By: Scott Armstrong
I recently heard an interview with author Art Rainer, where he spoke about a Scriptural focus on giving and money. I later found many excellent resources at his website, where at one point he highlights the four Biblical principles of generosity. As I spell those out below, I’ll also offer some of my personal thoughts.
- Giving needs to be a priority.
- Proverbs 3:9 urges us to “honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.” The concept of firstfruits is all over the Old Testament, and the concept can be traced back to Abel giving a better sacrifice than his brother Cain. This principle extends into the New Testament as we are consistently urged to give our first and our best.
2. Giving is to be done proportionally.
- We give according to what God has given us. Luke 12:48 reminds us that, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Rainer details how this principle indicates that we should prioritize percentage-based giving, making sure to tithe to a local church even when we feel led to give to other charities or non-profits. That focus on local congregations is one of the things I most appreciate about Rainer’s writing: he recognizes the local church as God’s essential plan to impact the world.
3. Giving is to be sacrificial.
- In Luke 21, Jesus sees many rich individuals giving their offerings. He also saw a poor widow put in two tiny copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he says to his disciples, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on” (v. 3-4). Later, the apostle Paul brags on the impoverished Macedonian churches in 2 Corinthians 8 because “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (v. 4). Scripture is clear: giving is not always comfortable. Biblical generosity rarely means giving out of surplus. It requires sacrifice.
4. Giving is to be done cheerfully.
- Many of us are aware of 2 Corinthians 9:7 where we see that God loves a cheerful giver. But the verses before and after provide important context: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Joyful giving comes as a result of God’s abundant blessing, but also produces even greater blessing in our lives! As Rainer says, “Grumpy giving is not godly giving.”
The Bible offers us some clear principles for giving our resources to others. We are to make it a priority and give in the same way that God has given to us. Even as we sacrifice, we will cheerfully choose to be generous. Now, may our commitment be to not just learn these four principles, but to live them out as well.