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Christian Generosity

Recently, a man was talking to me about his daughter who works at a local restaurant. He said that his daughter hates to work on Sundays because the church crowd doesn’t tip well. This saddened me as just the opposite should be true. A Christian is called to a generous life in many aspects, including money, forgiveness, and time. We are called to have a generous spirit. This man went on to say that he told his daughter that he’ll tip excessively even when he gets bad service. When his daughter questioned why, the man said that he didn’t know if maybe the server was having a bad day and the big tip would brighten that day. Or maybe the server was always like that and receiving a bigger than usual tip may make that person stop and ask why. This man has a generous spirit, one that anyone who claims to be Christian should have.

The most obvious area of generosity is money. From anecdotal evidence it seems there are two types of people that are the biggest tightwads. The rich and Christians. Not everyone in these categories is a tightwad. And it’s a good idea to be frugal. But as Christians, what is our responsibility when it comes to wealth? Jesus said in Matthew 5:42, "Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." In the world, the usual way of doing business when loaning money is to charge interest. But, unless you’re a banker and you’re doing a loan as a business transaction for your company, we as Christians are not to expect interest from someone we loan money to. Deuteronomy 23:19 says, "You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest." Okay, most of us can do that. Loan money to someone in need and expect we’ll get that money back, right? Wrong. Not according to Jesus. He takes it a step farther. In Luke 6:35, Jesus says, "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." Lend expecting nothing in return? Yes, that’s what our Master said. We are to lend to those in need with no expectation of ever seeing that money again. And by the way, those in need includes the "ungrateful and the evil".

Another aspect of living a generous Christian life is forgiveness. For so many people, forgiveness is difficult. We hold grudges. We want to get even. Someone does something we don’t like, and we never speak to them again. Oh, we’ll speak of them to all of our friends. We have no problem talking about someone behind their back, but we can’t bring ourselves to talk to them and work things out. Extending forgiveness is generosity. It’s selflessness. And it’s commanded. Jesus, in Matthew 6:14, said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you.” Think about the inverse. If we don’t forgive others their trespasses, then God will not forgive us. We need God’s forgiveness. Without it, the only choice is where the worm never dies and there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth. Besides, holding a grudge hurts the bearer more than grudgee. The man in my opening story has the right attitude. When we get lousy service at a restaurant, instead of stiffing the server on the tip, let’s show true Christian forgiveness and love and give that person more. Maybe they’ll pay it forward to the next customer.

There are those Christians that have buckets of money to give, and they do so willingly, but God wants something else from them as well, something He wants from all of us. Our time. A generous Christian gives of him or herself. We need to come to the realization that our time is not ours anyway. God can call us home any time He wants. Our time is His time. And we should be generous with that time, giving it to God, using it for His kingdom. There are many Christians who hide behind their wealth. They will say that they give lots of money so that others can serve. This is a cop out. God calls the rich to give of their time as well as their money. Paul, writing in 1 Timothy 6:18, said, "They [the rich] are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share." We cannot buy good works. Christians must be generous with their time and service. Good works does not get us into heaven, but once we’ve accepted the gift of salvation, we should be compelled to do good works. James wrote that we prove our faith by our works. Faith without works is dead. Those that have wealth cannot hide behind that wealth and those that don’t have wealth cannot hide behind their poverty. There are no excuses for the Christian. Service is mandatory. We must generous with our time.

Bottom line, the Christian is to have a generous spirit. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." What if I don’t feel like giving? Chuck Swindoll once said that we should obey first, and then the good feelings will come after. If God is calling us to be generous on a day we don’t feel like being generous, we need to take a leap of faith and obey and see if God doesn’t bless us. Jesus challenges us by saying that if we love Him we’ll obey His commands. Generosity, like love, is not a feeling, not an emotion, it’s an action. Therefore, regardless of how we feel, we can be generous, just like we can love. And the two go hand in hand. Showing generosity is showing love. The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. But the second greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. And a great way to show love to a neighbor is through generosity.

And if all of the above isn’t enough, chew on this. Proverbs 19:6 says, "Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts." Want more friends? Be generous.

Written by Brian Lawrence
© Copyright Brian Lawrence. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.