“I want you to know about (the church at Philippi’s) generosity… Even while suffering in severe trials and extreme poverty, their lives have overflowed with joy because of their amazing generosity. I personally witnessed their giving not simply giving what they could afford. But giving even beyond their human ability! No one told them to do it. It was due to their own generous hearts. In fact they begged and pleaded for the privilege of giving to serve God’s people. And they gave in a way we did not expect: They first gave themselves to the Lord and then to us. That is what pleases God!” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
What exactly counts as generosity? Should generosity be the average Christian’s goal? Where is generosity at work in daily activities? How do we become generous? Answers to these questions might seem straightforward. Generosity is giving others something extra beyond what they are due. Ordinary Christians should be generous, relative to their means.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is the famous passage about how God loves a cheerful giver. In verses 10-12 Paul says, “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.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. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.”
What Paul is saying is that the material gift also has spiritual implications. Being materially generous to the ministry of Paul was also being spiritually generous to those to whom Paul and his team were ministering. It is still the same today. Generosity really is the gift that keeps on giving. It is important that we not only be materially generous to the ministries God is leading you to give to, but also to be spiritually generous.
Take a few minutes and take stock of your life. Specifically, document how much Christ has given you spiritually, how He has been gracious to you. Also take note of those who have been spiritually generous to you? How have they impacted your life? How has what they did encouraged you in your marriage or influenced the way you parent your kids? How have they helped you understand the gospel in deeper ways? Now consider how you could do some of the same things to bless others spiritually. Take what God is teaching you every day and share it with others.
Yes, we should strive to be materially generous, But let’s also work on being spiritually generous with the wealth that God has given to us.
- Do you tend to think in terms of spiritual generosity? Why or why not?
- What are some steps we can take to be more spiritually generous?