Friday, November 15, 2013

Are You Generous?

Is it easier to be generous when you have money or when you are broke?  I’ve been on both ends of this spectrum.  There have been times I’ve wanted to give towards something but wasn’t able due to lack of funds and there have been other times I didn’t give toward something because I wanted to use the money towards something else.  I’ve also given when funds were extremely tight and when there was surplus.  Is giving more holy when money is tight or abundant?  Does generosity flow out of somewhere between poor and rich?  Generosity is one of the marks of a Christian and really flows out of the heart.

2 Corinthians 9:11 says, “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.”  Riches do mean money but should mean other resources as well.  Any riches we have are there so we can be generous at all times.  And being generous actually causes others to thank God.   Giving to a real need feels good.  But generosity isn’t about us feeling good that we gave.  It is about God being glorified and the recipients of the gift being encouraged and uplifted.  Scripture says we are to cloth ourselves with compassion because we are God’s chosen people who are holy and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12).  Generosity comes from compassion.  We are compassionate towards others causing us to give because God has so greatly loved and given to us. 

Another mark of generosity is the desire to give our time to others.  Sometimes giving money is not enough.  They need your time.  I’ve been in situations where giving money was the easy thing to do.  While the person needed money, time was most beneficial to their life.  It truly communicated your concern and compassion.  If I only give money when time is needed as well then I’m just throwing money at the situation.  1 Peter 4:10 tells me I should give my abilities and resources to serve others.  “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  Christians must remember that the gifts they have are to be used to serve others.  If there is a legitimate need and I have the gift, money, or time to meet it I must use that resource to fill it.
Romans 12:13 reminds us to, “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.”  

But what if someone takes advantage of your generosity?  Don’t worry about that - people will take advantage of you.  This shouldn’t stop you from practicing hospitality and generosity.  Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.”  This is openhanded generosity – giving freely, wisely, and generously to the needs of others.  “Casting your bread on the waters” seems like a waste.  Bread, after all, was meant to be eaten not thrown into the water.  This verse isn’t encouraging wasteful spending or foolishly helping the obvious crook or lazy bum.  We are to be wise with our money, not thoughtless or careless, so we can really help those truly in need.  The meaning here is to be willing to take a chance in order to be generous instead of withholding, which profits no one.  After you’ve investigated a matter needing your generosity, go ahead and give even if you aren’t 100% certain.  You won’t lose your reward but will find it again.  You’re storing up treasures in heaven any way which can never be stolen from you (Matthew 6:19-21).  

In the words of Jesus, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  God will reward you and protect you so just be generous and trust Him.  He will meet all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  Give and it will be given to you.  With the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Luke 6:38).  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).

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