One of the key indicators of our followership of Christ and spiritual maturity is the generosity of our lives. A desire to generously step into other peoples situations and help them, a joyful heart in sharing with others what God has given us, the love of meeting others needs and generously giving back to God and His work what He has so lavishly given to us.
This way of life and generous heart is at complete odds with our consumer oriented culture which is about meeting my needs, my happiness, and my resources. Ironically, it is in giving away that we fully enjoy what God has given to us. It is also how we join Him in following His example of giving up everything for us (Philippians 2:5-11). The most joyful and satisfied among us are those who choose the rare path of living generously rather than living selfishly.
I love Paul’s words to Timothy on a life of generosity. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).”
This is not simply about money. Rather it is about generous hearts that love to “do good,” that are “rich in good deeds” and that are “generous and willing to share.” Generous hearts love to help others. They make generous time in their lives to be Jesus to those who need an encouraging word, a warm meal, a personal visit or a hand of help. That lifestyle and heart spills over to our possessions and resources – loving to share what we have and being generous in our giving. Not because we have to – we don’t – but because we want to mirror the generous heart of God and in doing so find freedom from selfish living. Generous living brings freedom while selfish living brings all manner of concerns because our focus is on ourselves and our stuff.
Read carefully these word on generosity from Paul to the Corinthians – who did not understand the concept very well. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).”
Generosity on our part results a generous response from God which gives us the ability to be even more generous with others – financially and otherwise. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).”
Many television preachers would want us to give so that we become rich. God invites us to lives of generosity because it reflects His heart. In fact, if wealth is the goal, one does not understand the gospel which places its confidence in God rather than in stuff. And, which is magnificently generous and trusts God to meet our needs. The result of Christ’s life was not wealth – in fact it was the opposite. It was a life of generosity to those who did not deserve it that transforms our lives until we become like Him with generous hearts and lives.
I want His heart. It will only come with following His example of a generous heart and life.The more generous I live, the more my heart becomes like His. It is a lifelong pursuit of learning to live like Him and overcoming the selfishness with which my lower nature pulls me. But it is a journey toward freedom and His character in me.