The imperative of generosity

0416_giving-money_400x400-300x300Proverbs 22:9: He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

God is a generous God and does not expect less from us.

That was why Jesus said, “give and it shall be given unto you (Luke 6:38).”  Jesus practised generosity while he was on the earth. There was a purse in which money was kept by Jesus for the poor (John 12:4-8).

Paul admonished the Christian in Corinth of the imperative of generosity (1Corinthians 8-9), telling them that giving is like sowing and there will be returns on it, an harvest. And quoting Jesus, Paul said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” in a way echoing the words of the focus verse (Acts 20:35).

John, defining what love really means shows that if a fellow Christian comes to you saying he does not have what he needs for physical sustenance, you are not permitted to ignore that plea, don’t be blind to it, having a greater consideration for your convenience than to being a blessing (1John  3:16-18, James 2:15-16).

Our generosity starts with generosity towards God and the advancement of His kingdom.

We all need to be set free from selfishness, deliberately come out of our comforts zones to be all God wants us to be in the area of generosity, which is the way of continual blessing.

The Lord was generous to Adam and Eve and provided for them the abundance of the Garden of Eden, until they stopped being generous to God with their obedience (Genesis 3).

Jesus praised the generosity of the widow who gave two mites as offering in the temple (Mark 12:41-44), though the material she gave did not measure much in quantity, it was much in generosity, in quality; no one can argue against the fact that she had a generous heart.

Generosity from scriptures is the key to abundance. When the church in Philippi was generous to Paul, he said his God was going to supply all their needs (Philippians 4:13-19). They were not the lesser because they gave; rather they increased as a spiritual consequence of a heart of generosity. It is God who will set out to cause resources to flow towards you since you have acted to cause the same to flow towards others.

The change many need may be in the area of generosity, from you to others, while you are waiting for others to give you, why not activate that by giving others first? How sensitive are you to act on the divine prompting to give?

The widow of Zeraphath was tested in the area of generosity. There she was, in dire need but the answer to her need, the gate to her abundance was in opening up her heart in generosity to a stranger (1Kings 17:9-16).

To break the cycle of lack one may need to break the cycle of hoarding and self preservation when it comes to giving.  Get your eye set on the Lord and not to whatever you have, and then you will be able to give it away.

God notices the generous-hearted. For Cornelius, the first gentile believer (Acts 10:1-4), that was the thing that he got going for him. God send an angel to him saying that his generous almsgiving has not gone unnoticed by God. The generous soul, the liberal soul, the scriptures says shall be made fat and he that waters would in turn be watered (Proverbs 11:24-28).

David was also a generous man. After years of being king, he wanted to extend kindness to someone in the household of Saul, his protagonist, for the sake of Jonathan (2Samuel 9). Both Jonathan and Saul were dead but his heart of generosity would not allow him to just rest at that, he looked for excuses to give, but some people look for excuses not to give.

David was told there was a Mephibosheth who was of the house of Jonathan, though lame on both legs. The generosity of flowed towards him. Now you know that Mephibosheth was practically useless to David. He can’t go to war; he can’t help David to deal with the enemies of Israel. He doesn’t need him to increase his wealth.

For David it was not about what you would get from the act of generosity, or else it would be a generosity that stinks with the odour of selfishness. He seeks to bring benefit to others because of his heart of generosity.

Jesus, while as a guest in the house one of the Pharisees, noticed how the whole “hosting a party culture” was about inviting those who can in turn invite you, who can pay you back. Is that not what many gift giving is about (Luke 14:12-14)? We think: what does this add to me in prestige, will I be in this person’s good book so that somehow I can get favour from him/her? Those are wrong motives which show your giving is mere manipulation of others, though subtly.

They are acts that reveal that we have our eyes set on man and not on God; these are not acts of faith. And the bible says that whatever is not done in faith is a sin (Romans 14:23), and you cannot continue in sin and expect that God’s grace including his grace of abundance to abound (Romans 6:1-2). The bible says there is something wrong about giving to the rich (Proverbs 22:16), I believe especially if your motive is unbiblical. We should focus on God as our source and our giving as an expression of his presence in our life, not an expression of our cunning.

Jesus Christ, to emphasise the importance of a pure motive when it come to our giving, said that what we give we should not allow our right hand to know what our left hand is doing (Matthew 6:1-4). And that the God who sees us in secret, will reward us openly. There are rewards for being generous and it comes from God. And we need to set our eyes on things of heaven even as we distribute to others (Colossians 3:1-4).

Jesus said that what we do to his people, we do them by proxy to him (Matthew 25:31-46). We need to be generous with our time and visit the orphan and the widow (James 1:27), provide for their needs; be generous with our shelter and be given to hospitality (Romans 12:13, 1Timothy 3:2); be generous with your words, be a blessing to others as you lead them to Christ encourage them and life up the soul; be generous with your gifting as you impact the lives of others through the call of God on your life.

Going back to David; he had the intention to build a house for God. And though God said he wasn’t going to build it, he made a lot of provision for it (1Chronicles 22:5-19, 29:1-10). For him it wasn’t about an achievement or to garner accolades, and it wasn’t showmanship.

It would not be said that he built a temple, but he contributed significantly. And he provoked others with his generosity.

It is the generosity of God towards us that provokes us to be likewise generous. He is generous towards us in his mercy and forgiveness, in like manner we are to be generous to others in forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32), as it written, blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7).

 

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