“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25, NIV)
The purpose of giving could also be called the paradox of giving. The unmistakable reality of living a generous life leads to something more.
Giving is good for me. There are distinct and real results to living generously. Read that verse again… “a generous person will prosper”. How can that be if I give something away? How can I gain by subtraction? God’s promises are not limited by our human logic. The reality is that living as someone who “refreshes others” is a reflection of God the Father. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Even so, how does reflecting our Heavenly Father bring prospering?
Joy. There is great joy and discovery in living generously – refreshing others. There is an unmistakeable connection between joy and giving. Why? Take a moment and think of two or three people that display a spirit of generosity on a regular basis. What is the countenance and attitude? Are they generally joy-filled? Or is there apprehension in their generosity? Are you refreshed when you are in their company? I have found generous people to be the most encouraging and engaging people to converse. There is a contagious spirit about them that makes me want what they have. It is truly rare to encounter someone who is generous and angry. Generosity does something to your soul. And I advocate that giving to the work of Christ through the local church does something for your soul that cannot be duplicated in any other outlet. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV). My discovery has been that the “cheerful” part comes with giving – even before I give.
Perspective. Consider Jesus’ teaching to “seek first the Kingdom of God” in Matthew 6:33. The most important pursuit(s) in this earthly life is not money or possessions or even my earthly family. The most important pursuit in this earthly life is heavenly perspective (I know, another paradox). As your pursuit is clarified, perspective is gained. Or rather, perspective continues to be gained… it is a process of discovery; fascinating discovery! Think of it like this: when a child is seven, parents are so smart and bring such great understanding and clarity to the world’s questions. Add ten years to the child’s life and everyone older than twenty-five is clueless. Add another thirty years to the teen’s life and the realization of ignorance hits him in the face with a seventeen year old child of his own. Perspective. Heavenly perspective that informs life’s choices and pursuits. Heavenly perspective that reveals the value of refreshing others, loving your neighbor, and living with an open hand rather than a clenched fist.
Honor. Luke 16 gives us a picture of being faithful with our money/possessions. I’m always struck by “You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13, NIV). This warning does not restrict us from having money. It is a guardrail for us to navigate the pathway of life. Guardrails keep us on the best path. Consider the reaction of the Pharisees, “who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus” (16:14). Our attitude toward money is one of the ways in which we bring honor to the Lord. The Bible gives us guardrails as protectors. Staying within the guardrails is not choosing the easy path, it choosing to live the best life that the Creator has designed for us. The handling of money and possessions is not exempt from biblical instruction; in fact, the challenge of holding the love of money at bay is throughout scripture. This instruction is given so that we may live life to the fullest.
Living a life of generosity is good for me. Generosity brings joy and joy brings generosity. Heavenly perspective aligns my pursuits to the heart of Christ. Following God’s instruction on money, giving, and possession leads to a fuller experience of His plan for our lives.
The ultimate purpose of giving is the same as our earthly lives: to bring honor and praise to God. The Israelites were commissioned to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6); in other words, be the hands and feet of God and reflect His nature and goodness to others. Our resources should empower this lifestyle and calling.