Is your generosity big enough to match up to your faith?
Being a Christian is an all-consuming pursuit. You can’t really, honestly follow Jesus without Him taking hold of every area of your life. Follow Him long enough, and He’ll eventually start telling you what to do with your money.
God has a lot to say about how we should handle our money, and He intends for His people to be big givers. But sometimes giving doesn’t come easily. Sometimes, we have to stretch our generosity to meet the level of our faith.
We spend a lot of our time as Christians endeavoring to live up to the standards that God has set for us. Sometimes we succeed and make a big difference in the world. Sometimes we fail and feel deflated.
Sometimes, we even gauge our worth according to how well we do at displaying our Christian virtues to the people around us. That’s not always a great thing.
God wants us to be successful in this life. He wants us to excel. In fact, he empowers us to excel. And he wants that success to include a robust, heartfelt life of generosity.
For reference, we turn to II Corinthians 8:7, where Paul is encouraging the believers in Corinth to give generously to a collection that will help feed believers in Jerusalem who are suffering a famine.
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Paul has some really kind words to say about the Corinthians here. He thinks that they’re doing a great job of making a difference for Jesus in the world. They excel in many of the characteristic endeavors of Christianity. They’re great people of faith; they know the word of God; they’re eager to do His will; and they love each other fiercely.
Then comes the appeal: Paul says that because they’re doing so well at all of these things, the should also work hard to “excel in this grace of giving.”
Yes, Paul is fundraising here. But there’s something deeper to this passage than just an appeal for money to help needy people. Paul is saying that generosity is just as important a part of Christianity as faith and love.
In modern Christianity, we all struggle with the misguided notion that our value as believers is wrapped up in our performance. And sometimes we go to great lengths to make sure that we’re acting like Christians (and to make sure that others see us acting that way). But if you don’t have a generous heart, all of that good Christian activity rings hollow.
Maturity in the faith requires maturity in generosity. We can dedicate so many areas of our lives to God, give tons of our time to the church and do our best to love people in our community. But if we are not generous — if we hold on to our money with closed hands — then there is a part of our hearts that we haven’t made Jesus lord of yet.
When we surrender to God, He changes everything about our lives. He asks us to work hard, even when our bosses don’t appreciate it. He asks us to soften our hearts towards family members who have hurt us. He asks us to forgive people that don’t deserve it.
He asks us to give our money away freely, even when there are other things that we’d rather be doing with it.
If you want to excel in your faith, I commend you. But if you want to be complete in your Christian walk, you’re going to have to be intentionally generous, just like you are intentionally forgiving.
God wants us all to be excellent Christians. And excellent Christians are excellent givers.
Photo by Knar Bedian. Used under Creative Commons License.