God called the Israelites to give the first of their crops. Without guarantees of the rest of the harvest, the Israelites gave not because God needed those crops but to show their dependence on God. In the same way, our giving demonstrates that we know we need God more than anything, that he provides for us all we need, and that our vision for happiness and the good life extends beyond this life.
A lack of generosity in our lives often points to a lack of trust in God to provide for our material and spiritual needs as he sees fit.
Prayerfully journal about the areas you have a hard time trusting God with. It might be physical needs. It might be a relationship that you approach with a stingy heart. It might be how you hold back in church out of a fear of not being enough, of rejection, or of depletion. What do you need to surrender to God? How do you need him to fill you up in these places?
God can shape our character through the habits that we develop. In your journal, jot down ideas for simple, everyday ways to give of your resources, time, talents, prayer life, and empathy. How can you create grooves of generosity in your life?
Sometimes God gives us big dreams for big acts of generosity—hosting a regular community barbecue in our front yard, opening up our homes to foster children, establishing a scholarship for underprivileged kids, starting a business that gives teenaged moms an opportunity to provide for their children, building a school in Africa. Spend some time praying about these ideas and write them down. You never know what God will accomplish.
We are generous because God has been generous with us. In your journal, write down how you have experienced God’s generosity in your life in the past and how you continue to experience it. Think about the people God has used to provide for you and to spiritually transform you. Consider keeping a journal of the ways others are generous with you in small and big things and of the ways God is generous with you on a daily basis.
Generous hearts will respond to those in need, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, with compassion. Pay attention to the people God leads to you and how you can lead them to God through a generous spirit that mirrors God’s magnanimity. Look for opportunities of hospitality.
In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis writes an imaginary tale of a Dante-esque trip through heaven and hell. In heaven, the protagonist comes upon a procession for a great lady. She is accompanied by boys and girls, musicians, and “gigantic people . . . like emeralds . . . who are dancing and throwing flowers before her.” His guide says though she wasn’t someone many would have heard of on earth, she is “one of the great ones . . . Every young man or boy that met her became her son—even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.” This lady treated everyone she met as family out of her generous spirit.
A generous heart fulfills Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). How can you extend God’s generous love to others?