I'll be the first to admit that it can be hard to have a nuanced conversation about generosity in a culture that measures almost everything, including God's blessing, in terms of material abundance.
I know I've been guilty of thinking that the most generous among us are those who have accumulated vast amounts of wealth and are now making plans to give it away. (A decision I respect a great deal, by the way.) But is that a holistic, biblical view of generosity? Is there more to it than that?
Could it be that the most generous among us are those who are making the biggest sacrifices so that those they love can flourish? They're not going to be praised for their philanthropy or have a building named after them, but the eulogies they'll receive from family and friends will certainly include words like, “She was the most generous person I've ever known.”
For the next few weeks I'd like to explore the topic of generosity with you. It will be a big picture look at what Scripture teaches about the subject. It's not intended to be exhaustive in any way. It would take years, if not a lifetime, to turn over every biblical reference that gets at what it means to be generous, and that's because generosity is about so much more than money: it's about what's going on in our hearts.
As Jesus made clear, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, the mind thinks, and the body acts. So generosity shows up not only in what we give but in how we live — in what we think, say, and do.
As a young person, I used to conflate generosity with tithing, only to realize that you can give 10% of your money away and still be incredibly selfish.
You can be the largest donor at your church and not be a generous person at home, around your spouse and kids. The harsh reality is that your charitable giving can be off the charts, and you can still be ungenerous towards your co-workers, family, and friends.
So let's shatter the stereotype that generosity is about writing big checks. For followers of Christ, generosity is about a life of self-giving made possible by grace. It flows out of a heart that has been transformed. And it encompasses our words, thoughts, and actions.What we do with our money is not unimportant, but it's not the whole story. And so often we think it is.