What does generosity mean, really? It is often equated with financial giving, but it clearly goes beyond the number of dollars given away. In Scripture, we read how God intends generosity to be transformational. Biblical generosity means changing the way we think about all of our resources, not just money, in order to uplift others, strengthen relationships, and glorify God.
So how can we embrace this transformational definition of generosity and shift how we give? It begins by unpacking a few major characteristics of generosity in Scripture.
In Matthew 25, it is no mistake that Jesus focuses on clothes, food, water, and community when he describes the standard of care He expects from His people. He never mentions money at all. In the parable of those on the right and left of the throne, those who are blessed sought to impact their neighbors directly through tangible forms according to their need.
Our generosity is not just about a transaction to check a box, to feel better about our status in comparison to others, or to receive a worldly write-off for our good deed. Transformational generosity comes when we seek the good of our brothers and sisters. It is a focus shift away from only dollar amounts. Generosity comes in many forms, such as volunteering our time and resources. Is your generosity, financial or not, followed through with love, care for the fulfillment of the need, and refined according to its efficacy?
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ — Matthew 25:34
Transformational Generosity is Cheerful
Questions like, “How much can I afford to give?” or, “Is my giving enough?” might stand in the way of finding joy in our giving. Scripture offers a different approach to generosity that does not require formulas or spreadsheets.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 complements the stories of the widows in 1 Kings 17 and Mark 12, who, without reluctance, desired to give of all they had, despite having little. Sowing generously and reaping generously is not defined by a set amount or percentage, but is an evaluation from the heart, and is a joyful overflow of love.
Transformational Generosity is Connective
The stories of generous people in the Bible also show how a generous heart connects communities and knows no boundaries. In Luke 10, it is the outcast Good Samaritan who generously steps forward to help the man who was robbed on a rural road to Jericho. In Acts 2:45, the earliest believers generously “sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” The Lord added to their community daily because of their welcoming generosity.
Just as God generously gave His only Son, who paid the price for all who have sinned, our giving should be reflective of that same love, connecting it with those who may have never known it before.
Transformational Generosity is First Fruits Driven
Numbers 18:12 states that, “all the finest new wine and grain they give the LORD as the first fruits of their harvest.” In many places throughout the Bible, the idea of giving first—rather than giving from what was left over—was an acknowledgement of God’s ownership over all things. Giving of our first fruits is not a tithe but a gift out of a portion that is normally meant for ourselves.
Transformational generosity can really begin to occur when we act in faith to “return” what is already God’s. God will use our biblical generosity to spread joy, connect communities, share the love of Jesus, and eternally impact the beautiful Kingdom of the Lord.
If you have questions about taking your next steps with transformational generosity, including resources to help along the way or tools to enable your generosity goals, use our contact form and someone will be in touch to further the conversation.