The Joy of Generosity

Our recent posts have focused on how to make the most of our financial blessings.  We began by discussing the difference between ownership and stewardship, and we established the things we have and the abilities we use to earn them are God’s investment in us.

Last time, we explored some practical questions to ask ourselves about how we handle our finances.  If we take a little time to review our spending, giving, and saving habits and we trust God to help us make whatever adjustments we need to make, we’ll begin to enjoy a less stressful, more stable financial life.

In fact, if we follow God’s plan for our finances, we might just find, in the process of making better choices, we have more of a surplus than we ever thought possible.  I hope you look forward to that as much as I do because that’s when our financial freedom begins to get exciting.  When we have more than we need, we can start to make a difference for others.

More than a lack of debt, more than a sense of financial stability, even more than a sense of prosperity, a life of generosity ought to be our goal.

The world needs help, badly.

As a brief aside: a lot of politicians, from every side of the aisle, are arguing about how much the government should provide for the poor, the sick, and the needy.  Some think the government should help a lot, others think the government can’t afford it.  You know what I think?  I think the only reason the government even has to consider getting involved is that the Church forgot that we, not the government, were given that charge.

We are supposed to help the widowed, the orphan, the sick, and the needy, are we not?

There are a few reasons I am confident God expects us to be generous.

  1. He considers the good we do to others as though we’ve done it to Him.

In a very telling passage of Scripture, we see a very clear admonishment.

31  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Did you notice the glaring difference between the sheep and the goats?

Generosity.

Clearly, charity and kindness matter very much to God.  But, we shouldn’t think we ought to just because God said so.  His standards exist for a reason.  They aren’t arbitrary.

So, why else would he care?

  1. Generosity brings great joy to those who put it into practice.

I can’t begin to recount all the times the generosity of God’s people has changed the lives of countless millions of people.  Even in the smallest of ways, finding out your gift was the answer to someone else’s prayers is astonishingly satisfying.  Maybe even more so than receiving the answer to your prayers, which is amazing enough.

This week, find a simple way to go the extra mile for someone else.  If you can, do it quietly, so they don’t even know it was you.  Jesus warns us not to do our good works in front of me, looking for their praise.  You’ll be surprised how much fun it can be.  You’ll know, and God will know, and trust me — that’ll be enough.

Need another reason why we should be generous?  Alright, here’s one more.

  1. Christ set the ultimate example.

Think about how much He gave for us.  He left behind the splendor of Heaven.  He gave His time, His energy, and His life to minister to others.  He spent that time among the neediest, the sickliest, the most sinful.  Everywhere He went people drew on Him for strength, and healing, and hope, and He just kept giving.  All the way to the cross, where He suffered and sacrificed everything for you and me.

If we really want to claim to follow Christ, we’re going to need to follow His example, aren’t we?  Seek out opportunities, no matter how insignificant they might seem, to do something good for someone else.

If you look, you’ll find them, and if you make the most of every opportunity, you will share the joy and the love of Christ with a world that is desperate for His help, and you’ll be far richer for it.

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