“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35.
This week we have talked about tithing and about generosity. Living a generous life is not easy. Jesus set standard that we can’t hope to match. That’s because God is a giver. Generosity is a reflection of God’s nature. Human nature tends towards self-interest and self-preservation, and self-promotion, so we often don’t normally like to give to others. God’s nature, on the other hand, is to always be giving of his eternal resources to others. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”
In order to be a generous giver, we need to answer an important question. The question is not “where should I give” or “how much,” but “why do I give.” The answer is pretty straight forward.
We should be overwhelmed when we take a moment to reflect on the incredible generosity of God towards us. God is not reluctant to be generous, He’s not tight-fisted with his generosity, but rather Scripture tells us that He’s extravagant in His generosity. Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.”
Let’s look at the basics of being generous. Romans 12:13 says, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” What Paul is basically saying is that, you have to identify yourself with Christians in need. In other words, we make the needs of other Christians our own needs by asking ourselves some questions: How are they coping? What would I need if I were in their shoes? What would I do?”
The Philippian church took Paul’s needs to their hearts, and he wrote to them; “Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty. . . . Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. . . . At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:14, 16, 18). Paul saw their practical kindness to him as glorifying God. It was an offering that was pleasing to the Lord. Galatians 6:10 adds, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”
The simple definition of generosity is: using your God-given ability to help those in need and where your time, money, and talents come together to meet the needs of others.
- What is the most generous gift you have ever received? How did it make you feel?
- Americans are some of the wealthiest people in the world, but do you think Americans are generous with their wealth? Why or why not?
- What excuses do people sometimes make for not being more generous with their resources (time, money, and energy) toward others? What excuses have you made?
- Identify one practical way you can be more generous in the weeks ahead.