Generosity Is Rewarding
“THE generous soul will itself be made fat,” is the assurance the Bible gives. (Prov. 11:25) The person practicing true generosity does not have to fear that he will thereby come to experience want.
To believe that this is so, however, takes faith. The Bible, in fact, associates generosity with faith. At James 2:14-17 we read: “Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, yet a certain one of you says to them: ‘Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,’ but you do not give them the necessities for their body, of what benefit is it? Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.”
Now a person could reason, ‘If I give generously of my belongings to help needy brothers and sisters, I may not have anything on which to fall back should I experience financial reverses. In that case, who would help me?’ Such thinking could restrain a person from being generous with his assets. So it definitely takes faith to believe that generous giving will not injure one’s security at some later time. Yes, it takes faith to believe that, should we ever come to be in real need, God’s spirit operating upon the minds and hearts of fellow believers will move them to come to our aid.
Besides faith, a person must have the right motivation in showing generosity. If, for example, he lacked love, his giving would have no value in the eyes of God. The apostle Paul made a strong point on this when he wrote: “If I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body, that I may boast, but do not have love, I am not profited at all.”—1 Cor. 13:3.
Those who give in order to receive plaudits of men may gain the flattering praises that they are seeking. But for them, giving brings no other reward. Jesus Christ made this plain when counseling against such giving. He said: “When you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when making gifts of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you.”—Matt. 6:2-4.
There is no merit in anyone’s giving of his time, assets and talents simply to impress others or to gain some personal advantage. Christian generosity should be totally unselfish. Jesus Christ stated: “If you lend without interest to those from whom you hope to receive, of what credit is it to you? Even sinners lend without interest to sinners that they may get back as much. To the contrary, continue to lend without interest, not hoping for anything back; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind toward the unthankful and wicked.”—Luke 6:34, 35.
Those who heard Jesus’ words were people obligated to observe the Mosaic law, which already commanded making interest-free loans to needy fellow countrymen. (Ex. 22:25) So even for one having a bad reputation, a ‘sinner,’ to make a loan without interest to someone able to make repayment, would not have been anything especially remarkable. Such lending by the ‘sinner’ might even be done with the intent of gaining some future favor from the borrower. The kind of generosity that Jesus Christ was encouraging, however, went beyond what a known ‘sinner’ might do. It called for imitating Jehovah’s generosity, a generosity that remarkably extends even to thankless, unappreciative persons. Accordingly, devoted followers of Jesus Christ should be willing to come to the aid of truly needy ones whose economic circumstances are such that they might never be able to make repayment. That indeed requires love and faith.
When giving is not properly motivated and faith is lacking, a person could become guilty of very serious sin. This is illustrated in the cases of Ananias and Sapphira. They saw how others voluntarily sold their possessions and put the proceeds at the disposal of the apostles, to be used for helping needy fellow believers. Evidently Ananias and Sapphira sought the praise of others for being generous. But they lacked faith in God’s care. Though under no obligation to do so, they sold a field and then agreed to contribute only a part of the money received. However, they lyingly tried to make themselves appear more generous than they actually were by pretending that they were contributing the whole amount. Through the apostle Peter, God himself exposed their deliberate deceit and pronounced upon them the judgment of death.—Acts 5:1-11.
So, then, for expressions of generosity to be favorably looked upon by Jehovah they must be genuine. Jehovah will reward generous persons, blessing them and strengthening them to come through difficult times without losing their spiritual lives. Jehovah will not abandon his generous servants, leaving them in desperate straits. Though they may temporarily experience hard times, even a series of economic reverses, they will not succumb to despair and hopelessness. A Bible proverb says: “The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up.” (Prov. 24:16) The psalmist expressed his confidence as follows: “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”—Ps. 56:4.
Furthermore, when others see a very generous person come into real need, they will be far more inclined to help him than one who has been close-fisted. As to the Christian congregation, God’s spirit operating on the minds and hearts of those associated moves them to come to the aid of needy fellow believers. Thus, through fellow believers, Jehovah God rewards acts of generosity.
True generosity is really an expression of love. And there are times when love calls for restraint in generosity. For example, some people are irresponsible, lazy and unwilling to accept work although jobs that they could do are available. It would be to their injury if they were permitted to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the case of such persons, the Bible rule should apply: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.”—2 Thess. 3:10.
Circumstances also can limit the extent to which a person can give to others. The responsibility to care for family members, for instance, comes first. That is why it would be wrong for a father to give to others in a way that hinders his providing properly for his family.—1 Tim. 5:8.
Nevertheless, even the person who has little materially can be generous. He may have opportunities to spend time with those who are lonely. He may be able to encourage them by word. Or, he might be able to share with others in some upbuilding activity, even by simply taking a walk in a park or forest. Then, too, a person could give of his physical strength in doing personal, helpful things for others.
So while a person may have limitations, he can still enjoy the wholesome effect of being a “cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7) If he is generous with whatever he has and uses discernment when giving to others, he will be rewarded with an inward joy and satisfaction. He will be content, knowing that he has acted in harmony with God’s will. Therefore, he can rest assured that he will continue to experience God’s blessing, guidance and care.
Yes, when we are deeply concerned about the welfare of others, we will be moved to respond to their needs, generously giving of our time, strength and possessions. So doing, we will continue to experience rich rewards as God’s approved servants.