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What the Bible Says About Generosity

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Generosity vs. Giving

Generosity is the willingness to give freely. It could be money, time, or gifts of any kind. Generosity is different from merely giving because a person could give grudgingly and out of compulsion without being generous. Therefore, generosity is the virtue of giving freely. A person is generous when he gives without being asked to give. He also gives more than is expected.

Generosity is an adjective that describes one's way of giving. Giving is a verb that is the action itself. It is the act of bestowing something onto a person.

One thing to remember about generosity and giving is this:

"A person can't be generous without giving.
However, a person can give without being generous."

Why We Should Be Generous

We should be generous because the Bible commands us to be generous. Therefore, God is indeed very pleased when we are generous with our giving. He wants our gifts to be based on our ability to give and not based on our leftovers.

Paul tells rich Christians that they must be "generous and willing to share" (1 Timothy 6:18). Paul says that even though the Corinthians were going through trouble and hard times, they mixed their joy with their deep poverty, and the result was an overflow of giving to others (2 Corinthians 8:2).

How We Can Be Generous

Christians have different financial resources. Therefore, everybody's generosity is not the same. There are some principles that everyone should follow no matter how much money they have.

  1. Each person should follow through on their promises to give generously (2 Corinthians 8:10 and 9:1).
  2. Everyone should give as much as he is able to give (2 Corinthians 8:12 and 9:6).
  3. Each person must make up his own mind how much to give (2 Corinthians 9:7).
  4. Each person should give in proportion to what God has given him (2 Corinthians 9:10).
  5. Giving doesn't always have to be money. It could be doing a service for someone or spending time with a person.
  6. Remember, God gives to you so you can give to others.

What Happens When You Are Generous?

When you are generous, you please God because you are following His commandment to give cheerfully. Most people don't know this, but giving and giving generously help the giver more than the gift helps the recipient. Even fewer people know that giving does something to the body of the giver. The most important thing is that joy is released when we give.

Giving does more than release joy. Generosity is a mental health principle. It helps the giver have a happy and stress-free life. It reduces anxiety and keeps one from being depressed. Statistics show that giving also prolongs one's lifespan.

Generosity is a spiritual principle. It helps the giver grow stronger because when he gives, he is obeying God's command. That pleases God because the giver's attitude becomes aligned with His words.

Steps to Generosity

If you have not been generous in your life, perhaps it is time to give it a try. Here are four steps to get you started practicing generosity.

1. Give somebody something that you want for yourself.

The greatest gift you can give is not the most expensive. Generosity is most effective when you give someone something you wish someone would give you. When you give a special gift to someone, it is like giving a piece of yourself.

2. Your gift is an investment.

People give wedding gifts, graduation gifts, birthday gifts, and other gifts for special occasions and celebrations. The gift shows you are proud of the recipients and you wish them well. Even though the gift will delight the recipient, you are investing in the person. Therefore, you share in his success in an indirect way.

3. Accept the generosity of others.

Never give in order to get something in return from the recipient of your gift. However, generosity does beget generosity. When we are generous to others, others will be generous toward us, and the generosity might not always come from the person you were generous toward. No matter where the gift comes from, we should never reject it. If we do not accept what others give us, then we keep them from being blessed by their generosity. Remember, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

4. Establish a connection and reap a harvest.

When we give to others, we not only become connected to the people we give to, but we also develop the habit of giving as a spiritual discipline. Our giving is like seeds sown in the ground. We will reap a harvest based on our giving, according to Luke 6:38.

5. Show appreciation.

When you receive a gift, show appreciation. Do not say you don't like a gift even if you don't like it. Feel free to regift it later. A simple "Thank you" is all that needs to be said. Don't make the person feel bad about being generous toward you.

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