October 13

Generosity to God, Not for People (II Corinthians 9)

Daniel Watts

Developing work in Egypt was our first foray into a non-Eastern European culture—and we’d picked a whopper!

The Arabic culture is dramatically different from anything we Westerners knew, and the ministry context is extremely difficult. Islam hovers over every aspect of life. After doing extensive field research, we finally launched an Egyptian ministry that provides children’s workers in local churches with innovative training/development programs and culturally relevant Arabic Bible teaching materials.

The ministry grew, and the Egyptian leadership approached EGM for assistance in buying a vehicle that the team could use to travel to the many churches already being served.

We felt God leading, so we began looking for people who would be willing to prayerfully consider giving for the purchase of a vehicle. 

I called a young chiropractor whom I’ve known since he was in middle school. He has a successful practice, wonderful Christian family, and the gift of giving. I texted this truly generous soul and set up a meeting time and place.

When the day arrived, he texted me and asked me to pick him up at the Toyota dealership. I met him at the dealer, and he explained that the family’s Toyota SUV had over 100,000 miles on it and seemed to always need repair work.

When we got to talking about EGM’s project, I explained that the EGM-Egypt board of directors wanted to get a new Hyundai station wagon for the ministry: the price tag was over $15,000. I felt weird asking him to pray about helping our ministry buy a new vehicle while his was on its last legs….

That evening he called me and committed a very generous gift that allowed us to purchase the vehicle—and he drove his 100,000+-miles Toyota SUV for years afterward. His giving was unexpected, and because we knew he had a young family and kids in Christian schools, the gift was more than we expected. This man of God was the very picture of generosity.

What Generosity Can Look Like

 What Generosity Can Look Like

Sometimes generosity looks like lunch for 1,250 people. Other times it looks like the widow’s two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents (Mark 12:42).

Sometimes generosity has one or both of these characteristics:

We Give in a Surprising Way – Generosity can mean giving when it’s unexpected. The amount isn’t the focus; the unexpected nature of the gift is. Paul, for instance, encouraged the Gentile Corinthians to give to fellow believers in Jerusalem even though they likely had little or no personal connections with the church there. The brothers and sisters in Jerusalem would see the Corinthians’ giving as a surprising expression of generosity.

We Give More Than Expected – Whether it’s the nature of the project, the wealth of the individual, or any of a variety of factors, certain circumstances tend to establish some kind of expectation about the size of the gift. When the giver exceeds that expectation, the generosity is perceived as lavish grace.

Our challenge in ministry leadership is to help God’s people to become generous givers who give in unexpected ways and who give more than is expected.

When we give generously, we experience the blessing of receiving the joy that comes with giving; the blessing of increasing righteousness as we please God by doing what is right in His eyes; and the blessing of lavishly worshipping God who has loved us with infinite generosity in Jesus Christ.

On the well-traveled road, though, generosity is often focused primarily on the amount and the horizontal relationship between giver and recipient. A person who gives $200,000 to the building project is generous, and a person who gives $200 is not.

The giver who gives to help buy a car for the ministry is generous, but the person who gives money for the office paper clips is not. Such comparisons are unintended fruit of the horizontal relationship between giver and receiver becoming the primary focus of giving.

But when the primary focus is giving to God, the amount is truly immaterial. In fact, it is entirely possible that a $200,000 gift is not as generous as it seems, and a $200 gift can be a costly sacrifice and the ultimate act of generosity.

On the road less traveled, we focus on being generous to God. Our generosity is not primarily extended for the sake of others; instead, our generosity is first and foremost an act of worshipping God.

He has poured out His lavish love for us in Christ Jesus, and when we give generously, we are expressing our great love for God.

The Road Well Traveled: Generous giving may unleash trillions of dollars of kingdom resources. Generosity frees us from materialism and can fuel ministry.

The Road Less Traveled: Our generosity is a way to lavish our love on God. Generosity can free us from materialism and fuel kingdom ministry work. 

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