On Generosity

September 2005

We as Christians are to be the greatest reflection of God’s characteristics to a fallen world. But in one area we often come up lacking — and this is especially true of myself. That attribute is generosity. As I was reading in Betty Barnett’s book Friend Raising, recently, she touched upon just this subject and it struck a deep cord in me. And so I took some time and looked at this idea in Scripture. God by His very nature is generous. Have you ever noticed the richness of this world we live in? It would have been easy for Him to make a world where we could subsist of flavorless lichen and be alive. But, no, all around us are plants that are sweet, succulent, piquant, savory, delectable. This world is a smorgasbord of colors, hues, smells, textures.

Then think of God’s generosity in the spiritual realm: He gave His all: His One and Only Son so that we could be with him (John 3:16). If that is not over-abundant generosity, I don’t know what is. But He didn’t even stop there: He poured out the gifts of His Spirit and the empowerment to serve Him upon us (Romans 12). He made us a royal priesthood and a holy nation, set apart to Him (I Peter 2:9). He blesses us with our daily bread. He answers our prayers. He gives us clothes and food so that we don’t have to worry about tomorrow.

In light of such amazing generosity of God’s part how can we as Christians be any less generous? If you look at the Hebrew word for a generous man, it is the same word used for a noble man. Nobility and generosity are inextricably intertwined with one another. To extend the metaphor, we, as the princes and princesses of the Kingdom of God, are to be noble towards others and so we are to be generous as well. We are to be good as God is, and both the New Testament and the Old designate those who are generous as being “good”. And Jesus gives a promise about being generous that blows my mind every time I read it: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 — NASB) What a thing to spur us on to give and to give without holding back!

Now, it’s easy to give to a one-time thing and to be generous then, but the discipline of generosity is extremely difficult. I have always hesitated from supporting a fellow worker, because I didn’t have enough money myself. But the principle of generosity dictates that even though I have little, I need to give back to God whatever I don’t need for daily living, and this includes the support of others who are laboring for the Kingdom.

Generosity also involves the principle of “going the extra mile” (Matthew 5:38-42). If we’re asked to do something, do more than what we’re asked to do. This is a witness and a reflection of God that will cause people to ask questions.

Making it practical for myself, I’ve realized that I must give my tithe to God and hold my time, energy, and especially money very loosely. When God brings opportunities to pour my earthly treasures into someone or something, then I will do so, because I know that the blessing of giving is far greater than the pain of parting with the money I hold so dear. Let’s live on God’s economy, because “the Kingdom of God’s system of finances is giving and receiving”, not buying and selling (quoting Earl Pitts). Trust me, a happy giver receives far more benefits than one who does so stinting and grudgingly.