And defining generosity is not easy, as there is such a wide, subjective view and understanding of what being generous looks like. For many, generosity often gets defined when we compare ourselves to others and the way they live as opposed to us. In this way, it matters where we look. We can look at some who live on very little yet choose to give away most everything they have. We can go to developing countries and walk into homes where people have nothing yet watch as they freely share a large portion of anything they do have. Or we could look at the neighbor who won’t even buy the small item our child is selling door to door. Based on where we look, we could feel proud of how we give or we could feel like we’re not being generous at all, even if we are giving large portions of our life away.
I have come to believe that the only way to determine whether you are living generously is to spend time in prayer, asking God to help you navigate this extremely delicate subject. For me, it’s been a lifelong process filled with many conversations with the Lord in prayer and with others. I have also read many books on the topic. Still, the summary of my 50 years of research has led to this conclusion: our answer only comes as we continue to ask God for direction.
In other words, ensuring we live a life a generosity is not something attained once and for all. Rather, it is a process and a journey that changes as our lives move forward. Because of its value and the fact that living generously may look different over time, it is an important subject that deserves our effort and struggle to understand. I love the verse of Scripture in Jeremiah 29:13, that promises, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (CSB). Tough questions like this one, deserve deep exploration.
I want to state strongly that if you’re not wrestling with this issue, I would almost guarantee that your generosity is pretty limited. As humans, we are just too self-centered and immersed in a culture that teaches us to take very good care of ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be influenced by things not grounded in God’s Word, we’re not as likely to exercise the discipline it requires to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
Friends, this is hard and it’s very important and personal. Will you allow God and His Word to challenge your habits and ideology, such that you establish your generosity on an accurate understanding of Scripture?
So, I repeat, the most important aspect of teaching the next generation that giving trumps getting is to live it. I can’t really think of anything more important. And keep in mind, generosity is not only about money. Nor does generosity apply only to the wealthy. Being generous is a way of life. It’s the desire to help others, and can include giving people your time, and your words of encouragement. It’s forgiveness, it’s attitude. In short, it’s being about not only looking to our own interests, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).
When we live this way, we will experience joy and satisfaction in our lives. That doesn’t negate that living a generous life is tiring or demanding – it is – often. But what you gain are life experiences that will reinforce the joy of giving and increase your desire to grow in generosity. – all the way to the end of your life. Friends, Jesus very pointedly said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NIV). Blessed can be translated “happy”. Does my life – does your life – reflect that we truly believe we will be happy when we live generously? I think if we did, we might see a whole lot more generosity in action.
We’ve all heard it said, “You can’t take it with you”. So, will you seek the Lord and His Word to understand how He is calling you to steward all you possess, and to live generously? I would love to hear from you and the joy of giving you experience. My prayer and belief are that you will discover that nothing compares to giving.