How Generous Are You?
How Generous Are You?
by Shannon Wagers
Heading into the holiday season, I was prepared to see Costco packed the Friday before Thanksgiving. That day is always a busy day at Costco. Then I remembered our governor had given a new curfew order for the COVID-19 pandemic. This was like no other day I had ever seen. The store was filled. Lines stretched to the back and around the side of the building. Every shopper seemed to be purchasing paper towels and toilet paper in fear of another lockdown. In my preparedness mindset I thought, Hey, I might as well grab some paper products. Someone I know might need them. I patiently waited my turn and received my product, and then did the rest of my shopping.
Within a few minutes I noticed the line for the paper products had disappeared. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I continued to make my way through the store and then I overhead a panicked couple with a small child. On the phone she said, “Mom, I don’t know what we’re going to do. All the toilet paper is gone.” Instantly my heart was moved. I had a choice to make: Hold onto the product I had, planning to share with someone whom I personally knew, or I could take this moment and instantly bless someone else.
I approached the couple and said, “Excuse me, if you need this product you can take what I have.” They looked utterly confused. I replied, “I was getting this in case someone else needed it—and it sounds like you do.” They were overwhelmed with joy as they responded, “Are you sure, for real?” as the expression on their faces shifted. I immediately smiled and knew this was a divine moment.
The impact of generosity is virtuous for both the receiver and the giver.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
Money is often a stressful conversation for everyone in the church. Believe it or not, pastors often struggle with “the money talk.” Pastor and author Carey Nieuwhof shared these thoughts in Outreach Magazine:
“When you talk about money, it’s like you’re setting yourself up to be shot at. You almost always take bullets when you talk about money, even when you speak about it as earnestly, biblically and honestly as you know how. As a result, many pastors avoid the subject and only talk about it if there’s a financial crisis looming for the church.”
I firmly believe that biblically God asks his people to give back ten percent of their earnings, which is known as “the tithe” (see Leviticus 27:30); as well as offerings over and above the ten percent. The Bible tells us that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6, ESV).
The wisest king who ever lived, King Solomon, said this: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:24, 25, NIV). We can’t outgive God or “outbless” God. It will never happen. God loves to see our generosity and he blesses us because of it.
Giving on any scale is a personal decision. I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been a “tither” but have found tithing and giving generously above the ten percent to be an incredible experience. It is essentially saying “how much you trust God” with what he has blessed you with. You may feel you can’t afford it. Rest assured that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Financial expert Dave Ramsey shares these words:
“Tithing is more of a heart issue than a financial one. If you’re struggling with the idea of tithing or giving, spend some time asking God to give you wisdom around the topic and show you ways that you can help others—or even just be more generous. Even if giving doesn’t come naturally, prayer can help soften our hearts and refocus our intentions.”
Well Done, Good and Faithful Steward
When thinking about generosity, I believe we start by asking ourselves, “Are we owners or stewards?” To answer this, we need only to look at the very first chapter and book on the Bible in Genesis. Here we see immediately everything in this world is owned by God—he created it all! In Psalm 24:1, David reminds us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him” (NLT).
Many of Jesus’ parables share how to handle money and possessions. For instance, a great lesson on stewardship is “The Parable of the Talents,” found in Matthew 25:14-30. Jesus relates a story of a master going on a journey, leaving behind his property in the trust of three servants. When the master returns, he assesses what was done by each servant. The servants who took action with the talents they were given doubled the value and were proclaimed “good and faithful.” But the servant who took no action and returned the sole talent he was given was deemed “wicked and slothful.” What talents and abilities have you been blessed with? Do you give your “all” to God?
Generosity is not just about money, but about faithfully using our time and talents as well.
The Mark of Maturity
Author and musician Derek Charles Johnson says,
“As we grow in Christ, we see time not as a possession for selfish gain but a gift we are able to give away to others. I’m daily in this process as I think about what I want to accomplish in 24 hours versus what God wants. There are moments when God interrupts all my plans and I have to decide: do I keep pushing through with my agenda or do I submit and surrender to what God is doing? I’m not there yet. . . . To have a heart that beats for the Lord means you will be tested in your management of time. You will be given opportunities to put Him on display. It usually means our timetables take a back seat. But in so doing, we are given a front row view to what God is unfolding. As we understand His heart, we long to give away our time freely and openly. The giving of our time generously is a mark of Christian maturity.”
God simply asks us to give back a portion of our blessings from him, not only with finances, but also with our time and talents. It is sad to see someone who has great talent not utilize their gifts for God’s glory. It’s so easy to say, “Just let someone else do it.” But your unique skill set is needed today. Ask God to give you opportunities to operate in it for his glory, then respond in obedience when he does so. When you live a generous life before God and others, everyone wins.
Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G’s Innovation Lab called “The GYM.” Shannon resides in Liberty Township with his wife Ruth, daughter Katherine, and dog Bear.