What is generosity? There are a few definitions but a good technical one I like is this – the virtue of one who is free from pretense or hypocrisy.
A non-technical one would be The way you handle your resources because you are secure in who you are.
Now let’s clear the air, can you be generous without following Christ? Yes, generosity is not a uniquely Christian talent. Generosity is the way you handle the resources you have because you are secure in who you are and what you have. If you have millions of dollars, you might be generous with money because you are secure in your finances. You might be generous with your time if you have nothing but time because you know you have plenty of it.
But that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about how Generosity allows us to put Jesus first. We are talking about generosity as a Spiritual Discipline. We are not talking about giving out of our abundance, we are talking about giving out of our security in who we are and who we belong to. We are talking about how we can be generous because we are seeking Christ and because Christ has redeemed us and all we have.
The focus of Christian generosity is Jesus and others. It is freely and lovingly giving away what we have with a glad heart so that Christ is honored, and others are blessed. I would also add that it is intentional and systematic. Generosity can be impulsive and spontaneous, but a generous person is intentional and systematic in the way they give.
I think 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is a great place to start when looking at what the Bible teaches on generosity. This week let’s take a little time to go through this section of Scripture verse by verse.
6 Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.
7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
9 As it is written:
He gave to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.
10 Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
11 You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.
12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.
13 They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service.
14 And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
Verse 6: Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.
If we give sparingly, we reap sparingly. If we give generously, we receive generously. Why? This is for two reasons. One that is just how it works. That is the system God has created, it is as real as gravity or magnetic attraction. To be generous is to live with an open hand. Two because generous people have shown God, they will give so they can be trusted with more. To be generous is to live with an open hand so things can go in and out of the hand.
Verse 7: Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.
This is where our technical definition comes in handy: the virtue of one who is free from pretense or hypocrisy. We give cheerfully because we want to, not from pretense. Pretense can be for fame, glory, or to get God to owe us. We give from our security in Christ.
Acts 4:32-37 talks about how some people in the early Church were selling things they did not need to give to those who were in need. This caused a man named Joseph to sell his field and give the money to the church. It was such a gift that the people called him Barnabas which means son of encouragement. Barnabas was secure in who he was and that the Gospel had redeemed everything, so he was able to do that amazing thing.
A couple named Ananias and Sapphira saw this and decided to sell their field and give some of the money to the church. The problem was they pretended to give all the money because they wanted notoriety. Their hearts and lives had not been redeemed by the Gospel. They gave from the wrong motives thinking God would have to honor that, but the Holy Spirit knows a liar when He sees one.
Verse 8: And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
When we give from a cheerful heart, secure in our identity in Christ, allowing the Gospel to redeem everything in our life, God gives us everything we need. Not everything we want, everything we need. God makes every grace overflow to you. The grace for your relationships, the grace for your job, the grace for your family, every grace you need God can and will make overflow. Sometimes the things we hold on to need to be let go and in that letting God we see God move in an area we did not realize was connected to the thing we let go.
Verse 9: As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.
This is saying that God freely scatters and gives, and we see that and understand that His righteousness endures forever. God is the most generous one. He is the most giving. He gives and He gives. He gives life. He gives breath. God gave the breath in your lungs. He freely chose to breathe life into us, mere mortals. But He also gives salvation through His Son that He freely gave for our sins.
John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.
Verse 10: Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
God gives the seed to the sower. You and I are the sower. God is the one who gives. God is the one who gives us what we need. Both for us and for others.
“The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.”
Basil the Great
What do we give? This is a very important point in our discussion about generosity. We are not just talking about money. We are not, not talking about money, but we are not just talking about money. We are talking about giving whatever we have for the sake of the kingdom. We are talking about allowing Jesus and the Gospel to redeem everything we have and then use it freely for His kingdom. We should be so free with our resources that it confuses people.
Time: Luke 2:36 talks about a woman named Anna who was a widow. Her husband died after 7 years of marriage. From that time on she spent her time at the temple worshipping and fasting and praying. She was probably doing this for about 60-61 years. 60-61 years she spent her days worshipping, fasting, and praying. She could have remarried; she could have done a lot of things but instead she chose to be generous with her time and give it all to God. She interceded for the nation, for the world, in prayer and fasting.
You might be busy; I get it we are all busy. In our connected, social media, cell phone-connected world we are all busy but as my wife says, “you choose your busy.” Ephesians 5:16 says, redeem the time for the days are evil.
Talents: Exodus 31:1-11
The Lord also spoke to Moses: 2 “Look, I have appointed by name Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft 4 to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every craft. 6 I have also selected Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be with him. I have put wisdom in the heart of every skilled artisan in order to make all that I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the testimony, the mercy seat that is on top of it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table with its utensils, the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 the specially woven garments, both the holy garments for the priest Aaron and the garments for his sons to serve as priests, 11 the anointing oil, and the fragrant incense for the sanctuary.
God gave these men the skill and the ability to do everything that was needed and they in turn used their gifts generously to make everything that was needed.
We are called to be generous with our talents. The talents we have are for God’s use. I know some amazingly talented people who give their talents generously for the Kingdom. I believe that everything God has called any church to do at any given time is available to them because of the people who make up that body. So, what talents or abilities has God given you that you can use for His kingdom?
God has given you talents to use for His Kingdom.
Money: David was called to build an altar to God and he comes to Araunah to buy his threshing floor. This man offered it to David.
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 2 Samuel 24:24
David knew that if he was going to give to God it had to be from his heart and his wallet.
When they were building the tabernacle, the order went out for people to bring what they could to build the house of God. At one point the people were bringing too much
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, Exodus 36:6
The people had to be restrained from bringing more. They were so grateful to have God in their midst they just brought what was needed. Where did they get all this? The Bible tells us that the Egyptians gave them gold, silver, and jewelry before they left Egypt. They were supplied with the needs and then God called for an offering.
In the church we take up tithes and offerings, but here is the thing. We do not tithe because 10% is a magic standard. 10% is an example, God does not want your 10% God wants your generous gift.
When my family first felt we needed to start giving we could not give 10%. Our finances had to be fixed, so we started with 2.5% (I think) and then worked up to 10%. If you cannot give 10% there is no condemnation. But the question is this: Is God, is the Gospel a factor and consideration in your finances? When you budget, does your budget include giving money to the work of God?
In all this, the point is not to earn Jesus’ presence or grace. It is to practice a spiritual discipline that says Jesus you are first. Jesus, you are my priority. Jesus, you have preeminence and authority over my time, talent, and resources.
Verse 11: You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.
God is the one who enriches us in every way. God enriches us in our generous giving of our time, talent, and resources in every way. This causes thanksgiving.
Verse 12: For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.
Generosity is twofold. One, it provides for the needs of others who thank God, and two it shows our thankfulness to God. He wants you to give in church and to others who need it. We also call this giving alms.
When you see someone in need and give you are not just giving money or time or talent you are giving grace and Jesus. You are dispensing grace in the name of Christ.
People respond to a gift given with thanks to God. In giving alms you are giving like Jesus and allowing others to see Christ.
Verse 13: They will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others through the proof provided by this service.
The generosity we have gives room for others to give God glory. It also proves our confession. If we say we believe the Gospel, that we confess Christ is Lord then generosity is a proof of that statement. We sometimes, and for good reason, get confused by James’s statement in James 2:17-18
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
James is simply saying that if you confess Jesus as Lord then there will be evidence of this. It does not happen all at once and it takes a lifetime to cultivate but little by little because you confess Christ as Lord and because He is changing you, we provide proof of our claim.
Verse 14: And they will have deep affection for you in their prayers on your behalf because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
Because of this the people then have “deep affection” for us in their prayers. It is not that we are buying the prayers of others, but it is that we have proven to them that we care and this moves them. Our giving shows the overflow of God’s grace in our lives.
It is a cyclical relationship. You see that people love you, care for you, and give to help you, so you are driven to pray earnestly for them.
Verse 15: Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
In all of this, it causes us to say, “THANK YOU JESUS FOR YOU!” The indescribable gift is Jesus who makes all this possible.
Just as we said in the beginning, the purpose of this is Jesus and to place Him first. The result of this is we the giver and the one who receives give glory to God for Jesus.
Just a Thought,