“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:24-25, NLT).
Many times, when we think of generosity, we think of money. Does that mean we cannot be generous if we have no money to share? Absolutely not! A generous spirit is possible, even if we have zero money in our pocket.
What is a generous spirit? It has been defined as “doing or giving more than is usual or expected” (collinsdictionary.com). Although an accurate definition, this description does not go far enough. Someone with a generous spirit lives life with an open hand. They give without any thought or expectation of receiving something in return. Their focus is on helping others.
Generosity takes many forms. We can show it by how we use our time, our talents, and even our words. Kind and encouraging words, a listening ear, and warm hospitality all demonstrate a giving spirit. It is evident when we show love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Matthew 10:42 says that offering a cup of cold water is a mark of true discipleship and a generous spirit.
The Bible gives numerous examples of how a generous spirit looks in day-to-day life.
- Dorcas (Tabitha) was “full of good works and charitable deeds” (Acts 9:36, ESV). Her generosity included sewing garments for widows, although she no doubt did much more. She used her time and her talents to bless others.
- Ruth’s generous spirit led her to tenderly care for Naomi, her widowed mother-in-law. She left friends and family behind to accompany Naomi to Bethlehem. God blessed Ruth with a loving husband and a child. (Read her story in the Book of Ruth.)
- A young boy carrying a lunch of five small loaves and two fish offered what he had—meager though it was—to Jesus. That day he and thousands more enjoyed eating fish and bread as the Lord multiplied that small lunch into a satisfying meal for everyone (John 6).
- The widow of Zarephath used the last of her oil and meal to make bread for the prophet Elijah. This was a sacrificial act of faith. Just a little was enough when God blessed it. He then sustained her household throughout the years of famine (I Kings 17).
- Joseph provided for his brothers and their families during a great famine, even though they had sold him into slavery (Genesis 45). He could have sought revenge but generously chose to forgive (Genesis 50).
Each of those mentioned above chose to live with an open hand. They took what they had—whether great or small—and used it to bless others. God, in turn, rewarded their generosity with His own generosity.
God often sends His blessings to us in unique and unexpected ways. We may find a needed item on a half-price sale. Or someone may take us to lunch and pick up the tab. Perhaps our blessing will be something as simple as an encouraging phone call at just the right time. Or a friend may help fix a flat tire or do a home repair. God blesses us in meaningful ways to meet our needs just as we meet the needs of others.
True generosity flows from the heart. It is never forced. Keeping our hands open allows blessings to flow from us and then back to us. We are refreshed as we have refreshed others. God will not bless a stingy spirit, but He loves watching us cheerfully use what we have to bless others.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7, ESV)
A generosity of spirit sounds a lot like cheerfully serving others without expecting anything back. It sounds like how Jesus would do it!
Lord, You have blessed me in so many ways through the years. Sometimes it was financial, but other times it was through the kindnesses of others. Help me to serve You with a generous spirit and look for ways to serve others in Your name. Every blessing I receive comes from You.
Other verses to meditate upon: Proverbs 22:9, Acts 20:35, II Corinthians 9:5-7, I Timothy 6:18-19, Hebrews 13:16, James 2:15-16.