Perhaps, like me, you wonder if it’s possible to be generous when finances are tight.
I’ve wrestled with this question, since it can feel like my family doesn’t have “wiggle room” for spontaneous financial gifts. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of needs around us—an ailing saint, a new baby, a financial crisis—and in my discouragement over finances, pride has taken root.
It’s a pride that says, “It has to be us who meet such-and-such a need.” Pride that doubts God’s goodness and ability to provide for all our needs. Pride that asserts my natural desire for independence and control, rather than a humble submission to what he’s allotted for us.
The Lord has humbled me with a simple reminder: Generosity comes in many shapes and sizes.
Generosity is the overflow of a humble heart—an attitude, not a one-size-fits-all act. If it were only about money, many of us would be disqualified from exercising it. But since God has called all his people to generosity of spirit, there’s more to it than meets the eye:
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. . . . They will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them . . . because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. (2 Corinthians 9:8, 13–14)
Paul is exhorting the church at Corinth to give cheerfully to their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. He encourages them that no gift ultimately comes from their striving or efforts or resources, but rather from their sufficient God, the Creator and Provider of all. He alone “is able to make all grace abound” to them for the purpose of generosity. And Paul says this grace fuels “every good work”—not only monetary giving, but works of many shapes and sizes.
God’s infinite grace fuels generosity, which fuels the glorification of God and his gospel. So generous giving, of any type in any context, isn’t ultimately about us or the needs we’re meeting (how freeing!), but about God’s honor and the proclamation of his good news.
Knowing God’s grace fuels our generosity and makes us sufficient “in all things at all times,” what are some ways we might practice it? What are the “all things” and “all times” our giving might apply to?
1. INVEST YOUR TIME.
“Time is money,” they say. It’s a limited commodity and, therefore, has intrinsic value. Any use of time during our earthly days is an investment, and what we invest in reveals what’s important to us. When you give your time to others, you invest in their eternal good and practice generosity in a significant, hands-on way.
- Listen well to a hurting friend and point her to the Word.
- Commit to small group each week and contribute to conversation and prayer.
- Interact with an unbeliever at the park and invite him to church.
- Choose to focus on your kids, setting aside other duties and work.
Generosity means investing your time, which glorifies God and his gospel.
2. LEVERAGE YOUR WORK.
Most people spend the majority of their lives working, whether in the home, in an office, or with a trade. We have a huge opportunity, then, to practice generosity in how we spend our working hours and steward our skill sets:
- When you’re diligent with your schedule, and you maximize your effectiveness as a result, you’re being generous to your employer.
- When you train someone in your realm of expertise with a cheerful spirit, not begrudgingly, you’re exercising generosity.
- When you labor to raise up the next generation, whether kids, students, or successors, or when you share your skill set with others, you’re being generous.
Generosity means leveraging your work, which glorifies God and his gospel.
3. EXTEND YOUR SERVICE.
Practical help through acts of service meets the needs of struggling people. Rather than saying to someone, “Let me know how I can help you,” we take initiative and we help. Usually, overwhelmed and hurting people don’t know how you can help them and won’t make requests of you, so you can practice generosity by simply doing something to ease their burden.
- Set up a meal service for a new mom and dad.
- Help an overwhelmed family by cleaning their house and running errands.
- Visit a sick brother or sister in Christ at the hospital.
- Pray for various needs within and outside your church.
Generosity means extending your service, which glorifies God and his gospel.
4. SHARE YOUR POSSESSIONS.
What do we have that we did not receive from God (1 Corinthians 4:7)? He owns everything we possess, from our stuff to our very lives. We’re managers of what he’s entrusted to us, and we will bless others when we cheerfully share our possessions with them.
- Share your home. Open your doors to friends and strangers, adults and children, believers and unbelievers.
- Share your car. Give someone a ride who needs it, or if you’re able, loan them a car.
- Share your food. Invite people for meals, give them a break, and nourish them.
Generosity means sharing your possessions, which glorifies God and his gospel.
FREED TO GIVE
Friends, God is able to make all grace abound to us, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, we may abound in every good work. We’re free to be generous because he has provided, and will provide, all we need. And in this freedom, our generosity takes on many forms as we contribute to the needs he has sovereignly placed around us.
May our hearts overflow with humble, creative generosity because God in Christ has first been generous to us.
Editor's Note: This originally published at The Gospel Coalition and again at Kristen's website.