It’s the most generous time of the year. For many people Christmas time is a time to be generous with family, friends and even strangers. It’s also the end of the year and people are thinking of year end giving. I want to talk about generosity and what that really means.
As a follower of Jesus one of my desires is to be known as a generous person. Jesus was very generous with his time, talent and treasure. He taught many life-changing messages and stories about being generous. He even gave his life for our sins.
Generosity is demonstrating the nature of God by wisely reinvesting the resources that He has entrusted to us. There are several key traits that go into making someone generous. Without these in our lives we cannot be truly generous.
- Loving – It is not possible to have love without generosity, but it is possible to have generosity without love. If you have the love of Christ in you, then generosity should flow out of you. It should be a part of your nature to be generous and look for ways to give and serve others. 1 John 3:17 says “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
- Sowing – Generosity follows the law of the harvest. The more generous we are in sowing, the greater will be our harvest in true riches. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
- Honoring – Honor means “to place value upon.” We are instructed in Ephesians 6:12 to honor our parents. We honor civil authorities by paying taxes and following laws. When we give to the poor, we honor the Lord and He promises to repay. Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Generosity is not just giving, it is giving abundantly or joyfully.
- Grace – It is through God’s grace that we are able to give and be generous, and that giving is an expression of the grace we have in Christ Jesus.
- Stewardship – A steward is one who is entrusted with the assets of the master and is responsible to make wise investments with them. A wise steward understands that the assets he has under his control do not belong to him and should be returned to the master with increase. We are stewards of all the people, possessions, abilities and talents that God has blessed us with.
Generosity brings light into a dark world. It makes people smile and feel good. Generosity also draws us closer to God because it’s when we are most like Him. Giving also reminds us that God owns it all and that He is the one that can give us more or take it all away. Being generous also breaks the bondage of greed and overcomes the love of money.
Here are some simple steps to help you be more generous:
- Dedicate everything to God – This includes all your money, time, possessions, strength, abilities, and relationships. Truly acknowledge that God owns it all. That takes a lot of pressure off of us.
- Practice living simply – Try to simplify your life. This could mean selling or giving away some of your stuff. It might mean giving up some luxury items so that you can live at or below your income. It may mean saying no to some things in order to say yes to being more generous.
- Give as God directs – The goal of generosity is to demonstrate the love of God so that others will be drawn to Him. Start being generous by doing random acts of kindness. You can also start giving to your local church. Consider giving a percentage of your income. Start giving your time by volunteering at your church, in the community or at a non-profit.
So how generous are you? Do you see God as the provider of all wealth? Do you see yourself as a steward of God’s resources? Do you honor God with a generous portion of all His increase in your life? Are you living as frugally as you can so you have more to invest in God?
Generosity is the result of focusing on God’s riches rather than our resources. CS Lewis said this “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
Ask God for opportunities to be generous and see what happens.
Most people want to be generous and help those in need. The reality is most people do not give much. Most people also understand that’s it’s important to save money. The reality is most people don’t save much money either. So what’s the problem? Part of it may be understanding the world better. Also part of it is not having a plan.
Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel in Ft Lauderdale gave this example of putting the people of the world into perspective. Let’s look at the world as made up of just 100 people:
- 70 of them don’t know Jesus. 30 do.
- 30 are white. 70 are some other color.
- 51 are women, 49 are men.
- 80 live in substandard housing, meaning they have no electricity, running water, inside plumbing or a roof over their head.
- 50 are malnourished. Their food is not satisfying, not enough and doesn’t provide proper nutrition.
- 70 can’t read.
- 1 is dying as you read this-a little kid under the age of 10. He’s dying because he can’t get enough to eat.
- 6 have a significant portion of the world’s wealth.
- 6 live in the United States.
- What if you’re the dad of the kid who’s dying of malnourishment? Wouldn’t you be asking one of the 6 wealthy to share a little for your child? Unfortunately, the answer all too often is: there’s other things to do with our money, new things to buy.
Most Americans spend their money this way:
- 24% on housing
- 19% on health care
- 22% on recreation and personal needs
- 15% for food
- 17% for transportation
- Leaving 3% for other such as giving or saving
Most people want to make a difference but are either too far in debt to be generous or have good intentions but don’t plan in advance to be generous or even to save.
So here are some tips on how you can Save more and Give more:
- Save second and Give to God first. When we give first, then save some we don’t spend money on those unimportant things that we don’t think about. The fancy coffee, the extra soda, the fast food.
- Use an automatic transfer at your bank. Transfer money out of your checking account into a savings account after every paycheck. You can also set up automatic giving to your church either through your bank or through your church.
- Be consistent. If you save money every other week for a year it adds up quickly, same goes for giving. If you give consistently every week and not just when your in church you end up being more generous.
- You might want to have multiple savings accounts you transfer money into. One should be an emergency account, another could be to purchase your next vehicle or other large item and another could be for a down payment on a house.
- You might even set up a saving account at a different bank to make it harder to get to and more out of mind. When you don’t see the money in your checking account or in your wallet you won’t spend it.
- When you get a raise or a bonus put that money in savings, give some away or pay off debt.
- Pray about saving and giving. Ask God to give you wisdom with your finances and guidance on how to spend what He has entrusted to you.
- When an opportunity to give comes along if you’ve been saving money you can pull from your savings and give and not have to take money out of your budget.
- Plan in advance where you want to give each year. Give to your local church first. I recommend 10% of your gross income as a target. Then plan what other non-profits you have a heart for and what you would like to give to them for the year. Then plan to use money from savings or budget to give to things that come up that you would like to support like girl scouts, youth group, pizza fund raisers etc.
- When you payoff debt add that extra money to your savings and give some away. Or if you are able to save some money on expenses increase your giving or your saving.
Being generous feels good and helps make the world a better place. Saving is a healthy practice and helps you to be more generous. Start today by choosing a couple of these tips and put them into practice.