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….Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:24-25;28
There is a paradox in these few verses from Proverbs 11 in that we become richer (in every sense – not just relating to money!) by being generous. The world says to store up and hold onto as much as possible, but God blesses those who give freely of their possessions, time and energy.
There’s something about generosity isn’t there. It can often be surprising, even unexpected, but being on the receiving end of generosity is certainly a blessing. A few months ago I was sitting poolside as my son was having his weekly swimming lesson. I was chatting with one of the other parents who asked if I was interested in a membership to the pool and gym at the facility. They had won a two-year membership in a swim-a-thon competition and given they already had one, they had no need of it. I felt very blessed and grateful, even a little uncomfortable, to be given such a generous gift, particularly as they wouldn’t accept any money for it. The person could have kept that membership and it would have remained unused. However, by choosing to be generous and give, it opened up blessing to me and my family, as we can now use the pool and gym free of charge. It’s the same for us – there are things we have been given that we could keep to ourselves, however, choosing to give and be generous actually causes blessing to flow to others.
As Christians, I believe we are called to be a generous people – to give freely, to bless and to refresh others. After all, we have the most generous God, who time and time again has proved His generous nature, and who continues to freely give to us in abundance. Scripture is full of examples of His generous heart towards His people, and we need not look any further than the cross to see the ultimate picture of generosity, love and blessing.
Being a generous people is more than just something that relates to our finances. It also involves our time, energy, possessions, gifts – all the things God has given us to steward here on earth. Generosity is not something that just happens, it’s an attitude of the heart and something that needs to be cultivated, wherever we are at in life, and whether we feel we have lots, or little, to give.
When we choose to cultivate generosity, there are some characteristics and blessings that mark our lives as a result:
- Gratitude – when we realise the significance of the generosity shown to us by God and others, we become more thankful, both for the blessings we’ve received, but also for the opportunity and privilege it is to bless others (Eph 5:20; Col 3:16-17).
- Right Perspective – being generous helps us to realise that the possessions, gifts, and things God has given us were never really ours to begin with, but gifts to be used for His glory and to help others (Proverbs 11:24,28).
- Trust – being generous helps us to trust God, not just for provision of financial resources, but also for provision of strength, wisdom, favour and everything else we need to steward what He’s given us well (2 Cor 9:8).
- Humility – being generous helps us to look outside ourselves to see how we can be a blessing to others. It causes us to ‘count others more significant than ourselves’ (Phil 2:3)
There is a cost to generosity, but choosing to be a blessing to those around us is in fact following Christ’s example and walking in obedience to Him, as He said ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ (Acts 20:35).
My prayer is that we would be a people marked by generosity in every way – in speaking words of life and encouragement to others, in our attitudes towards those around us (even the waiters / check out staff who take too long!), in investing time and effort in people to see them come into all that God has for them, and in giving of our money and possessions as and when there is need. As we do this, perhaps we will even find that we experience greater freedom in our own lives from selfishness and being mastered by possessions, as well as point others toward God by displaying His heart of generosity.