Generosity is unselfishly sharing with others, especially with those in need. Generosity creates a magnanimous heart—people who are big-hearted and not petty.
My exposure to generosity comes first from the influence of my father and mother who were both generous people. They were methodical in their giving of their tithes to their church. My father made out his tithes check early every Sunday morning. It was an important event for him, and he cheerfully gave it each week. My dad loved to help people in need, especially with his skills and equipment. He would do this with regularity but never broadcast what he did.
Generosity has to be experienced to know its benefits, as Solomon tells us, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Prov 11:25). In giving, there is a sense of substance, that you have done something that has meaning.
Our giving is a thermometer of what is going on in our soul. It is a response to God’s grace in our lives. If we have experienced redemption, then we will be moved from our former selfish living to generous giving. Look what happened to Zacchaeus when he experienced redemption. He gave half of all he owned to the poor and paid back the people he had defrauded four times over.
The Apostle Paul demonstrated generous giving this way, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor 9:6-7). If we give with a generous heart, the same way a farmer sows who wants a bountiful crop, then we will experience the results in so many different ways. Giving is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but a way of life. Paul says you give because you want to and not because you feel compelled.
When it comes to sharing what God has given us, the challenge for us is not how much we have or do not have, but our obedience to the Spirit who prompts us. The generous, giving heart is enabled to give with cheerfulness and gratitude. When you accept the challenge to give, God provides in ways you cannot even imagine. Generosity is a character trait that is a process in which we are always learning and living. Giving always involves some risk—the risk of what will be the reception, what will happen with our gift, and will I run out if I give this? You will not run out! You may have to trust God in tight places, but you will not run out.
Moses taught the people of Israel that God wanted them to be generous in their giving and to be opened-handed toward people in need (Deut 15:10-11). I once heard Corrie Ten Boon speak, and she had us all make fists. Then she had us open our hands, as she said this is how God wants us to live. If you do not open your hands, it will hurt while God pries your fingers open.
Generosity makes us tenderhearted. This tenderness is precisely what Paul says happens to those who give, “And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you” (2 Cor 9:14). The best way to keep the green monster of envy at bay is to give, and each time you do, you soften your heart to those around you.