When we think about generosity, money typically comes to mind. Being generous with our “giving” is boiled down to fiscal terms, with numbers as the telltale indicator of who has outdone another. Yet, our tendency to dwell on numerical terms alone reveals a more general trend in the pursuit of a God-glorifying life: We are fearful to jump the ship of money.
Biblical generosity is rooted in a heart posture, not solely dependent on one’s resources
Aside from assumed contexts of poverty alleviation and giving to those who are poor, generosity demands more from us. Generosity begets that we are discerning stewards of the resources we have been given — which in and of themselves are a testament to God’s faithfulness and kindness. Generosity shows itself in the day-to-day items that seem menial, such as buying your neighbor’s coffee or offering up your place to meet, and in the more noticeable contributions, such as charitable donations to the family across the street or the individual without a home. Acts of generosity like these are not sown because of the pressure to “feel good” about oneself, but rather because of the radical transformation occurring within us, made manifest in knowing and savoring God.
Generosity cannot be defined by a specified amount or benchmark
In Arthur C. Brooks’ book “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism” (Basic Books, 2006), he notes how religiosity is one of the best predictors of generosity. It is likely no surprise that the “why” and “how” of giving are oftentimes closely linked, even if the “why” itself varies from person to person. Therefore, what separates (or ought to separate) the giver who feels compelled to give and the biblical model of generosity we see? The Bible takes care to note how the Lord is concerned with the state of the one who gives, as seen in verses such as 2 Corinthians 9:7, which states, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The disposition of our hearts in giving matters deeply. It is one thing to do something out of duty and another entirely to give out of delight.
What we do with our money reflects how we view our money and resources
The way Christians ought to approach money is not a shot in the dark; the Bible mentions money nearly 2,000 times, with practical and tangible lessons for how to handle it. So, why do we still cling so tightly to this commodity, knowing the commands we have been given to obey? It is no phenomenon to stockpile and hoard commodities we view as our own. After all, if something is mine or yours, it seems only fitting that we ought to do what we please with it. Yet, in adhering to this thought process, we miss the mark on God’s supremacy and ownership: All is God’s. The money in the bank belongs to God, not to our own passions and whims. This truth not only enables us to give freely and cheerfully but also brings freedom, knowing that we are not subject to money — or time or profession — as a master. We are enabled to live in such a radically generous way that what we do with our money is worship, brings glory to God, and serves others.
Individual generosity contributes to the church’s ability to serve and love others
Biblical generosity goes beyond a 10 percent tithe. It involves looking at everyday needs and lacks with the lens of Jesus’ ministry and service. I am not speaking naively — to say that generosity is the panacea to ending world poverty. However, I do assert that Christ-like generosity serves to meet the needs most visible and near to those in our spheres of influence. Moreover, generosity is a function of loving our neighbors and a result of viewing resources in light of eternity. As a new creation, and as followers of Jesus whose minds are being renewed daily, our call to live in lavish generosity is real.
May our aim in jumping the ship of money be that others might experience, know, taste, and see the goodness of the Lord in our generosity.