The Benefits of Generosity
Have you heard the story of the guy who died and was being given a tour of heaven when he saw a friend drive by in a beautiful Mercedes? He said, “boy this is great!” St. Peter said, “oh yes, your friend was really generous on earth, we had a lot to work with. Your transportation up here depends on your generosity down there.” Then St. Peter gave him his transportation: a Honda motor scooter. The guy said, “wait a minute, he gets a Mercedes and I get a scooter?” St. Peter then said, “that’s right; it’s all we had to work with.” The guy drove away in a huff. A week later, St. Peter saw this guy all smiles and asked if he was feeling better now. The guy said, “yeah, I have ever since I saw my preacher go by on a skateboard.”
Now you can be certain that there is no biblical evidence that an attitude of generosity will get you a Mercedes to drive in heaven, but there is ample biblical evidence that developing an attitude of generosity will benefit us down here.
Psalm 112:5 NIV says, “God will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.”
Proverbs 22:9 NIV says, “A generous man will himself be blessed for he shares his food with the poor.”
2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV says, “You will be rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
What’s the Secret?
One of the happiest people I’ve ever known was Ben Gill. Ben was a church member of mine in Baltimore, MD. Ben was always happy and always giving. He gave money not only to the church and church causes, but always had time to help folks in need. One day I asked Ben the secret to his happiness. He said, “my life changed when I came to understand that the reason I didn’t have more in life was because God couldn’t trust me with what He had already blessed me with.” Ben discovered the more he gave to God, the more he received.
Understanding our Responsibilities
Ben helped me understand my responsibilities of giving and supporting the things of God. The first understanding is that we are responsible for giving our time. Each of us starts every week with a precious gift. We each have 168 hours to live that week. Now of that 168 hours we will sleep some, work some, spend time with family, spend some time working out and doing other things in life, and hopefully spend some of that time with the Lord in worship, in prayer, in study, and also in service. But did you ever stop to think that time is indeed a gift from God and that He is entitled to part of it? We talk about tithing on your income, but did you ever think that we should also be tithing on our time? Did you ever consider that tithing of our time would mean we should give the Lord 16.8 hours per week?
Another area that we should show generosity in giving is our talent. Think about this; we all possess some kind of talent or talents. Some people have a gift for problem solving, others can sing. The list of talents goes on, and on, and on, but none of us have all the talents. I believe that is God’s design. He created us to need each other and contribute ourselves toward His work. We have a great choir because people with great voices are willing to sing in worship to give God glory. We have great Sunday School programs and small groups because we have some really great teachers willing to use their talent to help God’s people learn. All of us can do something to help further the cause of our church.
No Talent is too Small in the Eyes of God
One of the greatest examples I can remember was Henry Barber who was saved in our church in Baltimore. Henry said he wanted to help the church, but frankly there wasn’t much he could do. There is one thing he could do well, and that was shine floors. So, Henry took it upon himself to shine our floors at the church. Within 2 weeks you could almost see your reflection in the floors. Visitors would comment on how clean the church was and how great the floors looked. Henry was using the talent that God had developed in him to bring God glory.
Impact the Future
The third area of life where we need to give generously is our touch. We can affect everything that we come into contact with, every institute and every person. Boy Scouts live by the phrase, “leave every place better than you found it.” We as Christians need to do the same. You can have an impact on future generations just by taking the time to touch and improve someone’s life. A name came to mind when I considered who affected millions of people just through his touch. The man’s name was Mentor Graham. Mentor was a country school teacher in Illinois in the 1800’s who probably never taught more than a dozen students at a time. He took a particular interest in one young man who came to live with him for 6 months in 1833. The young man was ignorant but had potential. By candlelight, Graham taught him to read from the Bible and led him to Jesus. He poured all he could into that young man. No one ever hears about Mentor Graham, but you sure hear a lot about that young man whose name was Abraham Lincoln. Millions of lives have been touched by Abraham Lincoln, but no one doubts that it was the touch of Mentor Graham that helped it to happen.
Tithes and Offerings
The fourth area that we are responsible for giving is our tithe and our offering. Malachi 3:10 NIV says, “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be enough room to store it.” Now folks, that’s a command and a promise. Notice it says bring, not think about bringing; or when you have it, bring it. It says bring. It goes on to say that if you do, you will be greatly blessed. Remember, Ben said the reason God couldn’t bless him with more was because he couldn’t trust him with what he had. Ben went on to explain you can’t out give God. Think about that. If you doubt it, try it. Try to out give God. I promise it won’t happen. Likewise, there are times in the life of a church when we are called to give over and above the tithe. In Exodus 35:4 NIV and following “this is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have… take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing to is to bring to the Lord an offering…” Notice that this is not the tithe because it says those who are willing. Every time God tells His people to build something, the offerings to accomplish that are always over and above the tithe. The tithe is for ministry. David said in 1 Chronicles 29:3, “Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for in the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for His holy temple.” David was giving over and above his tithe toward the building of God’s house. David had learned you can’t out give God.
What is Generosity?
Now when we are learning about generosity, there are 7 things we need to understand:
- Generosity is an attitude not an amount. Generosity is not sharing from abundance; it is sharing from what is available.
- Generosity draws us closer to God. Matthew 6:21 explains that where our treasure is our heart will be.
- Generosity makes life more enjoyable. Jesus said that He came so we might have life in abundance. You see tithing is not generosity, it is a necessity; over and above determines generosity. Remember abundance happens when we are living in accordance with God’s will for it.
- Generosity strengthens my faith. I have had many people tell me that once they learned to tithe, they always had enough. Sometimes they could not explain how, but they had enough.
- Generosity is an investment for eternity. 1 Timothy 6:18-19 NIV says that we are storing up treasure in heaven.
- Generosity gives one joy in life. 1 Chronicles 29:9 NIV says that the people rejoiced because they had given whole heartedly.
- Generosity blesses one in return. We love watching our loved ones open gifts on Christmas. The same should apply as we give the gift of money, time, talent, and touch every day.
The 5 Principles of Generosity
And finally, there are 5 principles of generosity:
- I understand He owns it all. It’s the old story that you will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse. It doesn’t work that way.
- Every day is an opportunity. What you can accomplish today, you may never have that opportunity again. The lives you can touch today may never appear again.
- Action is required. One must do more than think about it.
- Remember your blessings. Just remember what God has done for each of us even though we are not deserving.
- One is never more like God wants us to be than when we are giving. John 3:16 explains that God loved the world that He gave.
I have never seen a generous person who was unhappy. Develop an attitude of generosity, it will help make life worthwhile.