Generosity

 

You give generously to the church, to family and friends, to the community, to the poor and downtrodden, to those in mourning and those rejoicing. This list is just a poor start when it comes to how you give.

1.      Financial support

2.      Time

3.      Knowledge

4.      Labor

5.      Compassion

6.      Love

7.      Listening

8.      Patience

9.      Support

10.  Protection

11.  Prayers

12.  Assistance

13.  Acceptance

14.  Advice

15.  Advocacy

 

You don’t need to be asked to be generous, you just are. If you see a need you respond if you can. You have received freely and freely you give. Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. You know that the size of the gift is not necessarily measured in dollars. We need only read the story of the widows mite to know this is true.

*   (Mark 12:41-44 KJV)  And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. {42} And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. {43} And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: {44} For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

*   (Mark 12:42 NIV)  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

 

I have many Bible references about generosity that I will share with you. But first I want to read a few items from a secular article,  “The Generosity of America” from the January 2010 issue of Imprimus, a publication of Hillsdale College. (The article makes the point that Americans and Religious people in particular are the most generous people on earth by nearly any standard. Americans privately give 300 billion dollars a year plus an incredible amount of their time and love. The working poor tend to be the most generous when measured as a percentage of what they have.)

 

Now let’s here what the Bible has to say.

*   (Deu 15:7-11 NIV)  If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. {8} Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. {9} Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. {10} Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. {11} There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

*   (1 Chr 29:11-14 NIV)  Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. {12} Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. {13} Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. {14} "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

*   (Psa 37:21-27 NIV)  The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; {22} those the LORD blesses will inherit the land, but those he curses will be cut off. {23} If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; {24} though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. {25} I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. {26} They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed. {27} Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.

*   (Psa 112 NIV)  Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. {2} His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. {3} Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. {4} Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. {5} Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. {6} Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. {7} He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. {8} His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. {9} He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. {10} The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

*   (Prov 11:23-25 NIV)  The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath. {24} One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. {25} A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

*   (Prov 22:9 NIV)  A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

*   (Mat 20:1-16 NIV)  "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. {2} He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. {3} "About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. {4} He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' {5} So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. {6} About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' {7} "'Because no one has hired us,' they answered. "He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' {8} "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' {9} "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. {10} So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. {11} When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. {12} 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' {13} "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? {14} Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. {15} Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' {16} "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

*   (Acts 10:1-4 NIV)  At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. {2} He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. {3} One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!" {4} Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

*   (Rom 12:6-18 NIV)  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. {7} If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; {8} if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. {9} Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. {10} Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. {11} Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. {12} Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. {13} Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. {14} Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. {16} Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. {17} Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. {18} If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

*   (2 Cor 8:1-5 NIV)  And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. {2} Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. {3} For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, {4} they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. {5} And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

*   (2 Cor 9:4-15 NIV)  For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we--not to say anything about you--would be ashamed of having been so confident. {5} So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. {6} Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. {7} Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. {8} 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. {9} As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." {10} 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. {11} 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. {12} This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. {13} Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. {14} And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. {15} Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

*   (1 Tim 6:17-19 NIV)  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. {18} Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. {19} 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.

*   (Titus 3:4-7 NIV)  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, {5} he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, {6} whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, {7} so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

*   (James 1:5-8 NIV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. {6} But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. {7} That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; {8} he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

 

I am happy to be in the company of men and women such as you, Christians, followers of Jesus. Not hearers only but doers of the Word. We have given much and we still have much to give.

*   (Acts 20:35 NIV)  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.