By Betsy St. Amant Haddox, Crosswalk.com
We all have that core childhood memory of being told to share when we really, really didn’t want to. It was hard back then to be generous with our stuff, and for most of us, it still is.
Simply put, generosity is the quality of being kind and generous. Easy to define, not as easy to perform, right? Yet, the Bible is full of examples for us to model. Giving of our time, resources, finances, and energy is actually a command in Scripture.
Luke 6:30-31 (ESV) "Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."
But the specifics of what that looks like aren’t always given, as we see in other parts of the Bible. Consider 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV): "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
The emphasis here seems to be on the “cheerful” part. Whether we give a little or a lot, our hearts must be in the right place. Going back to the childhood example—are we giving (or sharing) because our mother told us to and we don’t want a spanking, or because our hearts convince us it’s worth it? Are we pouting in the corner with crossed arms, or are we laughing and playing alongside our friends?
Here's the best news—not only is giving a command, but it’s also a benefit. Proverbs 11:25 (ESV): "Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered."
Luke 6:38 (ESV) "…give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
The Bible provides plenty of good reasons to give freely and frequently, so why does that deep-rooted fear still lurk, stopping us from being as generous as we’d like to be? Thankfully, Jesus demonstrated several examples of generosity for us through parables. We have a roadmap to follow as we navigate our fleshly urge to hoard and our fear of scarcity—leading us to a treasure trove of eternal joy and abundance.
Here are three parables that showcase generosity—and how we can apply a spirit of giving to our daily lives:
1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan
These verses in Luke tell a story of a traveler who was treated poorly by all—except one.
Luke 10:30-36 (ESV): Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
This parable is immediately convicting. We’ve all, in some way, turned our back on someone when we had the means to meet their need. Be it tangibly, as with money, or abstractly, like with time or energy, we’ve all played the role of the priest and the Levite. But have we also played the role of the Samaritan? One of the main points of this parable is that the Samaritan was the least likely person to help. Jews considered Samaritans to be filthy and disgusting—they were treated poorly, to put it mildly. Yet, despite the ongoing cultural feud (think Montagues and Capulets times ten!), the Samaritan was the only one who stopped and put his money where his mouth was. (Literally, he paid for the man to stay in a hotel.)
We have no excuse not to give of our finances, time, or figurative resources when we consider this parable that Jesus told. If the Samaritan can sacrificially give against all odds in the face of extreme persecution, who are we to turn our backs on our neighbors?
2. The Parable of the Minas
These verses in Luke tell a tale of a wealthy man who encouraged his servants to make wise investments and the blessing and punishment that came when they showed the results of their stewardship:
Luke 19:12-27 (ESV) says, "He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
We’ve all been given gifts, talents, and resources to use for the kingdom of God, and we’re responsible for what we do with them. Are we hoarding them out of fear, or are we investing wisely, so there’s more to give later? We must use what God has given us—and there are promised rewards in heaven when we do.
3. The Parable of the Wages
These scriptures in Matthew show us that our interpretation of “fair” and “just” isn’t always accurate and that begrudging someone else’s generosity is never the right heart posture to have:
Matthew 20:1-16 (ESV): “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last.”
This parable is such a good example of what Christians often dub “the upside-down kingdom.” In today’s world, it’s very much an “every man for himself” mentality to success. People manipulate, lie, and steal. They throw their friends under the proverbial bus to get ahead at work or attempt to ruin other people’s relationships—even marriages—to get what they want. But this parable clearly shows us that “the last will be first, and the first last,” meaning the more we give, the more we receive. (And vice versa!) Hoarding resources never blessed a Christian—but think how many testimonies exist of miracles that occurred when believers gave what they had in faith.
More importantly, we’re never to begrudge the ultimate example of generosity—that is, Jesus’ finished work on the cross for all who believe.
Photo Credit: ©SparrowStock
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She is a regular contributor to iBelieve.com and offers author coaching and editorial services via Storyside LLC.