The Joy of Generosity
Generosity can be described as big-heartedness, open-handedness or liberality in giving. Generosity is a Christian maturity that is developed through faith and understanding that God Himself is the greatest giver and owner of all wealth. Christians who grow to this level of maturity understand that they can rely on God to provide all the needs they have and that he knows their needs because He cares about our welfare. God’s generosity is clearly demonstrated through His love for mankind: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Many of us can give, but generosity is beyond giving. God gave His ONE and ONLY Son. The lesson we shall learn this month is giving with a joyful heart out of our needy situations. When we give out of our comfort, we give out of our plentiful. David insisted on buying the threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite so that he can build an altar to the Lord. He said “I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24). David built an Altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. (Vs25)
Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath
1 Kings 17:2-16
2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar, so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “DON’T BE AFRAID. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So, there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
What are our generosity road blocks?
Lack of Faith: The widow of Zarephath thought she was preparing her last meal. But a simple act of faith produced a miracle. She trusted Elijah and gave all she had to eat to him. Faith is the step between PROMISE and ASSURANCE. Every miracle big or small starts with an act of OBEDIENCE. We may not see the solution until we take a step of faith like this widow did.
Fear: Fear is related to lack of faith. Fear tells us that tomorrow is coming and reminds us we have bills to pay, school fees, a car loan, mortgage etc. The widow of Zarephath was cooking her last meal. Many of us live this way as if we are cooking our last meal. We fear that we will not enjoy life, we fear that we will be taken advantage of, we fear that the recipient will not use the gift wisely.
Trust: Ultimately, we fear because we do not trust. We do not trust that God is who He says He is and what He promises us. We do not trust that God is the owner of everything, that resources are not scarce, but abundant. And we do not trust that God will use His resources to take care of us. Lack of faith, fear and lack of trust hurts our generosity. It causes us to miss out on the joy that comes along with living generously.
The Collection for the Lord’s People
2 Cor 8:1-15
8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”[b]
What drives us into a culture and lifestyle of generosity is not the obligation to do so, but when we truly understand how blessed we are in Jesus Christ, we will become an overflow of His blessing in us to others. However, there is a prevailing spirit that goes against a generous heart in Christians. Here are five common excuses given by people who choose not to act in generosity;
- I don’t have enough-The philosophy of the world is that we never have enough. We look across the fence to our neighbors and desire more and more- Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
- It won’t make a difference– Whatever little we have God can multiply and use it for his glory. The generosity of the boy with 2 fish and 3 loaves fed 5000 men. God can use your generosity to feed a community.
- “My wealth is the product of my sweat and blood.” – “Yours oh Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours o Lord is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you, you are the ruler over all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” (1 Chro 29:11-12)
- I need it more than they do. It is true that many times we are called when we have what we would consider greater need than the call. The response from the widow of Zarephath was that she did not have anything to give the man of God. Her obedience and generosity led to an abundant provision for her and her family throughout the famine.
- I need to be selfish to survive. The principles of the kingdom of God are different from the worldly kingdom. The kingdom of God releases, while the earthly kingdom withholds. In Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders he says “Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Christ himself said ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.” (Acts 20:32-35)
God wants our giving to be joyful and fulfilling. Through our giving, we worship and honor our Lord. Giving expresses our gratitude for God’s love and grace given to us through his Son, Jesus, who has conquered sin, death, and the devil through His death and resurrection. Generosity can fill the hunger pains of the hungry. It can also help the homeless and helpless, and it can support the ministry of our church. Through faith, we can share the abundance God has given us. As we do, we will find “joy in sharing God’s blessings.” I challenge you to be deliberate in sacrificial giving out of a grateful heart, and you will see what the Lord has in store for you.
Rev. Julius Wainaina