5 things the Bible says about generosity
Generous is a word we may use to describe people who have positively impacted our lives. Although generosity is often associated with monetary gifts, generosity extends well beyond money and includes small acts of kindness and compassion from a loved one, friend or even a stranger.
Principles and examples of generosity are evident throughout the Bible and are just as applicable in our modern-day relationships, communities and workplaces as they were 2,000 years ago. Whether you’re on the receiving end of a generous act or you benefit from the fulfillment and joy of giving to others, generosity is a character trait that we can all appreciate.
To guide us along our journey, here are five things the Bible teaches us about generosity.
1. Generosity is a simple act
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.Hebrews 13:16
In a society that revolves around trade and business, generosity can become calculative and overcomplicated, but the Bible teaches us that generosity is simple.
Just as we teach young children to practice sharing, teachings in the Bible also demonstrate that sharing what we have is the simplest expression of generosity.
2. Generosity is all about the heart
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:3
Before we practice generosity, the Bible teaches us that giving to others is inextricably tied to loving others. Without loving our neighbours— including our family, friends, colleagues and vulnerable members in our community— even the grandest acts of generosity are meaningless.
On the flip side, the smallest acts of kindness and generosity are considered momentous when coupled with a heart of love.
3. Generosity involves more than just money
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.1 Timothy 6:18
Although the Bible provides plenty of examples that encourage material generosity towards the poor and oppressed, generosity and various other good deeds can be expressed in a multitude of ways.
Giving our time, resources, talents or even a listening ear or a kind word, can be expressions of generosity to people in need. Consider baking a neighbour a cake, volunteering with your church at a local shelter or writing an email to encourage a colleague can be just as important expressions of our generosity towards others.
4. Generosity teaches us to trust God
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment...1 Timothy 6:17-19
Giving generously is an opportunity for us to trust in God’s provision. Living in Australia, many of us are privileged to enjoy high living standards, accessible health care and public education but the comfort we have can also breed uncertainty and anxiety.
Ironically, the more we have, the more we fear losing our wealth. The Bible reminds us that life on earth is uncertain and nothing is guaranteed, but when we put our hope in God’s provision, we can rest assured that he’ll provide for our needs.
Giving to others helps us tangibly practise trusting in God rather than our riches or belongings.
5. Generosity is a blessing
... remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'Acts 20:35
In worldy economic terms, giving means we have less than what we started with, but the Bible teaches us that when we give to others, we gain. It seems illogical but it’s a blessed truth that Luke, the author of Acts, encourages us to remember.
This verse provides us with a heartwarming reminder that giving to someone in need or supporting a cause like homelessness, can bring us a great sense of fulfillment and joy.
The story of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry in the Bible is full of examples of generosity. Jesus sets a high standard of giving and caring for others because in the kingdom of God, people in need are just as important as the wealthiest people in this world. As we learn how to adopt principles of generosity, let’s continue to look to Jesus as the ultimate expression of generosity and sacrifice.
Ways you can be generous right now
- Pray for organisations like Mission Australia and the people we serve. Sign up to our prayer diary to receive regular updates and prayer requests.
- Equip your church to understand the issues with our sermon outlines and Bible study resources.
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