Six Principles to Encourage Generosity

Posted by Brian Sayers on January 29, 2023
Six Principles to Encourage Generosity

The leadership at Faith is extremely thankful for the faithfulness of our church family in regard to giving.

Though we had an unusual downturn in giving this past fall, our decision to teach a January sermon series on stewardship was a decision made last August, months before the downturn. We simply had a desire to “stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Peter 1:13) in the matter of stewardship.

Money is actually discussed by Jesus in Scripture more than any other topic. With so many new members over the last few years at Faith, we thought it would be healthy for us to encourage the church to continue in the things it has learned, and to be steadfast in practicing what has been a virtue at Faith for many years.

The Dominion series has focused on three overarching principles: (1) God is the owner of all we have, (2) good stewardship requires discernment about debt, and (3) God calls His children to have a generous heart. I have been personally challenged and blessed by teaching on these topics over the years.

As a wrap-up to the series, here are a few principles I’ve learned, to expand on and overlap with the things we have heard about together as a church family. I hope it solidifies your understanding and commitment to live those principles out.

“By joyfully sacrificing our resources for the sake of God and the Gospel, we are putting the magnificent worthiness of God, His kingdom, and His mission on display. ”

1. Giving is an act of worship.

In Paul’s thanksgiving to the Philippians for contributing to his church-planting ministry, he refers to their financial gift as “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18). Using the language of Old Testament sacrifice and worship, Paul was showing how both he and God saw their giving as an act of worship! Every gift offered to God should be done as a heartfelt expression of worship.

By joyfully sacrificing our resources for the sake of God and the Gospel, we are putting the magnificent worthiness of God, His kingdom, and His mission on display. Our giving says, “This is a Person and a cause worth sacrificing everything for.”

That said, a practical way to remember that giving is worship is to offer a word of thanks or praise to God as you place your offering in the plate (or as it passes if you give online).

2. Giving is the fruit and evidence of God’s grace at work in us.

Paul referred to the giving of money toward the work of the ministry as “abound(ing) in this gracious work” (2 Corinthians 8:7, NASB). That term “gracious work” is the same term used to refer to a manifestation of our spiritual gifts. In other words, desiring and offering gifts to God is a manifestation of grace, a living expression of God’s power and favor at work in our hearts. Apart from God’s work in our hearts, we could not have a proper perspective on our material possessions or a willingness to give them up for the sake of others or the work of God’s kingdom.

3. Giving has many proper biblical motivations.

Giving can be motivated by a desire to express worship (Philippians 4:18), a desire to simply show love toward others who are in need (Galatians 2:10; James 1:27), or a desire to receive the reward of God’s promised blessing in return (2 Corinthians 9:6, 10-11). It can even be motivated by all of them at the same time, as we see was true of the church at Philippi (see Philippians 4:10-19).

There are many reasons to give, as well as many ways to be generous with others in the church. The regular weekly offering is perhaps the primary way. But giving to our Care Fund to help the needy (collected the first Sunday of every month) and giving to specific missionaries or ministries are also valid.

“If you invest your money and your possessions in eternal things, in heavenly things, then your heart will be increasingly drawn to heavenly hopes and realities.”

4. Giving sets the direction your heart will travel.

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Keeping your investments earthly will keep your heart tied to the earth. But, if you invest your money and your possessions in eternal things, in heavenly things, then your heart will be increasingly drawn to heavenly hopes and realities.

If our attaining of earthly possessions overshadows our investment in the ministry of eternal truth, then our hearts will sadly become more interested in our earthly goods. Wonderfully, the opposite is also true: Invest in eternity and be heavenly-minded!

5. Giving is a divinely ordained investment strategy.

Jesus also said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, … but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19a, 20a, NASB). This is a promise from God that as we invest in the right things, that God will provide a return on our investment through heavenly reward. Certainly, more important that any kind of material blessing that might be received is the eternal blessing of investing your resources into Gospel ministry that bears the fruit of souls being rescued from sin and death forever.

Jesus said, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). He is saying you can make friends in heaven by investing in Gospel ministry that results in people you don’t even know giving their lives and hearts to Christ—eternal friends! Investing in Gospel ministry like this is the context in which Jesus says “You cannot serve [both] God and money” (Luke 16:13).

6. Giving generously invites God’s abundant blessing.

We are taught in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” This is not a promise that he will bless in a certain amount, or at a particular time, or even in the way that we desire. But it is a promise that faithful giving always invites God’s abundant blessing. He is sovereignly in control of our lives and takes delight in blessing and rewarding His faithful children.

That this is not an absolute and specific promise is what makes this general principle very different from the specific promises falsely held out by “prosperity gospel” adherents. But their specific errors (or lies!) do not invalidate the general principle. Jesus said, “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” (Luke 6:38).

Ultimately, giving is primarily a matter of cheerful sacrificial worship with eternal benefits. But the reward begins here, as we experience the joy of living faithfully as wise stewards of all that God has given us—and often we get to see how our sacrifice blesses others to the glory of God.

May God’s grace abound toward our Faith family, so that we can be faithful in every way to His heavenly investment strategy.

Brian Sayers

Brian is the Pastor of Counseling & Equipping at Faith Bible Church. He is passionate about the local church, and equipping the saints to effectively serve one another. Before coming to Spokane, he spent 14 years serving God's people as a pastor in rural New England (Vermont & New Hampshire).

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