The Missional Power of Generosity
If I were to ask you, “How much does the Bible talk on the subject of generosity,” what would your answer be? Just a little, a moderate amount, or a lot? If you went with either of those first two options, you’d be way off the mark. In fact, there are more verses on generosity, than on faith, hope and love combined.
And there’s a reason for that:
In the beginning … what?
Well, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and everything in between, and then … then He gave it all away.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31)
A pretty generous act, wouldn’t you agree? It turns out that generosity is in the very nature of God – more so than we may think. We of course think of Him as a loving God, but how often do we ever stop to think of Him as a generous God. The God who wants to bless us?
Blessed to Be a Blessing
To Abraham, the father of God’s chosen people, the Lord said:
I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2)
God’s intention has always been that His blessing in your life, should become a blessing in the lives of the people around you. If God is indeed the God of love, then as we watch Him in action, we discover that His generosity is in fact His love in action.
I was listening to a message from the pastor of my church recently, and he said something quite profound. He said that: you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.
Generosity of giving, as things turn out, is one of the powerful ways that God expresses His love. It makes sense when you think of it that way, doesn’t it?
These Three Things Remain
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13:13)
It seems to me that generosity is a combination of these three. The old mathematician in me wants to postulate that:
Generosity = Faith + Hope + Love
Because generosity always involves faith. Generosity is like planting a seed and hoping that something will grow. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. But as my pastor explained to us the other day, the principle of reaping as you sow, involves multiplication. Sow one kernel of corn, and you will reap thousands. But at the time of planting, it’s very much an act of faith. Yes, generosity definitely involves faith.
And it involves hope too, because there is always a lag time between sowing and reaping. When the farmer plants the corn in the dirt, there’s an agonising period where nothing happens. And then, when finally the little seedling sprouts, there are so many things that can go wrong between that green shoot, and the delivery of many cobs of corn. Yes, generosity definitely involves hope.
Sowing through a generous act of giving towards someone who doesn’t deserve it, someone who hasn’t earned it, someone who really deserves your scorn in fact, is a great act of love. That’s what the greatest act of love in all of history was all about. The Cross of Christ.
Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7,8)
Yes, generosity definitely involves love.
Generosity is Mission
Someone recently sent this priceless cartoon around on Facebook. Look at it closely … and you’ll no doubt fall off your chair laughing as I did.
How many Christians think that “mission” is beating somebody over the head with their Bible? As though somehow you can shove the truth down their throat and expect them to thank you for it. How many Christians think that by telling the world how far it’s strayed from God, they will bring people back to Him?
When all along, a simple act of generosity will speak of Christ’s love more powerfully than anything else!
There is a reason that generosity connects the love of God so powerfully with so many people. And that reason, is this.
God is a generous God. It is in His nature to bless generously. And each sinner on this earth – you and me included – has been created in God’s image.
Therefore, a simple act of generosity from us to someone who doesn’t know the love of Christ yet, is indeed an act of deep calling unto deep. It’s something that the Holy Spirit uses in such power to speak His truth in a way that you and I never could.
Yep. Anyway you look at it … generosity is mission.
The question for you and me is … So what ya goin’ to do about it?