How Do You Define Generosity?
Perhaps no greater definition of generosity exists than the twelve words that form John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son.” (ESV)
What could be more generous than the birth of our Savior? His cradle wasn’t the cradle of a king. There was no fine wood, no silk sheet, or a soft velvet blanket. He was laid in a feeding trough, surrounded by barn animals.
Here we are confronted by the fact that generosity is only as good as the extent of its willingness to sacrifice.
There is more: the Cross must be the ultimate definition of generosity. There is nothing that could compete with Christ’s willingness to suffer injustice, torture, and death. A perfect man was willing to bear the penalty of people who ignored his presence, stole his glory, and rebelled against his divine authority.
But Jesus wasn’t just willing; he found joy in doing so! (“For the joy that was set before him endured the cross” – Hebrews 12:2) Generosity is never begrudging or forced; it is motivated by joy more than duty.
Along with the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, here are five more ways that God displays his generosity to me and you every day.
1. The Generosity of Accepting Love
We don’t enjoy just freedom from guilt, shame, and punishment, but we enjoy the full rights and privileges of our new identity as the children of the King. God doesn’t tolerate us like a spurned judge who saw his guilty verdict overturned; he accepts us with the tender love of a Father.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15)
2. The Generosity of Scripture
God provided what is needed for our instruction, our protection, and our ongoing transformation. His Spirit instructs us through the Word.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
3. The Generosity of the Church
Likewise, God uses the teaching of his church and the mutual ministry of the body of Christ to encourage, confront, protect, guide, and mature us.
“The whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)
4. The Generosity of Daily Mercy
With all these gifts, we still have wandering desires and fickle hearts. Yet, in the generosity of patient mercy, he doesn’t strike us in anger. No, he pours mercy down on us, mercies that are fresh every day and form-fit for the trials, temptations, opportunities, and responsibilities of each day.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
5. The Generosity of Eternity
Not only does God generously bless us with spiritual riches in the here and now, but he invites us to an eternity that is rich beyond our imagination. In generous love, he opens the doors of the new heavens and the new earth to us, where sin, suffering, and sorrow will be no more, and we will live in peace and harmony with him and one another forever without end.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
The redemptive narrative of Scripture is the world’s most compelling definition of generosity. So when he calls us to seek his kingdom rather than store up earthly treasures, he is inviting us to join his generosity mission on earth!
Won’t you participate in the story?
Paul David Tripp
1. Who was generous to you recently? What could they have done with their time, energy, or money that they instead gave to you?
2. What is required biblically to define generosity? Are you generous if there is no sacrifice involved? Think of a time when you were proud of your generosity when little (if any) sacrifice was required.
3. Have you ever been seemingly generous on the outside, but with a begrudging and forced heart? What was happening spiritually?
4. How have you experienced the generosity of God this week? List all the ways and number your blessings.
5. How can you stretch yourself to be uncomfortably generous this week, requiring joyful and willing sacrifice? What will you do to participate in God’s generosity narrative?