Character Trait No. 29
Definition: Using all I have to glorify God because it all belongs to Him.
“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
As an inspired apostle, Paul received direct instruction by revelation from the Lord. Gal.1:12 Here in the scripture from Acts, he quotes Christ’s words to him that are not mentioned in the four gospels. This quote sums up the essence of true Christianity – giving. “For God so loved the world that He gave...” Jn. 3:16 God first set the tone by giving us His very best when He sent the Messiah to earth. His children must imitate their Father’s generous character: Acts 14:17 In Psalm 65, God’s abundant provision for nature is also poetically depicted: “Thou hast crowned the year with Thy bounty, And Thy paths drip with fatness.” This generosity is not reserved for any one group of people. Jesus said that we should even love our enemies, “in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Mt. 5:45 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children...” Eph.5:1
Being generous is an attitude of trust in the Lord. Believers in God’s generous nature should have no difficulty in giving. Gratitude should be our watchword! And being rich isn’t prerequisite to being generous. It is proportional giving. That’s why the widow’s mite was so impressive to Christ. The Macedonians are further examples of this principal of proportionate giving:
“For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” II Cor.8:3-5
In his first letter to the Corinthians, he had directed them on the first day of the week, (Sunday), to put aside and save some money for a collection of the impoverished saints in Jerusalem, as he may prosper. Giving generously is dependent on the heart of the giver, not the size of his bank account.
In Exodus we see such a generous heart exemplified when the Israelites gave more than enough for the building of the tabernacle. “And everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting...” Then the skillful men who were doing this work told Moses: “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work, which the Lord commanded them.” Ex.36:5 We also see such a voluntary spirit in Nehemiah 3, when the Jews rebuilt the walls and gates of Jerusalem. This is the way it is supposed to be!
Even with a great attitude of giving, though, we cannot do as much as we’d wish if we’re perpetually poor. The Bible gives a simple recipe for acquiring wealth: Hard work, regular tithing, and giving generously to others. “He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.” Prov.22: 9 And, “He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him his good deed.” Prov.19: 17 Nearly anyone, anywhere and at anytime, who will do these three things on a regular basis will eventually become self-sufficient and able to help others. Getting started is the hardest part. Then there is the making a lifetime habit of it. Real faith in God’s providential care will give one the ability to succeed. Once the results of such godly living become apparent, then the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Wisdom is vindicated by her children, and generosity is vindicated as wise by the results. Generous guys and gals are “more blessed” in every way, both spiritually and materially.
For one to view one’s self as generous, he must reinvent the way he perceives his situation. He needs extremely strong determination to overcome his financial fears and selfish instincts. He must learn to share, a lesson that should be taught to two-year-olds, by the way. The monkey’s grasping instinct held him firmly in the hunter’s trap. (A hole is dug in which an open hand can enter, but a clenched fist cannot. The monkey reaches in to grab some groundnuts, and must release them to extricate his hand. His stubborn refusal to let go the loot causes his capture!) Only by seeing the unending spiritual riches in glory that are the new creature in Christ’s inheritance, can one really give supernaturally to the Lord’s work. Token giving, which merely amounts to guilt relief money, cannot satisfy the new covenanter’s real potential whose righteousness is to exceed even that of the Pharisees.
Realize that the tithe is the Lord’s money, not ours. We cannot really give it to the Lord, but rather simply don’t withhold what is already His - by not keeping what was never ours to begin with. It is only after we’ve “allowed” the Lord to keep His portion that we can even begin to be generous at all. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. Of course, how many even tithe what is the Lord’s portion regularly? We must stop poor mouthing our incredibly rich and generous king Jesus by acting like beggars. The Lord’s people must support the Lord’s work. Evangelistic enterprises must be always “in the black”. Let our personal interests suffer if necessary, but never the Lord’s business.
How dare we let the world think that our God is a poor Father with helpless children. Let the poor say that I am rich, let the weak say that I am strong! Joel 3:10 We’ll never see “the righteous forsaken or begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends; and his descendants are a blessing.’ Ps. 37:25-6 So, here’s a question: Is the Bible true? Are the words of Psalm thirty-seven true? If yes, then if a nation, like Ghana (or the USA’s Federal government!), is constantly borrowing money - begging - then where is the righteousness of that nation or government? So what about an individual who is also perpetually in that state? Where is his personal righteousness? (Not forgetting Lazarus as an exception to this rule.) You can figure out the answer. There are some “deserving poor” who through terrible unforeseen circumstances are genuinely impoverished, but God’s people as a norm should be working and helping the needy rather than begging.
Let us be incredibly generous. This includes much more than money. Our time, energy, talents and every resource should be released for Christ’s glory. You will never see anyone take it with them to the grave. (The Egyptian Pharaohs tried that one, and grave looters took it all before their mummified bodies could get cool!) Let be used and use up what we have for Jesus. Let’s do business until He comes! Luke 19:13