Love. Live. Preach. Teach.—Live Him, Part 4

November 29, 2011

by Peter Amsterdam

Audio length: 11:29

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The last three sections of the series covered seven of nine principles that are connected to Live Him—the Abiding, Love, Unity, Humility, Non-Anxiety, Forgiveness, and Fellowship principles. Now we go to the Generosity Principle.

The Generosity Principle

Jesus succinctly articulated the principle of generosity when He said:

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.[1]

He was expressing a spiritual law that is prevalent throughout both the Old and New Testament—that if you give, you receive; that God looks favorably on being generous; that helping others is something disciples do; that in doing these things you are honoring and praising God. Even more than that, you are giving to God.

Of course, it’s not always easy to be generous, whether with your finances, material goods, or time and effort. Giving to others is a sacrifice. It costs. It means you are offering something which belongs to you to another, and in doing so, you in a sense lose it, since you no longer possess it. However, according to what God has said numerous times in both the Old and New Testament, He blesses such generosity in tangible ways. As the saying goes, “You can’t outgive God.”

God blesses and cares for those who are generous. When we give, we prosper.

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.[2]

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.[3]

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.[4]

A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.[5]

In being generous, in giving, in caring for others, you are giving to God.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.[6]

Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”[7]

Being generous isn’t necessarily about how much one gives. It’s more about giving from the heart, about having a generous spirit.

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that He has given you.[8]

They came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments.[9]

All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.[10]

[Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”[11]

When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[12]

Jesus instructed His disciples to give:

Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.[13]

If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.[14]

The Old Testament teaches the same:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.[15]

As disciples, we are commissioned to be generous with one another, especially when there is need.

Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.[16]

As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.[17]

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.[18]

If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.[19]

Loving and caring for others in our “household of faith” is clearly important. When we know of fellow believers who are in need, the Lord expects us to make an effort to help them in some way. It’s not always possible to help financially, but finances aren’t always the only need. Sometimes what’s needed is a helping hand, taking care of the children for an afternoon so the parents can tackle a project together or even take time off. Maybe it’s making and delivering a few frozen meals, or sharing some of your surplus supplies or clothes. Perhaps it’s driving them somewhere, or arranging to help them in some way on a regular basis. Being generous doesn’t only equal financial giving; it is giving to meet the need, and sometimes what’s needed is friendship, a listening ear, the gift of your time and spiritual and emotional support.

The principle of being generous, the spiritual law regarding giving, works in two directions: there are blessings for being generous, but also a lack of blessing for those who don’t give.

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.[20]

A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.[21]

There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.[22]

Being generous pleases God. It’s an investment in our present and in our eternal future, and brings thanksgiving and praise to the Lord.

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.[23]

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.[24]

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.[25]

Living the principle of generosity makes one a blessing to others and brings God’s blessing on the generous one. When you make the choice to give of yourself, your time, your resources, your finances, you are not only doing generous acts; you are becoming a generous person, and God blesses those who are generous.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”[26]

(To read the next article in this series, click here.)

[1] Luke 6:38.

[2] Isaiah 58:10–11.

[3] Deuteronomy 15:10 NIV.

[4] Proverbs 11:24–25 NIV.

[5] Proverbs 22:9 NIV.

[6] Proverbs 19:17.

[7] Matthew 25:34–40.

[8] Deuteronomy 16:17.

[9] Exodus 35:21.

[10] Exodus 35:29.

[11] Mark 12:41–44.

[12] Matthew 6:2–4.

[13] Matthew 5:42.

[14] Luke 6:34–35.

[15] Proverbs 3:27–28.

[16] Romans 12:13 NIV.

[17] Galatians 6:10.

[18] James 2:15–17.

[19] 1 John 3:17–18.

[20] Proverbs 28:27.

[21] Proverbs 28:22.

[22] Proverbs 11:24 NKJ.

[23] Hebrews 13:16 NIV.

[24] 1 Timothy 6:17–19 NIV.

[25] 2 Corinthians 9:6–12 NIV.

[26] Acts 20:35.