The concept of generosity has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps that’s because over the past month I have been reading through 2 Corinthians. In chapters 8 & 9 of that letter, the apostle Paul reminds the believers in Corinth of the importance of giving generously. Paul essentially says in that passage of Scripture that we as believers are to give willingly, cheerfully, and sacrificially.
Perhaps another reason this notion of generosity has struck a chord in my own heart recently is because of the Christmas season we have all just celebrated. After being a believer for 26 years, I am still in awe of how much God gave of himself so that we could experience a personal relationship with him. God didn’t just give a part of himself. Instead, he gave fully of himself when he came to this world as a man. In addition, the Christmas season also gave my family and I the opportunity to be the recipients of your profound generosity. We were astounded by the many wonderful gifts you blessed us with this Christmas season. My wife and I want to thank you from the depths of our hearts. We are grateful and honored to be serving in a place amongst such generous believers.
The most prominent reason I have been thinking more about generosity lately though is because of my own handsomely sweet sinful son. Over the past month Yadier’s new favorite word is “mine”. Whenever his sister starts to play with a toy, he likes to come over and take it away and tell her, “It’s mine!” He has even started using this word more with my wife and I. He sees everything as his own to be used whenever and wherever he wants. What he hasn’t learned yet is that if it wasn’t for the grace and generosity of his mother and I, he wouldn’t have toys to play with, nor would he have a place to enjoy them in. All of the things he has are because of the kindness and generosity of others.
Now because of our inherent sin nature, it’s natural for all children to go through this phase and learn similar lessons. What is unfortunate though is that as some people grow up they never outgrow this attitude of what’s mine is mine. People typically fall into one of two categories when it comes to generosity. They will look at their possessions and wealth as something that belongs solely to them, or they will see all that they have as a gift that has been given to them. The former will hold on dearly to what they have because they see it as something that they have earned or accumulated, while the latter give more generously because they recognize that what they have is all because of God’s grace and generosity.
It really comes down to a heart issue. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If we treasure things like money or material possessions then we will find it challenging to live generous lives. However, if our treasure is tied up in things of eternal significance, and if our hearts are truly turned over to God, then the things of this world will no longer seem as important as they once did.
As believers, we are called to live generously. We have been blessed in order to bless others. We must examine our own hearts and honestly evaluate where we have laid up our own treasures. A verse that has helped me to keep my heart in the right place over the years is James 1:17, which says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” Everything good that has been given to me in my life is squarely from God. I didn’t earn or receive it based upon my own merit or hard work. It’s all from God, and so therefore, it all really belongs to him. Everything…my finances, my possessions, even my wife and kids…are all gifts from God. What’s mine really isn’t mine after all. All of those things are God’s and he has entrusted me to be a good steward of that which he has blessed me with.
We believers often like to play a game where we divide up what belongs to God and what belongs to us. We give God a portion (a tenth-our tithe) of what he as given to us, and then we decide that the rest is for us. If we want live generous lives though…if we want to make sure that our hearts are in the right place…we must remember that everything in our lives belongs to him. We have the freedom to give joyfully to him and to others, because he has and will continue to provide for us out of his rich abundance. My hope and prayer is that it can be said for all of us what Paul says about the believers in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 8:3: For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord. May we all live generous lives, whereby we are willingly, cheerfully, and sacrificially giving to others according to our means and beyond!