Generosity: Consistent Giving

Growing up in a low-income family taught me to be careful with money. I had a lot of respect for money because it was so difficult to get. When I was ten years old, I was earning $2 for each hour of work. It was a struggle to save money because I could only do chores around the house to make money, and the rate was meagre. However, I managed to save several hundred dollars, which I used to buy large Lego sets!

As I grew older, I continued to focus on myself. I carefully saved money again, but by the time I turned nineteen, I lost all my savings. It was when I had no money and rent to pay that I hit rock bottom. I had been relying on my strength to provide up until this point. I was nineteen with nothing to my name and in a bad financial state. I had to change my mindset.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 says ‘As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

I was ‘setting my hope on the uncertainty of riches’, which didn’t pay off. It is in generosity that treasure is stored up in heaven and a future secured. Thankfully, the story gets better. I learned to start being generous in small ways. With time I got better and faithful to His word, God provided a fantastic job and working arrangement, which paid more than double what I was earning beforehand! A life of generosity is the best life to live.

Generosity: Consistently Tithing

It was when I had been a student of generosity for some time and had started to give more frequently at church and more consistently with friends and family. I thought I had finished learning what generosity was. I was a good guy now and genuinely enjoyed being generous. I had started to live life with a purpose greater than myself, so I no longer existed to please myself and immerse myself in fun and entertainment. I recognised that I was a part of something bigger.

However, although I was starting to grasp some of the basic concepts of generosity, I hadn’t matured much in the way of Godly giving because there was no strict consistency. I didn’t know how much I was giving, but it didn’t matter to me. I thought that as long as I give a lot, it doesn’t matter how often I give and certainly didn’t matter at what time I gave. I was wrong. A pastor gently pointed out to me that it isn’t so much about the amount I give as much as the heart behind the gift. Was I giving to ‘get it out the way’ for a while? Was I a dependable giver? After examining my motives, I found that my heart was not in the right place.

I needed to decide on how I continued to give. Was I going to remain in a method of giving without structure? Would I apply discipline to generosity? I decided to try giving in the way suggested by the kind pastor. He told me to set aside a percentage of each paycheque, rather than trying to give a specific dollar amount. He also recommended setting aside the percentage for giving before spending money on ANYTHING. Setting aside a percentage of each pay shows that you are disciplined and don’t take God for granted. You are the real deal. Giving immediately or setting aside the amount to give at a convenient time before paying for any bills tells your heart that God is the priority. You could give God 100% of all your leftovers, but what does that matter? 10% of your best means far more than 100% of what you don’t use.

Malachi 3:8-10 says ‘Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.’ This Old Testament verse describes God’s desire to bless His children. The following sentence deserves close attention: God wants to bless you, but He cannot because your heart is hard and not entirely devoted to Him! Do you think God needs your money? NO! He wants your heart!

Matthew 23:23 says ‘“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.’ Jesus shows that although tithing originated from the Old Testament, it is relevant in the new covenant. The fundamental principles of giving are the same today as when the law was first written.

Generosity: Sacrificial Giving

I previously mentioned the story of me as a twelve-year-old boy dreaming about all the things I could buy with one million dollars. The exercise got me thinking of all the different stuff I could buy and all the holidays I could experience if I wanted to. However, after thinking about myself for some time, I decided to think about ways I could spend the money to help others. I considered giving half of it away, but I had second thoughts. Giving half of a million dollars seemed to be such a waste! What if I only gave 10%? What if I gave $100,000 and kept the rest for spending as I saw fit? Surely that was generous enough!

There is nothing wrong with giving 10%, but there is something special about giving more than a sensible amount. Luke 21:1-4 says ‘Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Jesus saw through the dollar amounts straight to the heart of each person. The widow chose not to eat because of her love for God. The wealthy people of that time were indeed generous, but their level of giving did not require much sacrifice.

God does not require sacrifice, as Hosea says at 6:6 ’For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.’ However, when you choose to go beyond God’s expectations and requirements because you love Him that much, He will respond and repay! Matthew 6:19-22 says ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God is after your heart. If you give Him everything you have, especially to the point where it hurts, He notices! Every gift given need not be sacrificial, but a healthy, generous life will include the occasional sacrificial offering which shows the heart of the giver.

Generosity: The New Lifestyle

As a twelve-year-old boy, I was alone in my thoughts one afternoon, dreaming about all the things I could buy with one million dollars. The previous day I had been asked what I would do if I were given one million dollars. How would I choose to spend the money? I thought of many different fun things to buy. I thought about how much chocolate I could buy. I wondered how far I could make it stretch if I went on holidays for the rest of my life. To me, a sum of money that large could last forever!

That question showed what was really in my heart. What would I do if there were no limits? If I could say yes to anything, how would I spend my time? I dreamt of indulging in pleasures. I thought I would be happy if only I had cool stuff. Now I realise the thing stopping me from being happy was not my lack of things and grand holidays, but instead a desire to live a life of generosity.

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 says ‘6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[d] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[e] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they[f] 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 and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

These verses can be used to make many different points, but I want to highlight the use of sowing and reaping as an example of generosity. A farmer sows for a season, and during that season does not plant a single seed. Instead, he plants thousands of seeds for days on end! He will not stop until the field is covered. In the same way, giving should not be seen as single, one-time events, but instead as seasons of giving over and over. I am not talking about giving time, energy, or other resources. I am specifically talking about money. There may be times when it is financially impossible to invest and give thousands of times per year, but when that season comes, it is up to you to take advantage of it.

If only I understood the importance of a generous heart when I was younger, I would have started to see my life take a different direction earlier. However, I did begin to see that each coffee I bought someone, each $10 for a brother, or even each McDonald’s $1 frozen drink for a friend made a difference and started to open my world…

Generosity: Noticing Blessing on Others

A few years ago, I was catching up with a family friend (let’s call him Peter), drinking coffee with him when I started thinking about his life. Peter is a kind man whom I have now known for over ten years. The thing is, he has a lot of money. He has two substantial houses on large properties, among other investments. I started wondering how a man with so much money could be a Christian. I mean, aren’t Christians supposed to be poor? I have met many broke Christians, but here was a man who managed to do very well, and was substantially more generous than anyone I had met before.

I had many questions, and I wanted answers. How can I make a lot of money like Peter? Am I allowed to be wealthy if I’m a Christian? Do rich people go to heaven? Why is Peter so generous all the time? If he is always giving money away, why isn’t he broke?

Have you met someone who lives this way? Have you encountered a wealthy Christian? Why do you think they are wealthy?

My questions weren’t all answered right away, but as I asked questions and prayed, I started to understand some basic principles of giving. The first idea that had to change was that giving money away could make someone broke. It sounds logical, but Peter’s experience, and now mine, proves the opposite. The first lesson I learned about money is that when I give, I cannot lose.

Psalm 112:5 says ‘It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.‘ Why is it well with the man who deals generously and lends? I will explore this further in future posts.

HOMEWORK: Consider what generosity means. Are you generous? Do you lend?

Finding Peace In Every Moment

I find myself living in a broken and hurting world. I often see people in bad situations who, by making many small choices, found themselves there. However, I cannot be discouraged for long. I believe in a God who is able and willing to help every person who reaches out to Him. I understand this from my own experience at the age of sixteen. When I prayed to Him, He responded. Now a Christian, bad things still happen to me the same way, yet they appear less significant. At times I have found myself laughing at situations that would have intimidated me before meeting God.

Matthew 24:4-8 says ‘Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

This scripture talks about some of the negative things that will happen. However, the hope of God and His salvation brings peace that cannot be understood by anyone who has not experienced it first-hand.

John 16:33 says ‘I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Do you experience peace that allows you to laugh in times of distress? God wants you to live in this kind of harmony. If you do not experience this, ask God to give it to you.

Passion For God

Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.

This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.

The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.

Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?