Giving – The Secret to Joyful Living
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (ESV)
God is generous.
This may seem obvious to many of us but surprisingly a lot of folks don’t consider just how inconceivably generous our God truly is. For those believers, the idea of God’s generosity is often something like this: “if I beg God to help me, and if I’m good enough, He may show me a little mercy.” But nothing is further from the truth.
God was the first and most generous Giver
You see, God is the original author of generosity. He was the first to show the power of giving from love. And the second. And the third!
Every moment we are alive is a gift from our generous Creator. His undeservedly generous gift of love, His willingness to accept and forgive us even in our worst moments, and the generous future He promises those who place their trust in Him model the meaning of giving.
Yet God has done infinitely more. For a world irretrievably broken by its own failure, God gave the ultimate gift: Himself, through the personhood of His son: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)
God loved us – you and me and every human ever born and ever to be born – so much that He gave. He gave His Son for you and for me. This act of generosity began in His heart first. He loved, so He gave.
Once we truly understand God’s generosity in this selfless act of love, we can see it everywhere – in scripture and in life. In his letter to Titus, Paul reminds us of this generosity: “However, when God our Savior made His kindness and love for humanity appear,He saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain His approval. Instead, because of His mercy He saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal. God poured a generous amount of the Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6, GW)
Jesus sees the love in giving
There is a story from the Gospel of Matthew that highlights how Jesus viewed the importance of selfless giving. Jesus was in the home of some friends when a woman came in and poured a very expensive perfume over His head. Jesus’ friends and disciples immediately criticized this generosity and declared it wasteful. But Jesus saw it a different way.
“Why are you bothering the woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me.You’ll always have the destitute with you, but you’ll not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she was preparing me for burial. I tell all of you with certainty, wherever this gospel is proclaimed throughout the whole world, what she has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Matthew 26:10-13, ISV)
Her generosity was significant because of the value of her gift: it was a great sacrifice and it revealed the depth of her gratitude. And this gratitude changed her forever. Jesus taught us that this kind of generous gratitude and worship was to always be connected to His followers. His message was clear: We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving. Giving out of love changes us.
We become most like God when we are generous
Jesus once told His disciples, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: “they will know you are my disciples because you feed the poor or take care of the less fortunate.” Have you ever noticed how sometimes it’s easier for us to be generous to strangers than it is to those closest to us? Jesus taught us to love each other, and that includes everyone.
Yes, it’s important that we always provide those in need, but our love and generosity must extend beyond those who “deserve” it. If people have to deserve what we give, it’s not really generosity – it’s obligation. Jesus tells us to give freely to everyone, strangers and those closest to us alike. He expects us to show this generous love and grace to people despite their issues. A generous life can only truly begin when we understand where giving starts, and that is with love. Love empowers us toward the greatest heights of generosity. And that generosity changes us in ways we can never appreciate until it happens! Only then can we fulfill God’s desire for us to live a joyful life.
May God continuously lead your path.