In Philippians 4:18, Paul wrote, “I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.” In return for their generosity, Paul promised these generous Christians that God would meet all their needs “according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (v. 19). We often view this Scripture in the context of finances—God will supply all the funds needed, when we need them. However, God’s generosity goes far beyond financial blessing.
God’s Extravagant Love
Probably the most familiar verse in the Bible sets the stage for God’s generosity. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As a father, I love my kids. I would do almost anything for them, but I wouldn’t sacrifice one of their lives for someone else. However, God’s generosity is selfless and fully exhibited in his love for humanity through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.
Every time we see—or think of—the cross, we should meditate on his generosity toward each of us. As Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Now that’s generosity at its most powerful and compelling.
The Earth and Heavens
For most of us, life is busy. We are busy at work, busy at home, busy with kids, and busy with church. That busyness rarely provides us an opportunity to stop and look at the earth and Heavens to see just how generous God is toward us. The Bible states that the whole of creation declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). It also demonstrates his generosity. Consider the following:
- There at least 25,000 varieties of orchids. The orchid is just one of 400,000 species of flowers.
- Genesis 1:16 tells us that God spoke the stars into being. Did you know that our galaxy contains about 100 billion stars similar to our sun? Yet our galaxy is only one of 100 billion known galaxies.
- Genesis 1:3-24 states that God created a perfect world for us to inhabit, and verse 29 tells of God’s first provision of nourishment.
- Throughout the earth, God made seas and mountains and rivers. He also created at least 750,000 species of insects, 400,000 species of flowers, 200,000 species of edible plants, and 10,000 species of birds.
Psalm 8:3, 4 states, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (English Standard Version). The goodness and generosity of God toward us as seen in creation are overwhelming!
Generosity Toward Humanity
When God created the perfect environment for Adam and Eve to live in, he also gave them his very best—his presence. This illustrates our heavenly Father’s generosity toward all of his children!
Even though God’s first couple was generously provided for, they still sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. Did God abandon them? Did he determine to kill them? No. Even though there were crushing consequences for their actions, including the fact that the earth itself was now cursed, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” before he sent them out of the garden (Genesis 3:21, NIV). Consider that God sacrificed from the animal kingdom to provide for Adam and Eve. This was a foreshadowing of the animal sacrifices that God would require under the law, but even more importantly, it foreshadowed the ultimate in God’s generosity: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as provision for all humanity.
Jesus’ Mandate on Earth
Luke 4 tells of Jesus’ return to Galilee from the wilderness “in the power of the Spirit” (v. 14). At a local synagogue, Jesus read from Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to . . . proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (vv. 1, 2).
Jesus knew what God had mandated for him to do, and he fulfilled his mission perfectly. He generously gave of himself by: 1) proclaiming the good news of the gospel—that salvation comes to all who believe in him, 2) providing freedom from the snares of the evil one and opening the eyes of the spiritually—and physically—blind, 3) providing emotional and spiritual freedom from oppression, and 4) letting humanity know that God doesn’t hold sin against his people but offers his favor and blessing to all those who trust in his Son.
When God created male and female in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), he showed his generosity toward all humanity by imparting to them his characteristics. When sin entered the world, so did selfishness, greed, and pride. However, for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Bible states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse tells us that the ability to be generous, among many other godly characteristics, has been restored to us. When we consider all that God has provided and all that he has done for us, how can we not follow in his footsteps and be generous?
So how can we extend generosity?
- Stewardship. The first step in being generous is realizing that God calls us to be stewards. A steward wisely uses all that he is entrusted with for his master’s benefit. As Christians, we must remember that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). We must look at all that we have and do with it according to biblical principles and God’s plans for each of us individually.
- Forgiveness. We all need forgiveness every day—from God and from each other. Paul reminds us to forgive one another “just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Freely forgiving one another is a display of sacrificial generosity.
- Financial gifts. We can be generous by giving our tithes and offerings (see Malachi 3:10-12), by giving to the poor and needy (see Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 5:42), and by contributing to the lives and work of missionaries (see Philippians 4:18,19). And there is a right way to give. Jesus tells us, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” (Matthew 6:2, ESV).
In Luke 12:34, Jesus proclaimed, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Our greatest treasure is God himself, and we would do well to show him we believe this to be true by maintaining a heart of generosity. In return, God will generously pour out his blessings in our lives.
Simon Presland is a freelance writer and publisher (www.authorsourcemedia.com) in Clinton Township, Michigan.