Have you ever noticed how your worship leader at church is such a great singer… and perhaps you are not?
Look around the body of Christ, and you’ll find many different people with many different gifts. The gifts of your worship leaders may be some of the most obvious, because they exercise them at the front of the room every week. There’s no doubt that great singers have been blessed by God with great voices; the best singers have strengthened that gift over the years with diligence practice. If you wanted to, you could practice and grow your singing talents as well, though you might never reach the level that a gifted singer naturally attains. But in the end, one thing is certain: Whether you have a beautiful voice or can’t carry a tune, God wants everyone to sing.
We were all made to be givers. But not all givers are created equal.
So it goes with giving. We were all made to be givers. But not all givers are created equal. When we study the scripture, we see that generosity is a spiritual give that has been bestowed on some people in abundance. Understanding that shapes the way that we approach giving in our lives and in the Kingdom of God.
We’ve spent the past few weeks in the “God’s Master Plan” section of this site exploring some of the philosophical foundations of wealth and their implication in today’s world. We’ve discussed how all work is God’s work, how financial blessing brings God glory, and how those of us who are blessed with wealth have a responsibility to use it in godly ways. Much of what that requires is that we use our resources to take care of the poor in our world — something that the church is called to do, and does much better than the government can.
Giving is a gift
Today’s study dives a little bit deeper into the role that each of us has to play in the financial work of the Kingdom. While all of us are called to give generously, God has ordained some people to be super-givers. Check out this passage from Romans 12:6-8, which deals with spiritual gifts in the church:
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Many of the things that Paul lists in this passage are spiritual gifts that we are well familiar with: Some people are gifted in prophecy, others in serving, others in teaching, others in encouraging, etc. In fact, you may have spent time in your church studying these spiritual gifts, trying to determine which of them is most active in your life. But did you notice that, hidden in the middle of verse 8, this scripture mentions generosity? “If it is giving,” the passage says, “then give generously.”
God sees generosity as an important spiritual gift, in the same context with other high-profile functions in the church.
This verse underscores the importance of generosity and its role in the church. Giving may never turn you into a celebrity Christian like leading, teaching, prophesying (or singing, which isn’t even mentioned in this passage). But God sees generosity as an important spiritual gift, listing it in the same context with these other high-profile functions in the church. And just like He has given certain people special talents and personality traits to excel in these other areas, He has also blessed some of us with talents and gifts to be used for extraordinary generosity.
Are you gifted in giving?
So, what does this mean for you? Well, its application is going to depend a lot on what God is doing in your life. If you think that you may have the spiritual gift of generosity, you need to begin to steward that gift in your life. If you’ve been blessed by God with big financial resources, He probably also intends for you to be a big giver.
If you’re the kind of person who feels compelled to give to the church, to ministries or to people in need — the kind of person who longs to bless and provide for those in need — that’s a good sign that you may have the gift of generosity too. If you do, then it’s especially important for you to become a master of your finances, because if you don’t manage your resources well, you’ll never be able to give them the way that God wants. But if you do submit this area of your life to God, be prepared to see big financial increase over time, because He has big plans for you to give very generously.
Am I off the hook?
Now, to all those of you who don’t have the spiritual gift of generosity: You may be secretly breathing a sigh of relief. In the back of your mind, perhaps you’re thinking that you’re off the hook for giving, because the generosity-gifted people will take care of it for you. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not true at all. Even though you may not be gifted with extraordinary generosity, you are still called to give.
Some people are endowed with the resources to be extraordinarily generous. But we are all supposed to give.
In fact, this works just like any other spiritual gift. Just because some people are called to full-time evangelism doesn’t mean the rest of us are off the hook for sharing the gospel, because God wants us all to spread the good news. You may not have the gift of teaching, but there will be times in your life when God asks you to teach. Some people are gifted in encouragement, but we are all made to be encouragers. So it goes with giving: Some people are called by God — and endowed with the resources — to be extraordinarily generous. But we are all supposed to give.
When your worship leader sings, it encourages you to sing, whether you’re talented or not. The worship team has a responsibility to lead, and we have a call from God to follow them. The same goes with generosity. Those that God has gifted with generosity have an obligation to exercise that gift to the glory of God and the benefit of His kingdom. And the rest of us should be inspired to follow their example and give in the very best way that we can.
Photo by Stevan Sheets. Used under Creative Commons License.