What Is Generosity?

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

Everything we have has been given to us as a grace-gift. “But wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Didn’t I sacrifice and invest years of my life for my education, which ultimately led to the career to which I now give many hours of my day, which supplies the income I now enjoy, which affords me the nice house, nice ride, beautiful vacations and all the other wonderful benefits of my hard work?” Good point. But who gave you the mental and physical abilities that enabled you to get that education? That led to the career? That affords you all the other things of which you speak?

And do I dare believe for a millionth of a second, out of the billions of people on this planet, I just happened to meet the one person of my dreams? That I just happen to have the children for whom I’d give everything, including my life in a heartbeat? Do I live in the neighborhood I live in by accident? Do I attend the church I love just on a whim? Am I alive in this moment by any effort of my own? Do I not yet understand that I exist as a grace-gift from God and that everything I have or am or ever will be, is a gift from God, apart from whom, according to Jesus, I am nothing and can do nothing (John 15:5)?

I love the expression I’ve heard numbers of times: “We don’t give because we HAVE to. We give because we GET to!” That speaks to the root of generosity. How can I NOT give generously, of my time, my energy/efforts, my finances, my talents/abilities to forward God’s eternal purposes? If everything I have is a gift from God, it’s not mine to do with as I please anyway. I’m not an owner, I’m a steward, a manager of the resources, including my relationships, my money, my mind, my abilities, EVERYTHING to the honor, glory and fame of Jesus.

Generosity is simply allowing our lives to become a channel of blessing to others through the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, found in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (NLT) By generously exhibiting these characteristics of Christ’s love of us in our love of others, the greatest benefit to us is that we get to experience the blessing of God’s closeness.

Photo by Luiz M. Santos on Pexels.com

We are introduced to the life God has desired for us since the Garden of Eden. It’s the blessed (“makarios”) life about which Jesus spoke in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. It’s a life of fulfillment of which Jesus spoke in John 10:10, a life of purpose and meaning; a life of satisfaction and peace; a life designed and equipped by the fullness of God’s presence living in and through us each second our heart beats and far beyond. It’s the treasure we seek as we pursue the trinkets of this world, but never find except in surrender to the One who gave His life for us.

Luke records in Acts 20:35 the words of Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, as he quoted the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (NLT) The word “blessed” in this verse is the same word Jesus used in His sermon in Matthew 5. It can be translated many ways, but in essence refers to the life we’re afforded in following Christ that can be offered us in no other way; a life of complete surrender to the will of God that results in unimaginable joy, peace, freedom and yes, happiness.

Generosity includes, but certainly isn’t limited to the giving of money. Though I never earned very much, I can’t use that as an excuse for not living a generous life. My treasure isn’t the measure of wealth used by this world. My treasure is Jesus. And for the rest of my life, I’m His, to be used by Him in any way He would choose. I don’t want to burn out in my service to my Savior, I want to wear out. When my eyes close for the last time I want to have given everything I could possibly give to His honor and to the furtherance of His eternal Kingdom.

The greatest benefit of generosity to me is to be able to say with the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” (NLT)

Blessings, Ed 😊

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