“It takes generosity to discover the whole through others. If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”
Many of the truths of Jesus’s teachings are rooted in the paradoxical reality that our quality of life is directly connected to our generosity.
Luke 6:37–38 says:
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Jesus says here that our experiences of judgment, of forgiveness, and of receiving are directly tied to our generosity. Somehow, when we freely give away our time, talent, and treasure, we position ourselves to receive more freely.
In relationships, when we’re willing to be generous with our time, generous with our vulnerability, generous with our words, and generous with our assumptions, we find that opens the path for others to reciprocate.
Scripture also speaks directly to the reciprocal effects of generosity as it relates to our finances and resources:
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Proverbs 11:24–25)
If we desire to grow in living intentionally, generosity is a large part of life that simply cannot be ignored. The Bible speaks so clearly to how generosity affects our wellbeing and needs to be explored.
The Nature of Our Generosity
To be clear, the joy of generosity does not come from expectation of what we’ll get in return. And the worth of our generosity isn’t linked to the number of earthly resources we have and are therefore able to give away.
God does not need one bit of our resources. Every resource is his. As in all things with God, the main point of generosity is not the possession, but the heart of the giver.
God cares about the nature of how we view our treasure because he cares about the affinity of our hearts:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt: 6:21).
God knows the hold our resources can have on us. He knows the toll it takes when we hoard that which he’s given us. Because when we hoard our resources in this life, we miss the entirety of the point of why we’re here.
This world is not our home. This life—while beautiful and wonderful and filled with the possibility of relationships and meaningful experiences—pales in comparison to what eternity holds for us.
We have been given through relationship with an eternal God an eternal opportunity to live without fear of lack now. We’re invited to say yes to an eternal mindset now and to experience the heavenly joy of God’s economy where all is given by grace.
A beautiful picture of God’s view of generosity is found in the experience of Jesus with a widow in Mark 12:41–44:
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
In God’s economy, the nature of our generosity is not defined by how much we give, but by how much we have left.
If you’re hoping to grow in intentional generosity this year, here are some helpful ways you can build generosity into your life:
- Plan your generosity with your family.
It’s easier and more joyful to engage in generosity with others around you doing the same. Whether it’s creating room for your time, talents, or treasure, it’s immensely helpful to do that in agreement with your family.
- Have a weekly holistic budget meeting.
Don’t just review your finances; determine how you’re spending your time and energy as well. Taking an honest look at your past week, celebrating the victories of intentionality, and acknowledging with grace areas of improvement is a helpful catalyst for generosity and intentionality in the week to come.
- Do an annual study of generosity.
There are lots of great resources, conferences, and guides for generosity. Studying stewardship, giving, and best practices can serve as a great reminder and help you find the highest impact for your “yes” to be generous.
This is an excerpt from Craig Denison’s upcoming book, Living Intentionally: Finding Meaning with a Modern Rule of Life, which releases on March 1st. Pre-order your copy today!