If you’ve grown up in church, you might take it for granted. If you haven’t grown up in church, you might wonder what this whole giving thing is all about. What is behind the heart of generosity and why is it essential to the church?
It doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Why would I just giveaway my hard-earned money and then to hear it’s not just a little, but the church wants 10% of it? Wait, I have debt, kids to feed, a car payment, a mortgage, and the list for many of us goes on and on. Why would God ask me to give to this church on a regular basis when I struggle to make ends meet?
Why would God ask me to give away a portion of money I’ve rightfully earned and worked hard for?
Perhaps, you’ve asked yourself these questions. Maybe you’ve wrestled with what happens after you give, perhaps you find yourself in financial setback after setback, or just simply curious on why we as a church choose to give each time we gather.
The reality is the concept of generosity doesn’t make much sense in our world. As a business school grad, one of the very first things I learned in Intro to Finance is that money is more valuable in my hands then it is anyone else’s. Why? Because I can invest it to make more money! So why then, each week, does the church ask me to give away money?
Why should a Christ follower live a generous life?
Jesus was not oblivious to these questions or concerns. In fact, when Jesus addresses anxiety in Matthew 6 he refers to those things which we need money to purchase to survive. As he says:
Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Now, I know upon reading that it might be easy to think: “Yeah, a lot easier said than done!”
How do I really stop being anxious when I have all these needs that must be met? Yet, what verse 32 says to us is key: “and your Heavenly Father knows you need them.” We often can feel that God doesn’t know we have the real needs we have. Our day-to-day anxiety is one of the biggest things that takes our focus off of God. This is why Jesus says in the previous verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Three Thoughts on Why We Give
● We Serve A Generous God
God did not withhold anything from us when he created. Following creation, he gave mankind dominion over the earth to rule. Everything that exists: the phone or tablet you read this on, the car you drive, the food you eat, all are here because of God’s creation. God liberally supplied the raw material for everything we see and use today. Yet his generosity, was not limited to physical resources, but extended to himself and within the Godhead.
He did not withhold when we needed a savior, rather the bible describes him as one who “gave” his only begotten son. So, we as believers live a generous life because He is generous.
● We Belong to A Generous Community
Generosity is evidence as fruit of heart change and commitment to follow Christ in community. Radical generosity marked the early church in Acts 4. As scripture tells us:
Acts 4:32-33 (NIV)
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. In fact, the text says that people even sold land and gave the proceeds to meet the needs of the church!
And what was the result of a generous church?...
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We give in a community so that the community of faith may be a witness to the gospel!
● We Live A Generous Life
Now unless we think this has no personal implications, the Bible is not without promise of impact when it comes to your own life. We find the lengthiest passage in scripture on generosity in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 9:7-11 NIV
6 “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
We give thanksgiving to God when we model a generous life! So, we freely lay down our possessions, for Christ, freely laid down his life!