Scripture reminds us of a simple truth, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
This can be an uncomfortable reminder, especially for those who hold tightly to wealth or restrict giving or fail to see the benefits that come from supporting the greater church. It can be especially difficult to give to that which you stay away from, except only in those rare Sundays or special occasions, or resist the call of God to refresh weekly where He dwells so closely to you. It can be difficult when we fail to come and to hear His voice. It is easy to spend money on ourselves, but how do we also spend money on things that truly last without allowing ourselves to become uncomfortable and actually believe?
As we see the pumpkins return it is also a reminder that autumn is here and soon winter will be upon us once again. The earth will lie fallow and covered, but God will still be working deep where no one is the wiser. It is a time of thanksgiving and generosity and a time to return home. It is a time of healing, and of hope, and of grace.
A mindset of generosity is needed now ore than ever! This mindset sees giving as a blessing, anticipates God’s provision, and doesn’t fear lacking. God can bless us abundantly, so that in all things, and at all times, having all that we need, we will abound in every good work. This is what a generous heart brings to the world and to self. A mindset of generosity looks for opportunities to give–and rejoices in providing for others. A mindset of generosity ultimately results in a happier, fuller life rooted in the belief that there is always enough.
But unfortunately, many of us don’t operate from a mindset of generosity. When it comes to giving, we often think we can only give what we can spare, or what’s left over after we’ve paid our regular expenses. We find ourselves tipping God less than the local food server. We fear being generous, especially when things look tight. And we don’t always trust that God will provide for us when we provide for others. So, we cut off the church giving and then grumble as our life falls apart.
So then the benefits of generosity are worth a look, especially as we enter a season of rethinking and reprioritizing. While God’s Word is our source for giving joyfully, even the secular world recognizes the blessing of generosity.
A 2018 paper published by UC Berkeley explained why humans were designed to be generous, and why people who give their time, goods, and resources experience positive benefits. “Giving social support—time, effort, or goods—is associated with better overall health in older adults, and volunteering is associated with delayed mortality,” explains the paper, and spending money on others with psychological benefits and even future motivation to give. Some studies have found that people are happier when spending money on others than on themselves, and this happiness motivates them to be generous in the future and makes them happier in return!
Ultimately, of course, being generous is about obeying the Word of God and looking to the welfare of others. To get there we must abandon the barriers to giving; not just for the benefit of places like Saint Miriam, but to the global good of those in need.
So, then if God calls us to generosity, then what’s keeping us from being cheerful givers? We might battle any number of factors when it comes to being generous, including cultural factors, financial challenges, upbringing, specific fears, but regardless of the balance in our checking account, generosity starts with having the right mindset.
The truth is simple: everyone has a role to play in giving and supporting. Every gift helps. As shown in the story of the widow with the two coins, Scripture shows us that giving is not about how much you give; it’s about the heart. This isn’t about God as some form of a cosmic “slot machine.” It’s about an expectation that God rewards a generous heart. God won’t necessarily give you all your material wealth back, but He will take care of you in ways beyond our imagination. We are living proof of that! Look at what God has done with the generosity of Saint Miriam to impact the world!
From a worldly perspective, it might look foolish to regularly tithe a percentage of your income, or to make a generous donation with no promise of return. But radical generosity is wisdom, according to the Bible. “….give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
The salient point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one of us must give as he or she has decided in their heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Are we willing to be a “cheerful giver”?