As Christians in a nation full of economic dissonance, we are constantly reminded to be generous. In church we are told that it is important for us to be generous and that we should give of our resources to help benefit others. But what does that mean? What does it mean to be generous? Generosity could mean tithing, running food drives, donating to a charity, or supporting a cause – and in this sense, being generous is good and it makes us feel good. All of this considered, as the church, we should really orient our focus on biblical generosity.
What does the bible say about being generous? Well, there is a lot there. Let’s start out with our call as Christians. Ephesians 5:1-2 instructs us saying,
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Now, if we are to be “imitators of God” and strive to live like Christ, then it is important that we follow Christ’s example of generosity and selflessness. In scripture, we find that it is not only important that we give, but also how we give. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that
“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.”
In this particular verse, Paul isn’t commanding us to give. In fact, he makes it clear that God desires us to want to be generous. True generosity isn’t achieved under compulsion – He doesn’t want or need a legion of robots. That isn’t loving nor is it truly generous. Rather, as we orient our hearts and minds towards Christ and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice he made, we should desire to be generous towards other people. This generosity is not limited to monetary items either. It also includes our time, our emotional support, our energy, and sometimes just our presence. We are called to be generous with all of our resources, whatever that means for us in our own contexts.
It is also important to re-emphasize that when we perform these acts of service they need to come from a place of love. Doing the right thing can be difficult, and when we value something, sharing it can sometimes be hard. It isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. Especially as college students where finances are particularly tight, it can be difficult to let go of resources that seemingly keep us afloat. In these moments, where I begin to cling tighter to my funds and resources, I think about how I perceive others.
Matthew 25:40 says,
“(…) ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you
did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you
did for me.”
So when I think about this verse, I begin to realize that when I interact with others, I should do things as if I were doing them for the Lord. It reminds me of the love the Lord has for us and how he sees his people. It also reminds me of his commandment in Matthew 22:39 to “love [our] neighbor[s] as ourselves.”
If we consider these things and our call as Christians to love God, serve others, and work for His glory through our words and actions, then we may have a better understanding of this biblical generosity. It won’t always be easy to give of ourselves, but it is possible to be a cheerful giver and wrestle with it from time to time. We must be mindful of when we are struggling and try to see people the way God sees them. If we can work as if we are doing things for God, then that is a great place to start. God sacrificed everything to bring His people back to Him. We aren’t asked to do that; it’s already been done. But, we can follow his model and give of ourselves to help others and bring Him glory through that.