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Living By Design—Generously

May 6, 2019

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A preschool-aged boy shares his ice cream cone with a preschool-aged girlGenerosity is an integral part of the Christian life. It isn’t that God needs some financial help. Can you imagine the Creator of the universe running a bit short this month and looking to us to help cover the costs of this ministry or that church? No, living generously isn’t about obligation; it’s about opportunity.

Reflecting God’s generosity

I think you’ll agree that God is infinitely generous. He gave us our lives. He gave us everything we have. And out of his supreme love for us, He gave us His son.

“For God so loved the world that that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

Since we were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), that means generosity is an essential part of our character as well. It’s woven into our spiritual DNA. Is it any wonder that even secular researchers have found that generous people tend to be happier than those who aren’t generous?

Orienting our hearts in the right direction

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). When I first read that verse, I thought it should be the other way around—that whatever we set our hearts on is where we will spend our money. While there’s some truth to that, I have developed a much greater appreciation for the reality that our hearts tend to follow our treasure.

I remember a time when my wife wanted to support a friend of hers who was doing some missionary work in Bolivia. Honestly, at the time I probably couldn’t find Bolivia on a map. I had approximately zero percent of my attention focused on Bolivia. But once we began sending some money there, I started to notice every time Bolivia was in the news. And whenever my wife’s friend would send updates about her work, I read them with great interest. My heart had gone there because some of our treasure was going there.

Giving toward God’s purposes in the world has a powerful impact on our hearts. Through the regular practice of generosity, God molds us ever more in His image.

Remembering God’s provision

Do you ever feel tempted to take the credit for your financial situation? Maybe you put yourself through college or earned an advanced degree. You probably work hard at your job. God’s Word cautions us, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Every time you write a check for a Christian ministry or put money in the offering basket, use it as an opportunity to thank God for his provision.

The blessings of generosity

This aspect of generosity has become more difficult to teach on because of the prosperity gospel. I’m very confident that any instruction to give in order to receive something back is an affront to God. As the apostle Paul asked, “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them” (Romans 11:35)? God is the giver. Everything in our possession is owned by God and has been simply temporarily entrusted to us by Him.

And yet, there are numerous places throughout the Bible where it is clear that there are blessing the come from living the generous lives we were intended to live. For example, Proverbs 11:25 states, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Largely, this is a matter of motivation. As a wise person once said, “We don’t give in order to (get something from God); we give because of (all that God has given us)!”

To live generously is to live how we were intended to live, and life just works better when we live according to our design.

Matt Bell is the author of four Biblical money management books published by NavPress. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the country and writes the MattAboutMoney blog.

This article should not be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. You may wish to consult a tax or financial advisor about your individual financial situation.

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