Let me ask you a question, “Do you consider yourself to be a generous person?” If you are like most people, then you answered “Yes.” Maybe you feel generous because you give regularly to good causes, serve food to the homeless, or at times pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru. Perhaps you feel generous because you faithfully tithe 10% to your local church. All of these are good things to do, but are they good indicators of being a generous person?
The Bible provides some clear criteria for knowing whether you are a generous person and how you can become one. Here are some characteristics of true generosity:
True generosity gives the first to God. When you receive a paycheck or any other source of income, giving to the Lord should be your first and top priority. Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” Generous people recognize all they possess belongs to God, and so they give to Him their first and their best.
True generosity gives in proportion to your income. Jesus taught us this when He said, “…from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). A tithe, or 10% of your income, is a good starting point for determining the amount you give. But Jesus didn’t limit the amount to a particular number. We should give more or less in proportion to how much God blesses us with.
True generosity gives systematically. Generosity is not a feeling or simply giving a few bucks to someone as a random act of kindness. Being generous is a lifestyle. That’s what Paul is getting at when he writes to the church in Corinth, “On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up…” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Generous people give regularly in accordance with what they have decided ahead of time to do.
True generosity gives sacrificially. Jesus’ model for generosity was a widow who gave her last penny. One day Jesus was at the temple watching some wealthy people give their offering, but then a poor widow came to give only two small coins. He told His disciples, “This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:3-4). Generous people understand the amount sacrificed always supersedes amount given.
True generosity gives cheerfully. Generous people want to give as an act of worship in response to who God is and all that He’s done. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We should not give grudgingly out of guilt or obligation. Generosity is giving thoughtfully, voluntarily and with a joyful spirit.
God does not ask of us anything that He has not first done for us. The most famous verse in the Bible begins, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). God is the ultimate model for true generosity. You and I are made in the image of God and we are most like Him when we give. Together, let’s take our next step to becoming the generous person God has made us to be.
Take your next step to becoming the generous person God has called you to be by participating in an upcoming Legacy Journey class. Learn how to manage your wealth responsibly and share it to make an impact in the lives of the Kingdom of God for generations to come during this 7-week class.
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