“If I give all I possess to the poor and give my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3
This verse communicates two views on generosity and giving—the World’s view and God’s view. When we look at generosity, we might call someone “generous” for contributing to a charitable cause to promote the good of society or consider a person “generous” of their time when they volunteer for a worthy humanitarian cause. But Jesus measured generosity by a radically different standard: The condition of the giver’s heart. The Apostle Paul said that even the most lavish donations are empty acts in God’s sight if the giver’s heart is hardened towards Him. So, a truly generous giver is, first of all, a person who has been reconciled to God through faith in Christ.
The World’s View—When a very rich man gives millions, even billions, of dollars to charity he is held up as a generous person and a good man. And he is, if that’s all there is to it. In the world’s view, that’s enough. He’s a good man. He cares about others. But we know the world only sees the outside, the action. It can’t know the motivation, the intention of the heart.
God’s View—In contrast, Jesus was most favorable to the poor widow who put two pennies in the collection plate, with Jesus stating in Luke 21:4 that… She gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford. She gave her all! That is a clear message that God is not about money, but is about the heart. So we ask ourselves, if our hearts are right with God, how is our giving?
From our perspective, we have struggled over the years with how much to give and when. It seemed like it was more than we could afford and always the wrong time. However, God spoke to us through Malachi 3:10 “…bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have experienced that it is never the wrong time to give back to God and that he always provides for our needs in abundance. Praise be to God!
Questions & Applications
Do you think you are considered generous in the world’s eyes? What about God’s? Examine your heart towards giving—what is your intent? Obedience? Obligation? Joy?
Lord, Thank you for blessing me with all I need and more. Thank you that I can trust you and your care for me. Help me keep your view of generosity in mind and not be swayed by the world’s teachings. Help me keep my heart right when giving, remembering that you not only see my actions, but my intentions as well. Amen.