You earn a living by what you make, but you earn the respect and gratitude of others and a legacy and reputation by what you give. In week 8 of the Don’t Eat Yellow Paint series, we talk about how the most giving people are the most appreciated people and how you can invest in others through your generosity.
Something To Talk About:
God gives us wealth so we can be generous. “Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” (2 Corinthians 9:11) Consider the following six ideas:
- I earn the gratitude of others: We can be the reason for someone else’s gratitude as long as we take action, however small. We know something can be done, because someone has done something for us. This is the gratitude-generosity loop—we are thankful for the generosity of God and people, and that thankfulness inspires our own compassion and generosity. And when we are generous we earn the gratitude of others. “How grateful I am and how I praise the Lord that you are helping me again.. It was so good that you helped me when I needed it…You Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I brought you the Good News… no other church did this…you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.. so I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me.” Philippians 4:10.14-16,18.
- I show what really matters most: To a young rich man, Jesus says: “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) When it comes to our time and resources, Jesus has an entirely different economy in mind. It is a matter of giving wisely. As a steward of God’s money, we are responsible to be generous, but exercise wisdom when we give. Don’t think you must donate to every need. You are not responsible to help each one of the hundreds of ministries you may hear about. Pray for wisdom, then make choices. Try to identify real needs. “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” (Philippians 1:10)
- I become more like Jesus: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”(Philippians 2:4-5) Generosity allows us to become more like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” Practicing generosity causes us to emulate Jesus. Jesus gave everything so that we can give something. Generosity moves our focus from ourselves to God’s Kingdom and allows us to be His instruments to bless others in ways we never imagined.
- I strengthen my faith: Every time you show generosity, you strengthen your faith. Why is that? Because when you take something and, instead of using it on yourself, you use it to help others, then you’re going to have to depend on God to help you. When you choose to help a friend who’s having a tough time paying his bills, you’re going to have to learn to trust God to provide for you. If you only have a certain amount of time to get stuff done, but you stop and instead use the time to help your neighbor, you have to trust God to expand the time and make it work so you can get your stuff done, too. Your faith is strengthened when you depend on God in those situations and trust Him. You choose to pray, instead of worry and expect God to take care of your needs. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” Giving is a test of my faith. And each time God has tested me, my faith has only become stronger and stronger as God provided faithfully.
- I invest in my eternal home Generosity is the investment vehicle of eternity. How are you doing with what God has entrusted to you? When you first choose to be generous, there is no joy in the decision. It is risky. It is scary. The joy is in the act of faith when you give. As generosity becomes a habit you will begin to see the joy will be front loaded as you discover opportunities for generosity. Our giving reflects God’s love to the world. When we give to God (and the things He cares about), we make Him known on earth and we store up treasures in heaven. We can give at all times and on all occasions because God supplies the resources for our generosity. “Command those who are rich in the things of this life not to be proud, but to place their hope, not in such an uncertain thing as riches, but in God, who generously gives us everything for our enjoyment.” ( 1 Timothy 6:17 GNT)
- I make God smile; When we are generous, God smiles because our heart is in the right place. Luke 12:34 says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” God will greatly bless our finances: “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” And God smiles because we are transferring wealth to heaven. “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
- Do you think that the way you currently view generosity is how God would want you to view it? Why or why not?
- Is generosity a tough subject for you? If so, why? Do you believe generosity contributes to true meaning and satisfaction in our own lives?
- Who in your life is someone that you would consider a generous person? How do you earn gratitude of others by being generous?
- Consider someone in your life today who would benefit from your generosity. How can you demonstrate generosity to that person today or this week?
- Giving is one of the “usual suspects” that culture points to in criticism of the church. What are some of the things that God ask us to do today that we or “the world” might find confusing or not making much sense? (some examples could include tithing, celibacy before marriage, going to church on Sunday morning, sharing our faith with our friends, fasting, etc.)
- We’ve all been given resources of time, money, and giftedness. In what area would you most like to grow in being more generous to others?
- How do we best determine between wise and unwise generosity?
- How can we be more like Jesus in our giving?
- The widow’s offering story is told in Mark 12: 41-44. The widow gave everything she had, making herself seem vulnerable. She gave everything she had. She made herself vulnerable.
- The widow demonstrated by faith because she ensured that she would have to walk by faith in the future as well.
Take one thing home with you:
How does 1 John 4:11 capture the heart of gift giving? “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” We should be generous because God is generous. That’s why our gifts need to be personal, meaningful, and sacrificial, wrapped in love, mercy, and grace. Because that’s how the Father gives.