Living “The Life That is Truly Life”Pam Franz
A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25
Money is a tough enough topic for a lot of folks, but put the focus on giving and many people get really uncomfortable. So, feeling much like I’m stepping into a lion’s den, I’d like to inch my way into an honest conversation about generosity.
Before you click away, let me just bottom-line my overarching point of view. Far too many of us are missing out on one of the most joyful—and one of the most effective—uses of money.
I’m not at all a fan of the prosperity gospel. In fact, I think it’s an affront to God to give out of a motivation for getting something in return. As the apostle Paul said, “Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35)
Good question. God is the giver. We are the recipients. Every time we give to our church or other ministry, we’re simply giving back some of what God first gave us.
Which is why it can be challenging to fully understand verses such as Proverbs 11:25:
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
Or Luke 6:38:
Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. (NLT)
In no way are we to interpret such verses as teaching, “give in order to get.” Giving is best motivated not by an “in order to…” perspective, but by a “because of…” Perspective — because of God’s love for us.
And yet, it’s clear that there are blessings that come our way when we live generously. It’s simply that we were designed to live that way. It’s like eating healthy and getting enough exercise. Our lives work better when we choose to live as we were designed to live.
The Bible says we were made in God’s image, and God is endlessly generous. That means generosity is woven into our spiritual DNA. To live generously is to live in concert with how we were made and what we were made to be about.
And yet, many of us either have not heard that we were designed to live that way or we’re consciously choosing not to live that way.
A recent article in Christianity Today, citing various studies about generosity, described this in stark detail:
- According to Nonprofit Source, nationwide, Christians today give 2.5 percent of their income, only 5 percent of church members give regularly, and 37 percent of those who consider themselves evangelicals do not give to churches at all.
- According to a study from the University of Notre Dame, only 2.7 percent of people, religious or nonreligious, give at the level of a tithe (10% of income).
- According to a 2017 Barna Group study, 84 percent of millennials report to giving less than $50 to charity per year, even though charitable giving ranks high on their priorities.
Listing these research findings isn’t intended to shame anyone or make anyone feel guilty. Mostly it’s to say, “Wow, I’m surprised.” And it’s also to say I think too many of us are missing out on “the life that is truly life.”
I’d like to encourage you to spend some time this week reflecting on “why am I not giving, or not giving very much?” What’s holding you back from living more generously? Or, if you are giving generously, is there a next step you sense God encouraging you to take with your generosity?