Generosity is always a risk. There’s always something else you could do with your money, always a worst case scenario you could plan for. But for those of you willing to take the risk, step into the unknown with God, and love more, here are seven ways to be radically generous.
1. Show hospitality to strangers. A meal at a friend’s home is pretty special. An invite to a strangers home is like a sunrise in the west… it doesn’t happen. Yet the Bible calls to us, saying, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” (Hebrews 13:2) And again, “Seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:13) Hospitality has a unique power to show the generous character of our God who welcomes strangers to his table. So as the holidays approach, who could you invite to your table? And how could you help others taste and see that the Lord is good?
2. Comfort those in anguish. The story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is a frightening example so relevant for us today. Like the rich man, we’re in danger of using our wealth to pile up comforts for ourselves, instead of making friends for eternity. We’re in danger of ignoring the poor and the suffering right around us. Radical (& biblical) generosity makes us ask: How could we use the wealth God has given us to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the poor? On the last day, our comfort of the least of these will be one way Jesus judges the reality of our faith in him.
3. Give to everyone who asks of you. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he said, “Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42) You could try practicing this for a month by pre-deciding that if someone asks for money or asks to borrow something than you will give to everyone who asks of you. And when you give plan to tell them why. Tell them God has given so much to you, most of all by giving His one and only son. This exercise is a chance to reorient the impulse of you heart to be towards giving instead of protecting what you have. It’s an opportunity to believe that God is abundantly generous and will richly supply your needs as well.
4. Forgive your debtors. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said, “And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4) What if you decided to give others a picture of God’s amazing forgiveness by meeting with the people who owe you money and forgiving them? You could joyfully tell them that Jesus has forgiven you of your debt of sin and you want to forgive their debt as a picture of what God has done for you. Tell them it’s been canceled. The penalty has been covered. They are free and clear. Or you could help a young couple pay off their student loans. Both would powerfully picture what God has done for us with our sin.
5. Settle old accounts. After Zacchaeus met Jesus his relationship with money was dramatically altered. He said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) Has your use of money changed since you met Jesus? Maybe it’s time for you to settle old accounts, pay people back, restore what you stole, and show others that Jesus is a better possession.
6. Send out workers. In the little book of 3 John we meet a man named Gaius who generously sent out a few gospel preachers to preach. The apostle John encouraged him, “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name…” Romans 10:15 says something similar: “How are they to preach unless they are sent?” Both passages call us to be partners in the gospel by sending out those who will preach the good news to others. So what evangelistic efforts does your church have that you could support? What youth outreach is being done? What college ministries are seeing conversions? What new church-plants need resourcing? What Bible college and seminary students could you help launch into ministry? Who could you send?
7. Tell them no inheritance will do. We are living through the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. Many parents and grandparents are passing down huge sums to their next of kin… but in a world of money-grabbing relatives, tell yours that no inheritance will do. Tell them you want them to have the joy of using it to advance God’s kingdom. Tell them you trust God with your future. Tell them you’ve already been promised an inheritance “that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)
Our radical generosity springs from the source of God’s radical generosity. It’s not a work we do to earn God’s favor. It’s not a penance we pay to atone for our sins. Generosity is our joyful response to the one who was rich, yet for our sake became poor, so that by his poverty, we might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
–Copyright John Rinehart
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