Please take time to read 2 Corinthians chapter 9.
This chapter is the second in a row in which Paul addresses generosity and does it through a specific giving campaign to help out the struggling Christians in Jerusalem. I want to look at just a few principles of generosity that we can discover in this passage.
Generosity is about attitude and action. You cannot have one without the other and be considered a truly generous person.
"Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given." 2 Corinthians 9:5
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7
Our attitude in giving is extremely important and is a by-product of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Cheerful giving is a clear sign of our changed heart, but cheerfulness in itself is not enough. If a person says they love to give but never actually gives are they generous? Absolutely not. Many times our hearts are stirred into a giving attitude when, for instance, a missionary's slide show inspires us to pledge to give. But being stirred to give is not giving.
"For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we... not to say anything about you... would be ashamed of having been so confident." 2 Corinthians 9:2-4
Obviously an important part of being generous is actually giving. Our attitudes may give off a giving nature but a generous person is an actual giver. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to make sure it wasn't just excitement that made them pledge to give; Paul wanted the Corinthians to follow through. It is an embarrassment to ourselves and others when we don't do what we say we will. That is one reason we need to count the cost before making a pledge of money or time.
But action alone does not make us generous. If a person gives but gives begrudgingly or out of compulsion would you call them a generous person? Probably not. Generous people give and enjoy giving. Generous people recognize that actually giving is an exercise in faith and a proven faith is hugely rewarding.
Generosity is important for the obvious reason that it helps meet the needs of others. But generosity is important for much more than that. Look at the verse below:
"Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 9:13
Don't miss this, "for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ." See, generosity is a proof that the Gospel has taken root in our life. Generosity is an obedience that accompanies our acceptance of the Gospel!
Are you generous? Generosity, both monetarily and non-monetarily, is a sign of God's life changing work in our lives. The attitude of generosity implanted by the Holy Spirit is a proof of our salvation. The action of giving is a proof that we actually trust in the God in whom we say we trust. Yes, generosity is about helping others, but generosity is about so much more. God doesn't need us to give. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills; He created the universe and commands it today. God allows us to be generous for our sake. He allows us to be generous so that we can have the blessed assurance that we know and trust Him.
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." 2 Corinthians 9:6
In attitude and in action sow generously today.