferior – before stating what it is – a recognition of our God-createdness and our relationship to the rest of creation, calling to mind Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and our neighbor.As we recognize God is God and we are not, that naturally leads to a response of gratitude.
Mobley honestly critiques our culture’s propensity to confuse blessings with entitlements, while also smacking the hand of the church for its dichotomous rewards vs. punishment spirituality. Instead, Mobley says, our response to God’s overflowing grace should not be smugness or fear, but a grateful heart.A faithful practice of humility and gratitude naturally lead to generosity, and Mobley’s interpretation of this characteristic is especially enlightening.
Mobley goes far beyond the traditional example of financial stewardship to show that a generous life includes a willingness to share far more than what’s in our wallets. He offers perspectives on the generosity of acceptance, forgiveness, time and talent, and testimony, along with treasure. His expanded understanding of generosity is a significant contribution to any discussion that seeks to put dollar signs around stewardship. We have been given much (and much more than money), and we are called to be generous with all of it.
Mobley concludes the book with personal reflections about people he knows who exhibit these traits, as well as an authentic examination of a life that seeks to identify the presence of humility, gratitude, and generosity. Mobley’s willingness to model for the reader what it looks like to give yourself a spiritual check-up is one of the greatest contributions of the book. Whether it’s used as a personal study guide or in a small-group setting, this book is a great discussion-starter for what it means to live an abundant, Christ-like life.
Rev. Kory Wilcoxson is the Senior Minister of Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington, KY. He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Communications from Ohio University (Athens) and an M-Div from Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis).