I’ve been reading a lot of news on the stock market lately. There was the rise and fall of Game Stop stock where a group of people decided to invest in it to drive the price up in order to stick it to some Wall Street people. Bitcoin has surged after taking a nose dive a couple of years ago. Investors have been on a wild ride lately. Some keep predicting that this is a bubble and it will pop at some point. Others who have never invested are jumping in trying to get rich quick by taking advantage of buying a low stock in hopes that it will have explosive growth. Others are in it for the long haul knowing their investments will increase slowly and steadily over time. The one constant is that if you don’t invest, you won’t have the opportunity to grow your money in that system.
Sometimes we get wrapped up in this world’s economy trying to make our lives better that we forget God has an economy too. We all have the opportunity to invest in it as well. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus said, “Don’t keep hoarding for yourselves earthly treasures that can be stolen by thieves. Material wealth eventually rusts, decays, and loses its value. Instead, stockpile heavenly treasures for yourselves that cannot be stolen and will never rust, decay, or lose their value. For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure” (TPT). It doesn’t say don’t seek or make money. It says don’t hoard it or store it up. You can invest those treasures in the heavenly economy by putting them to use for Kingdom purposes.
1 Timothy 6:18-19 says, “Remind the wealthy to be rich in remarkable works of extravagant generosity, willing to share with others. These spiritual investments will provide a beautiful foundation for their lives and secure for them a great future, as they lay their hands upon the meaning of true life.” Giving is a spiritual investment in the heavenly economy. I realize this verse is talking to the rich, but each of us have the opportunity to invest in heavenly treasures. God’s principle of giving works whether you invest a little or a lot. When you give, it will be given unto you. Giving is simply showing God that you don’t value the earthly economy over the heavenly one. It’s a way to show Him you can be faithful over a little so He can trust you with a lot. There are lots of ways to give and invest in His economy. This life is a vapor, but heaven will be for eternity. Invest wisely.
Over twenty years ago, I started paying attention to the people around me that had the most money. I was looking for similarities to see if there was anything I could replicate. They all worked in different fields with different positions. Some were very educated and some were not. One of the things I noticed that was similar between all of them was that they were generous. They didn’t hoard their money. They gave, they sponsored and they helped others. I thought, “Could it be that the secret to having more was giving more?” When you look at Scripture, it fits. Give and it shall be given. When you’re faithful over a little, God will make you faithful over a lot. You reap what you sow. I began to pray them, “God, if you can get it to me, you can get it through me.” I wanted to be generous with God’s blessings.
One of the antonyms of generous is selfish. We seem to be bent toward selfishness. I’ve also observed that a lot of the problems in the world and in our lives are the result of selfishness. As believers, we’re to be known for our love for others, not self. God asks us to break away from selfishness and even offers blessings if we’ll be generous. It doesn’t matter if you have a little or a lot, we have the ability to be generous. Generosity is a matter of the heart. When we look at the things and money we have as God’s, then it’s easier to give them away. If I look at myself as the provider and the things I have as a result of my own work, it’s harder to give away. If we get that perspective right, giving comes naturally. Look around you today for opportunities to be generous. Pray for wisdom and ask God to show you where He wants you to be generous with His love and blessings, then you will know where to make a difference.
Here are some Bible verses on being generous.
1. Generous hands are blessed hands because they give bread to the poor.
Proverbs 22:9 MSG
2. Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT
3. Life is good for the one who is generous and charitable, conducting affairs with honesty and truth.
Psalms 112:5 TPT
4. You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous, and this [generosity, administered] through us is producing thanksgiving to God [from those who benefit].
2 Corinthians 9:11 AMP
5. Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped.
In this time of hoarding, panic buying and shortages, it’s good to hear stories of how people are helping others. I’ve got friends who give toilet paper to people who are saying they’re running out. I’ve seen someone over tip for their takeout dinner knowing that the server isn’t getting a lot right now. I also heard of someone who sent their hairdresser the money they were going to spend on haircuts this month even though they weren’t going to be able to go in. These people are not succumbing to the fear. Instead, they’re being generous in a time when hoarding and selfishness is the norm.
If you were to take a pen, hold it out in front of you and let go of it, what would happen? Of course it would drop. But what if you did it again? And again? And again a million times? It would drop every time. Why? Because the Law of Gravity is at work. God has laws too, that when enacted, will give you the same results over and over just like gravity. One of those is the Law of Generosity. In Luke 6:38, Jesus told us that if we give, it will be given back to us, full measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over. Our motives can’t be that we’re giving just so we get. They have to be from the heart of generosity. You must be giving so that you’re blessing those who have no ability to pay you back.
Proverbs 11:25 says, “Be generous, and you will be prosperous. Help others, and you will be helped” (GNT). The Law of Generosity was established in the Old Testament. God loves it when we put away our selfishness in order to help someone else. He blesses that. It’s not even about the amount you give either. Remember there was a widow who gave two pennies, and Jesus said she had given more than all the others who had brought in bags of money. God is always looking at our heart. He’s also always prompting us to give to others. Look around you today. Who is God asking you to be generous to? Look past the fear that is so rampant in today’s world and listen to the voice of God. We need to Law of Generosity in our world activated now more than ever.
Have you ever noticed that some of the richest people around you also happen to be some of the most giving people? They may also be people who try their hand at multiple business ventures. I believe it goes back to a couple of scriptural principles on generosity. If you give, it will be given to you. The other is that you reap what you sow. Both of these principles work whether the giver is a Christian or not. Just like you don’t have to believe in gravity to fall down, you don’t have to believe the Bible for these to work.
My overarching prayer for my family this year is that we would scatter more seeds, but on fertile ground. If a farmer plants more seeds, they’re going to get a larger crop, especially if those seeds were planted in fertile soil. It only stands to reason that the more seeds of blessing that each of us scatter, gives God more ways to grow those seeds and give us more fruit. Life is about planting and replanting. Your first crop isn’t going to give you enough for the rest of your life.
Proverbs 11:24 says, “There is the one who [generously] scatters [abroad], and yet increases all the more; And there is the one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want and poverty” (AMP). Being generous today results in returned generosity in the future. Be careful not to compare your generosity or return with someone else’s. Give what and where God tells you to give. Our house rule when it comes to giving is simple: how much do you want God to bless you? Giving and being generous come in many forms. If you’re looking for God to trust you with more, be generous with what you have today.
On my first trip to Haiti, we stopped at an orphanage right after we landed in Port au Prince. As we met these children and heard their stories, our hearts were overwhelmed. We also heard how God had called this lady to rescue these children that were stricken with disease and left for dead. As the kids soaked up our love, many of us began to cry. We were overcome with the goodness of God in that moment. As I prayed over the kids and our team, I said, “Lord, I now know what it means to have my cup overflow.”
We all know that David mentioned his cup overflowing in Psalm 23. I had always wondered what that meant. I believe it is when God pours out His goodness into our lives so much that we cant contain all that He’s doing. God is good at blessing us more than we can handle when we are good at giving of our time, talent and resources. When you experience the overflow of God’s blessings, you may have to pray like I did and ask God for a bigger cup.
Here are some Bible verses on God pouring blessings out.
1. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Psalms 23:5 NLT
2. The threshing places will be full of grain; the pits beside the presses will overflow with wine and olive oil. I will give you back what you lost in the years when swarms of locusts ate your crops. It was I who sent this army against you. Now you will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied. You will praise the Lord your God, who has done wonderful things for you. My people will never be despised again.
Joel 2:24-26 GNT
3. Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.
Proverbs 10:6 MSG
4. I will make them and the area around My hill a blessing: I will send down showers in their season — showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:26 HCSB
5. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
My son and I planted a small vegetable garden in our yard. It continues to be a source of lessons to me and him. As we were eating dinner out recently, he pulled the lemon off my drink, pulled out the seeds and said, “Here you go, Dada. We can plant these and get lemons from our garden.” At first I was impressed that he made the correlation that seeds inside of fruits and vegetables are what grow and make the plants. Then, as I thought more about it, there was a deeper truth. Only lemon seeds can produce lemons.
That’s knowledge that you and I don’t think often about. We know it as a law of nature, but not as a spiritual law. We know that if we plant watermelon seeds, we’ll grow watermelons every time. But somewhere along the line, we think we can break that law with spiritual seeds. We think we can plant seeds of discontentment and somehow reap peace. Worse yet, we think we can skip out on paying tithes and reap the benefits of giving.
The same law that causes a physical seed to reproduce itself works in the spirit realm as well. What you sow, that shall you also reap. If you want more peace in your life, sow peace into the lives of others. If you want joy, put the work in to make it happen. The great thing about seeds is that when one is planted, several are reproduced. You rarely get a one to one ratio. One kernel of corn can produce a stalk that has several ears containing hundreds of kernels each. You won’t get the benefit of multiplication until you plant the seed where no one sees it.
In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (NLT). He talks of giving just like a harvest from planting seeds. Whatever you plant, it’s going to be multiplied and given back to you. Make sure you plant the right seeds, cultivate the soil they’re in and your harvest will come guaranteed
This time of year, there’s one question that gets asked every day, “What are you getting for Christmas?” We have kids make lists of everything they want and then have them send it to Santa. Or we take them to the mall to have them sit on Santa’s knee so they can tell him in person. Somehow, we’ve taken a holiday that was about giving and have turned it into holiday about getting. What if we started asking people, “What are you giving this year?”
As I watched a friend give a Christmas party with gifts, games, food and fun to a hundred under privileged kids, the scripture that says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” came to mind. I watched her hand each child a gift they had wanted and their parents probably couldn’t afford. I think her smile was larger than any child’s because she was the one giving. That’s what this season, and I think this life is all about. Giving.
In the beginning, God gave man he breath of life. He gave us everything we need to survive. Millennia later, He gave His only begotten Son to us so that we might have eternal life. When He was born, the wise men gave Him gifts. These gifts were sacrificial. They cost these men not just their money, but their time and effort as well to deliver them. That night in Bethlehem, they learned the blessing of giving.
This season, don’t let it be about getting. Take time to enjoy the giving. Look beyond your own family and give to someone else in need. You never know what a blessing it will be to them. When you see what your obedience does for others, you will find your own blessing. Luke 6:38 says, “Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands — all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you” (GNB). This Christmas, give generously.
One of the things I look forward to each November 1st is Jimmy Kimmel showing videos of parents who told their children they ate all their Halloween candy. When the kids find out that all the candy that they got for free is gone, they freak out. Some cry, some scream in anger, and some destroy the house in anger. There are some though, who smile and say, “It’s ok.” They are generous with what was given to them.
While I laugh at the angry kids response, it’s scary to think that their reactions are mirrors of so many adults. We are rarely generous with things that have been placed in our hands. When others ask for those things, we get angry and tell them to go get their own. The truth is that everything we have has been given to us by God and He asks us to be generous with what He gives us.
If you have been given something, why wouldn’t you want to share it? Usually we don’t because of the law of scarcity. We hold tight and value something we are afraid to lose and never get back. But God works differently. If we are willing to be generous with the little He gives us, He will multiply it. That’s a hard concept for us to understand when we’ve learned to treasure things that are scarce. God’s ways are not like ours though.
In his first book, Peter reiterates the necessity of generosity. In I Peter 4:10 he wrote, “Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it” (MSG). God has been so generous with us and He expects us to be like Him. As Corrie Ten Boom warned, we shouldn’t hold tightly to the things God places in our hands because it will hurt if He has to pry our fingers open. Keep an open hand that gives and God will keep putting things in it.
I love hidden camera shows. I enjoy watching different people’s reaction to the same event. I think people are more themselves when they don’t know a camera is rolling. Usually when I think of hidden camera shows, it involves doing something funny or messes with the mind of the unsuspecting person. But I saw one recently where a guy used a hidden camera to capture how people treated him disguised as a homeless man asking for money. As you would expect, he was mainly ignored. Some told him to get a job. Then there were those who gave.
What they didn’t know was that he wasn’t homeless and that he had a surprise for them. When they gave, he thanked them, then gave them their money back and then a $20 bill on top of it. It was touching to watch their reactions when he blessed them back. One lady asked, “Why?” He looked at her, smiled and said, “Because you deserve it.” She quickly replied, “No I don’t.” He insisted she take it because he wanted to help out the givers.
It reminded me of Proverbs 3:27. It says, “Never walk away from someone who needs help; your hand is God’s hand for that person (MSG).” I couldn’t help but to think of not just homeless people who have needed my help, but others who have and I walked away with the ability to help, but not the will. So many times God places people in our path to see how we will react when we think no one is watching. We forget that He always watches us and that all we have is his anyway. He’s just looking to see if we are willing to let go of what’s not even ours to give to someone who needs it more than we do.
I’ve learned to ask God each day to show me the people He puts in path that need my help. I’ve started to carry a little cash that I can give if called upon by God. I want to be prepared to be the hand of God to those people God instructs me to give to. If I never plan or prepare to give, it will never happen. If it never happens, I not only miss out on blessings, but the people who were counting on God to meet their needs can begin to lose faith. Our obedience (or disobedience) always has consequences. We can be the reason for hope in the lives of others if only we were willing to look past how things appear on the surface.
In your prayer time today, ask God to show you who needs your help. Ask Him to let you be His hands to someone in need. You may say, “But I’m one of those people in need.” There’s always someone whom you can help. There’s always someone who is worse off than you are. Be willing to be obedient and to help them and watch how God blesses you. When we give sacrificially, God is bound by a promise to open up the windows of Heaven and pour out blessings you can’t contain. Whether you have a little or a lot, it belongs to God anyway. Go be His hands today.
Epaphroditus is one of the lesser known people mentioned in the Bible. He was barely mentioned at the end of Philippians 2. From what Paul tells us, we can tell that he was a former soldier possibly from the Praetorian Guard. We also know that he was a believer in Christ and a big help to Paul. We don’t know how he was saved or how he ended up in Philippi, but we know that he was willing to give his time, energy and life for the sake of Christ because verse 30 said he risked his life for the work of Christ.
He is a great example of giving for each one of us. We don’t have to have a lot in the bank to give something. We can be like the widow who gave her two mites in the offering. Jesus said she gave more than all the others. We can be like the churches in the New Testament who gave to the apostles as they spread the Gospel. Without their contributions, the Early Church wouldn’t have had the ability to spread like it did. We can be like Epaphroditus who gave of his time and talents to help others.
God isn’t so much concerned with how we give as He is with us just being givers. I heard a phrase yesterday that sparked something in me. It said, “We need to be go givers instead of go getters.” The world tells us to be go getters. “Take all you can, save up your money, get rich and live in luxury.” But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor and come follow me.” His point was that we shouldn’t be tied to earthly wealth. We shouldn’t store up everything only to make ourselves comfortable. We should be mindful of others and store up our treasures in Heaven.
I’m not saying that saving money is bad or even having a lot of money is bad. I believe God blesses each one of us according to our abilities and willingness to give. If you want more of what you have, give it away. If you want to know what it’s like to have the windows of Heaven opened up and blessings poured out that you can’t contain, then give. Give your time, your talents, your abilities, your money or whatever God asks you to give. He is interested in our ability to trust Him for our needs rather than for us to feel self sufficient in our own abilities to accumulate wealth or to develop talent that will get us where we want to go.
One of my favorite phrases from one of my favorite hymns says, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” God’s love for us outweighs anything we could ever do to repay Him. The least we can do is to give back to Him what He has blessed us with. For Epaphroditus, that was his life in service. For the widow, it was all the money she had. For the Early Church, it was their possessions. Each of us have a choice. We can be like the rich, young ruler and walk away sad because we’d rather be a go getter or we can choose to be a go giver. We can be someone who stores up treasures in Heaven through giving. What will you give to God today?