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By Darrick Young

If I feel like people owe me something, I am not expressing generosity; I am merely participating in a transaction.

You are probably familiar with Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic story A Christmas Carol.

Scrooge is mean, stingy, and self-absorbed. One Christmas Eve he dreams he is visited by three “Christmas ghosts.” They represent Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. Through these visions Scrooge sees what his life has become and how poor he actually is, even though he is the richest man in town. When Scrooge awakens and realizes he is getting the chance to change his narrative, his response is to become extremely generous to those around him. It’s a complete one-eighty.

As Christ-followers, one of the trademarks of our lives should also be generosity. That was the case for the first Christians that we read about in the book of Acts. The author of Acts, a physician named Luke, describes a generous group of people who were willing to sell whatever they had and use the money to meet the needs of others (Acts 2:44-46). They didn’t simply feel sorry for others or offer to pray for them in their times of difficulty; they acted.

I have experienced the “Scrooge” transformation as well. I was born with the same “MINE!” mentality that every child possesses. I tended to think of myself first. But when I became a Christian and asked God to change my life, one of the things that changed was my generosity quotient. God gave me a generous faith. Here are a few things I have learned about generosity from the Bible and from my own experience:

Generosity cannot be mandated, only modeled

The church in Acts didn’t show generosity because church leaders told them they had to sell their possessions and give the money to hurting people. They did it because they wanted to and because of the example that Jesus and His followers had set for them. They gave out of joy, not compulsion. Biblical generosity isn’t about a redistribution of wealth controlled by the church. It’s about reflecting on Jesus’ generosity toward us and imitating that generosity toward others.

Generosity should be a byproduct of our spiritual growth

If someone claims to be growing spiritually as a follower of Christ but is not becoming more generous, I’m not sure how deep their faith really is. Growing in biblical knowledge is not the same as spiritual growth. For the church in Acts, generosity was a fruit of spiritual transformation. Generosity isn’t a financial issue; it’s a spiritual issue.

Generosity has to be with no strings attached

Sometimes I have helped someone only to get burned by that person in the end. When that happens I usually think, “I can’t believe that after all I’ve done for them they would do this to me!” Have you ever thought (or screamed) that? When I feel that way, I am reminded that true generosity can’t be based on reciprocity. If I feel like people owe me something, I am not expressing generosity; I am merely participating in a transaction. Jesus modeled this attitude when He gave His life for you and me knowing that many would reject or abuse that gift. Living generously is living open-handedly, even when you want to curl that hand into a fist and stop giving.

Generosity and joy go hand in hand

The Apostle Paul quotes Jesus and tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Later in the New Testament, Paul tells us that God loves cheerful givers. Generous givers give joyfully. When you and I give generously of all we are, we stop focusing on ourselves as the center of our own story and we experience the joy of generous living. We live lives of generous faith.

Think about the generosity Christ has shown you and ask yourself, “How can I begin to live a more generous life today?”

About The Author

Darrick Young

Darrick Young serves as the lead pastor for Journey Church in Johnston, Iowa, and the church planting director for Open Bible’s Central Region. He and his wife, Ranada, have two children and reside in Grimes, Iowa.