What is Generosity?

I love generous people! Don’t you? And my congregation has many such people, who share their homes, their time, their talents, and their money.

And God loves generous people, too, because generosity is a part of holiness. Our God is Himself a generous God, and we are commanded to “be holy because I (God) am holy” (1 Peter 1:16); thus, Christians need to be or become generous. Like all of us, God appreciates a warm, open-handed generosity in the heart of His children — doesn’t it warm your heart, when your kids are honestly generous toward you or others?

In fact, Paul taught the church in Philippi about how God viewed their generosity:

“Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:17-19)

Note how their generosity increased “profit” to their account. Jesus spoke of such things as storing up “…for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:20). And Paul noted how the generosity of the Philippian church was being taken as a “fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice” to God — and this, even though their generosity was being shown directly to Paul. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t exaggerating, when He said, “…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). Generosity to others really is generosity to the Lord Himself.

But did you know that there’s even a promise connected with generosity? Listen to what Jesus said:

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)

Paul echoes this promise in 2 Corinthians 9:8-11:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ‘HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.’ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.”

The principle seems to be that grace is met with even more grace, and generosity is met with even greater generosity.

But some may wonder, “What if I’m generous and God fails me?” Although there are several things that could be said to this question, the crucial question really is, “Was your gift a gift — or an investment?” A “gift” given with profit in mind is not really a gift, is it? That’s sort of the idea behind Jesus’ command,

“And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” (Luke 14:12-14)

“Giving” to the Lord should never be part of a money-making scheme, like the televangelists preach — such things become investments not gifts, markers rather than grace. Someone has well said, “No gift ever made any man the poorer” — but, of course, we all know that investments often do — and in more ways than one! Generosity should be a real gift.

1 Chronicles 29:1-18 tells a wonderful story of real and generous giving. It lists the lavishly generous gifts of David and the other leaders of his kingdom given to build the temple of God, making special note of both the willingness and generosity of people who loved and wanted to honor the Lord. In verse 18 David says, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this (generosity) forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You.” I would point out that “Your people” were indeed the Israelites at the time that David originally said this; but that definition has (through Jesus) now been widened to include you and me.

May, then, this continue to be true in us — that generosity be forever and always preserved in the intentions of our hearts.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
This entry was posted in Bible commentary, Christian Leadership, Christianity, New Testament, Old Testament and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What is Generosity?

  1. jhamilton says:

    What is it about Matthew 23:8-12 you don’t understand…I just visited your page…Jesus clearly said NOT to call yourself/anyone a Leader…there is no such person (except Christ) in the Body of Christ….

    • parklinscomb says:

      I assume you object to my description of myself as a minister? And yet Paul, the inspired apostle, lists a number of offices of leadership in the church: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” Ephesians 4:11, 12, NAS95. The Lord’s church does have leaders and Paul is listing some of them. What Jesus was proscribing was the wearing of titles, as in “Rabbi whatever” or “Father Joe”. The ultimate point Jesus was making was that titles puff men up, and I would humbly submit that you might have missed that point.
      People call me by my first name or Mr. Linscomb—never Minister Linscomb. To call myself a minister is to merely point out what I do full time, in the same way that someone might that they are a teacher at a high school, or are an engineer at a high tech firm, or a judge for the county.
      What were your thoughts about the article above the “about” section?

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