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What Comes First–Joy or Generosity?

It’s a “chicken-or-the-egg” question.

Over the years that I’ve coached Christians seeking to make a difference in God’s Kingdom, I’ve learned a few things about giving. The first is that giving is central to the life of a Christian. Any Christian who is not giving generously is missing one of the core tenants of being a Christian. God gave His Son, His Son’s life, His Holy Spirit, and His resources to dispense to a broken world.

The second thing is that giving is not limited to money. It also includes time and talent. Our opportunity is simple: Receive God’s grace and love. Pass that grace and love onto others using the resources God’s given us.

The pinnacle of joy
So this brings us back to the question we started with: Does the joy of the Lord spur on generosity? Or does generosity lead to joy? My belief is that while giving can make us feel good, the deepest joy we’ll ever know comes from our relationship with God. “In thy presence is the fullness of joy” Psalm 16:11.
The more the realization of God’s love for us grows—and the more we see our resources as gifts from Him—the more we’ll want to give. The pinnacle of our joy comes from what we have been given, not from what we are giving. Generosity is an outflow of joy, not necessarily a means to it.

Make a plan
This still begs the question of where and how to give. I have witnessed people run around willy-nilly giving time, talent, and treasure away and end up exhausted and disillusioned. Not to mention that random giving is poor management of a resource God gave you to oversee. My advice on building a joyful giving strategy is simple:  Find a cause that makes you mad, sad, or glad.

Research organizations addressing that cause with excellence.
Create a giving strategy with your spouse (if you’re married) that starts slow: how much and when?
Monitor the impact of your giving and pray if giving more is the right thing to do.
Be wise about over-endowing a ministry; it can lead to sloppiness and poor stewardship.

On Thursday, I’ll share a tool to help you with the first three questions. With so many needs in the world, I have found that the most joyful givers zero in on the causes they have passion for.

Jeff Spadafora

About Author

Jeff Spadafora

Jeff Spadafora is the Director of Global Coaching Services for the Halftime Institute (www.halftime.org), an organization dedicated to helping successful people discover God’s purpose for their second half of life and move from success to significance. He is also author of the highly acclaimed The Joy Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Peace, Purpose and Balance.

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