By David Faust
The economy dominates cable news and kitchen conversations these days. High gasoline prices and unemployment rates cause pain on Main Street, stir consternation on Wall Street, and spark worries in the White House. On a personal level, however, tough times provide an opportunity to exercise one of the most practical evidences of God’s grace: a generous heart.
Generosity is a two-way street. It brings blessings both to the donor and to the recipient. Jesus taught, “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), and, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Paul wrote, “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). An open hand holds more blessings than a clenched fist.
The Joys of Generosity
Proverbs chapter 11 enumerates some of the benefits of a generous heart.
Generosity reminds us what we should value most. “Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (v. 4). On Judgment Day our bank accounts won’t matter; it will only matter that the righteousness of Christ has erased our sin-debt. Money can’t buy salvation, but giving is a natural byproduct when we’re saved by grace.
Generosity is a component of true prosperity. Money can’t buy a good reputation. “A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth” (v. 16). “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty” (v. 24). “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (v. 28).
Generosity brings spiritual rewards. Wise investors store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), but in the meantime here on earth, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). Tax deductions benefit the bottom line, but generosity blesses the soul. It encourages others; it expresses gratitude to God; it allows the giver to participate in God’s work. If you’re generous, you don’t give till it hurts; you give until it feels good.
Generosity is a wise business practice. “People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell” (v. 26). Hoarding benefits no one, and nothing hurts the self more than selfishness. Wise is the business leader who consistently looks out for the interests of others. Blessed is the community whose leaders invest not only in their own fortunes, but also in their churches and children, their schools and neighborhoods.
The Generosity of God
Gracious givers support the work of the kingdom through their tithes and offerings, but giving isn’t just a way to pay the bills. First and foremost, it’s a way to reflect the glory of God.
God loves a cheerful giver because he is a cheerful giver. Someone has said, “You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” And we won’t imitate the Lord’s loving kindness unless we demonstrate generosity.
That’s why the Bible says, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:17, 18).
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
THELOOKOUT’s Bible Reading Plan for August 12, 2012
2 Timothy 1:1–7
Nehemiah 4, 5
2 Timothy 1:8–18
2 Timothy 2:1–13
2 Timothy 2:14–26
2 Timothy 3:1–9
2 Timothy 3:10–17