God Loves the Generous Giver
Believe it or not, money is one of the topics that Jesus addresses most often in His ministry (15% of His total teachings are about money). Conversely, it is something we can be rather shy or awkward about. But this shouldn’t be the case! We need to confront this subject for the very same reason that Jesus does: for where our money is, there our heart will be also (Matt. 6:21).
Our hearts need to be with Jesus, and so I thought it fitting if we spent a few weeks considering the topic of giving. How can we seek to loosen the grip that finances so often have on our lives? How can we put our earthy treasure to heavenly use so that our heart is with and for Christ? Let’s look at what Scripture has to say in regards to how we should think of giving. We will consider in the weeks ahead what it means to give generously, cheerfully, purposefully, and sacrificially—our ultimate motivation in each being thanksgiving to God for His indescribable gift in the gospel (2 Cor. 9: 15).
So first: giving generously. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” He is using farming language to make his point on giving in the church. Just as the farmer who spreads very little seed should expect very little growth, so too should we can expect little return on a stingy offering. But note this: we should expect a return! I find that fascinating in this passage, that Paul is telling us that there is a correlation between what we give and what we get in return.
God will reward you based on how you give to Him. If we give generously God will indeed reward us: “Sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21; see also Ephesians 6:8; Romans 2:6,10; Matthew 10:42; Luke 14:13-14 for more passages on rewards for our actions). It gets even better when you consider the nature of the reward God offers us: our reward is heavenly while our giving is earthly. That is to say it is exponentially greater than anything we could ever give in the first place. God gives us “solid joys and lasting treasure” for the temporary and fleeting gifts that we offer to Him now.
This is the bountiful reaping that we can expect from God—but only if we sow, or give, bountifully and generously. Now, the question is, what does “generous” look like? Does it have a certain USD equivalent? Does it have a certain percentage that we can tag along with it. No. Remember the poor widow:
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42–44).
This is an important passage when it comes to the topic of generous giving. Notice what Jesus says: it’s not as if the woman gave more because she had so little. He says that she literally “put in more”! Heaven’s currency is a mystery, but know this: because this woman was generous, even in her poverty, she contributed more to the work of God’s kingdom on earth, and likewise will receive a greater reward from God’s kingdom in heaven!
We must give generously. We are encouraged to do so from stories like this poor widow, knowing that our bountiful sowing results in bountiful reaping. We are also encouraged to know that as we give generously here and now we are storing up tremendous treasures in heaven for an eternity. But remember that generosity is not so much a matter of the wallet as it is a matter of the heart. We give freely and greatly and bountifully because that is exactly the way God has given to us: “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 by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Our giving reflects our understanding of the gospel. Knowing how generously God has given to us in the gospel will loosen our hold on our finances and let them flow freely into things that are of lasting value. Randy Alcorn puts it wonderfully when he says, “Our giving is a reflexive response to the grace of God in our lives. It doesn’t come out of our altruism or philanthropy—it comes out of the transforming work of Christ in us. His grace is the action; our giving is the reaction. We give because He first gave to us.”