The Bible gives several simple principles for how to express generosity. For example, consider
1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income….”
First, from this we see that giving was to be regular – on the first day of the week, when church gathered to worship. Our challenge is to move from sporadic acts of generosity, such as during the Christmas season, to giving on a regular, consistent basis.
Second, we see that giving was to be proportional. We are instructed to set aside money “in keeping with [our] income,” meaning that you give a fixed percentage of what God has blessed you with. Thus if God gives you a lot, you give away a lot. If God gives you a little, you only give away a little.
Third, the Bible teaches that giving should be sacrificial. Jesus commended the widow who gave only two small copper coins to the temple treasury, compared to rich people who gave a great deal, because “she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:4). In 2 Corinthians 8:3-4 the apostle Paul commended the Macedonian Christians because “in the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” so that “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” Why is sacrificial giving commended? It increases our dependence on God. We experience the joy and privilege of seeing him provide. It’s an antidote to selfishness, causing us to re-evaluate what we spend on ourselves. It helps keep us from getting caught up in the materialism of our culture. And sacrificial generosity puts us in step with the heart of God himself, as demonstrated in the sacrificial giving of his Son Jesus Christ.
Where Should I Give?
People often ask where they should direct their generosity. It starts with your local church. That’s where you get nurtured and fed. When we’re pulling together toward a common mission, and pooling our resources, we can make an impact for Christ in our community.
When King Hezekiah was leading the nation of Israel out of idolatry, to be fully devoted to God again, 2 Chronicles 31:4-5 says: “He ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced….” The abundant generosity of the people allowed their spiritual leaders to be fully devoted to their ministry. 1 Corinthians 9:7-11 and 1 Timothy 5:17-18 extend this principle to the New Testament. God’s people should generously support the ministry of their own faith community, including its spiritual leaders.
After the local church, there are many other worthwhile ministries advancing God’s kingdom in your community and abroad which are worthy of your generosity. And while you make a regular commitment to your church, it reflects God’s heart when you give spontaneously above and beyond that wherever God opens a door of opportunity. God will use you to spread his resources and his blessing wherever you go.
An Expansive Heart
Generosity is ultimately not about amounts, but attitude. Someone can give a great deal and not be generous, or give only a small amount and be very generous. Often people imagine that if only they had more money, they would give more away. But in reality, if you aren’t generous with a little, you won’t be generous if you have a lot. It’s a heart issue. In American society, those who have the most money are less generous (as a percentage of their resources) than people of average or lower income. Be generous with what you have now, whatever it might be. Don’t be limited by a percentage. Live with the mindset to be as generous as you can, to bless as many people as you can, and to impact eternity in every dollar you can.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.