Generosity begins and ends with the gospel.
It commenced when God gave physical life to Adam by breathing into his nostrils
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. –Genesis 2:7
It culminated when God gave us eternal life through His Son.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 6:23
It continues in the presence of the Holy Spirit, which God gives to believers. (See also, Romans 5:5.)
We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. –Acts 5:32
Throughout the history of the world, to and through the moment you read this, God has been giving to His creation!
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. –Romans 11:35-36a
Whenever we are generous (giving with a joyful spirit, like in 2 Corinthians 8:2),we reflect God the Giver. Our actions—even in the most secular situations—speak of God’s generosity. For Christ-followers, who seek to represent Christ in daily living, we pattern our generosity on God, who gave fully and freely.
Why? Because it pleases God (2 Corinthians 9:7) and because our giving creates opportunities to talk about God’s most generous gift: His Son.
God Gave Fully
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. –2 Corinthians 8:9
Don’t get me started on this verse! Just go back for yourself and read it slowly…carefully. Then: Peterson’s The Message highlights the extent of God’s love (and sometimes it helps to read all-too-familiar verses in unfamiliar phrasings).
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. –John 3:16 MSG
What does God’s extreme generosity mean for us?
It means we don’t need to hesitate in giving as much as He calls us to give. Sometimes the Holy Spirit compels me to give, say, $50, to His work. It’s difficult for me to reach into my purse and hand over that money. And if it’s $500? Whew! I debate with myself and God about whether I really need to give that much. Wouldn’t $30 do? Okay. Sometimes it’s just $5, and I still can’t give it joyfully.
God didn’t hold some
part of Jesus back.
But God gave fully. He didn’t hold some part of Jesus back. And He gave the best He had. That’s saying a lot from He who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Who am I, then, to withhold even the smallest portion of what He tells me to give?
With generosity, quantity is not the point. It’s the fullness of the gift, like the widow with two coins. Our giving is not centered on us as givers but rather on the Source of everything we have, the One who supplies all our needs, in part, so we can supply others.
God Gave Freely
Not only do we give because He gave, but also our motives must be like his. God gave without expectation of repayment. There is no possible way we could even begin to repay God for our physical lives, much less our eternal lives. And while He deserves to be glorified, that deserving is the result of Who He Is, not what He’s done for us.
…without expecting repayment from the receiver
Generosity that expects something in return is not generosity at all. It’s advance payment. Jesus said, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid” (Luke 14:12). The blessing comes, he continues, when you give to those who can never reimburse you.
…without considering the merit of the receiver
Generosity that’s based in what one deserves is not generosity either. It’s wages. We’re not surprised to receive what we deserve, and there’s no generosity involved in the giving of it. Jesus told a story (Matt 20:1-16) about a landowner who hired vineyard workers throughout the day. When it came time to pay the workers, he gave everyone a full day’s wages, even the ones who had only worked for a few hours. Was it just? No, not really. Was it generous? Absolutely (although the all-day workers didn’t think so).
Our generosity doesn’t
center on us or on the
receivers but on God.
With generosity, justice is not the point. Our giving is not centered on us as givers or on the receivers. It’s centered on God—on how He is glorified through our giving. And that’s how generosity is about the gospel.
Like God gives salvation to all who believe, we are called to give when and what He tells us to give regardless…
- of need
- of acceptableness
- of how much we like the person
- of what they will do with what we’ve given
- of the extent to which they deserve it
- of the amount of gratitude they will express
We Talk About What God Has Given
Authentic generosity can open the closed doors of people’s minds. It can break through long-standing walls of cynicism. It can soften dry, sun-baked hearts.
People are attracted to generous people. At first, it might be for what they can get, but they will quickly find the deeper reasons if we lead them toward it. Our generosity paves the way for conversations about Truth.
But even when we don’t get a chance to say anything, the gospel is still there. Generosity is always about the Gospel.
Have you considered God’s generosity? We would love to hear what you’ve thought or something you’ve heard on this topic. Please share in the comments below!