September 5 - The Spirit of Generosity
In encouraging the Corinthian Christians to give generously, Paul cited the example of the grace of God given among the churches of Macedonia. Generosity, first of all, is a grace or gift from God. None of us can be generous without receiving the gifts of God first. When we are filled with the grace of God, generosity comes as a result. The motivation in giving to others is when you have received from God. As Jesus has said, “Freely receive, freely give.” Without the incoming of God’s grace, any giving out would be from our own resources and own reserves. A generous giver is always a grateful receiver from God so that he could give whatever is from God to others.
The grace of God is not only in receiving good things from God. A generous giver is not always rich with material resources. One can experience the grace of God even in adverse circumstances like the churches in Macedonia. They were in severe test of affliction, extreme poverty and with limited means. Yet they were grateful to God because of His grace resulted in abundance of joy and a wealth of generosity. In my experience, most contributions to the Kingdom are from the poor but grateful givers instead of the rich and ungrateful ones. The Lord has ways to keep us humble and grateful so that we may become more generous.
The way that the Macedonian Christians gave was first according to their means and then beyond their means. This is a miracle from God, giving the seeds to the sower as the sower is willing to sow beyond the means. Faith pledge for missions is an example, giving not out of what we have but what we do not have, trusting the Lord to provide the seed. This is giving in faith for all resources come from God. Giving sacrificially is the way to witness the power and provision of God. Such giving is not to be solicited but out of one’s own accord, even to the point of begging for the privilege to give for such giving is a favor from the Lord. To be able to give is a favor or grace from God who enables one to do so.
The underlying belief is the stewardship of everything and that the Lord owns everything and we are just the trustees. Giving is to redistribute what we have received from above, not taking anything out of what we own. The Macedonian Christians gave themselves first to God and secondarily gave to others. Giving to the Lord is to recognize that we do not own anything, so in gratitude we give what the Lord has already given to others. Without the first part, there would not be any generosity. The story of the widow’s two mites is a good example of sacrificial giving, giving not from what we have but what we do not have.
The spirit of generosity comes from gratefulness and humility, entering into God’s presence with thankfulness and worship. Are you a generous giver?
Ps 100:1-5 Ecc 10:1-12:14 2 Cor 8:1-15 Prov 22:20-21