THE WHOLEHEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 4: Holiness of Character
Are You a Giver?
Are you more excited about giving or receiving? Let’s talk about the second trait in holiness of character – generosity. When you grow in holiness of character, you grow in being a giver to other people. Most of us think of money and material things when we think of generosity but giving also has to do with the condition of our hearts. God wants us to give love, even to the undeserving, to give mercy, even when wronged.
God desires us to grow in generosity in every aspect of our lives. For many of us, generosity is not our first instinct. We have to learn to be givers and give place for the Holy Spirit to develop that character trait in our lives.
When I think about the Lord, I think about how He is so generous – He’s a giver. He gave us the gift of eternal life at the greatest cost – Jesus laying down His own life in a cruel and painful death, bearing our sin and sickness and pain and suffering. God wants us to give with the same reckless abandonment.
What happens to a generous person?
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
God rewards generosity. A soul that is focused on giving freely and fully, who rejoices in blessing others, will be enriched both spiritually and materially. You will not just survive, but you will thrive and grow in health, in your relationships, in finances, in your career, in your ministry, and more! A generous person gives, receives back from God, and gives even more. We can’t ever outgive God. Whenever we give, He gives back!
“Give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together
and running over, will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use,
it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV)
The opposite of generosity is greed and selfishness. Look at any two-year-old and you’ll see that selfishness comes naturally. You have to teach your children to share with their siblings or their playmates. And what often causes temper tantrums in kids? They want something in the store, and Mom says “no.” They feel entitled to have whatever they want. So, we have to learn not to be greedy and selfish, but to be givers.
If we don’t cultivate the character trait of generosity, we tend to give in to our human, fallen nature and experience grief and destruction. We have to constantly overcome our natural inclination toward wanting more, and not wanting to let go of what we have. We have to surrender this, so God can develop generosity in us.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh;
rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13 NIV)
What does generosity break?
Generosity breaks the spirit of poverty. On the other side of the coin from greed and selfishness is a poverty mentality and an orphan mentality. This is a position of lack, a constant sense of neediness, a feeling that we never have enough. And this all ties in with our identity. When we understand that we’re are sons and daughters of the King of the universe, we know that God will provide all the resources we will ever need.
The spirit of poverty is doubting God. It’s doubting His ability to provide. And the orphan mentality is tied to that. It’s feeling like you have to depend on yourself for everything. So, we need to have a balance. We need to release our desires to God, trusting that He will provide what we need – because He’s the God that does exceedingly above anything we could ask or think. At the same time, we need to avoid greed, thinking we need everything we see.
When we embrace generosity and allow God to cultivate that in us, it breaks the spirit of poverty, and then we’re able to reach out and bless others. We’re able to love on others like God loves on us.
At our church, we’ve created an event called #LoveNewBraunfels. The property our church sits on is next to a laundromat and a car wash. God gave me a vision for a lot of community activity – reaching out to our immediate community in love. We’ve done it for three years now and have seen some amazing miracles, testimonies, healings, and salvations – simply by being generous.
The church was willing to write a $1000 check to get a bunch of quarters – a lot of quarters – a thousand dollars’ worth of quarters! We paid for everyone’s laundry and everyone’s car wash that day. We set up a tent and gave away free snacks and had a little kids’ tent for games and face painting, just to simply love people.
We did not accept donations. We were loving on people, praying for people, and prophesying over people. We were just becoming love because the property where our church sits is in a low economic area in our city. So, we wanted to reach them there and break the spirit of poverty by sharing in generosity. We’ve been doing that and seen amazing things.
How was the Good Samaritan a giver?
One great story in the Bible that I love to go to is the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. If you remember in that story, a man gets beat up and robbed, and a Jewish priest and a religious Levite walk right past him. It was the Samaritan, who was considered inferior and an enemy, and yet the Samaritan was willing to pay for this man to be taken care of. He got him into safety and paid for his care.
And so, we want to be generous. We want to love our neighbor like the Samaritan did. Remember that you always have something to give. And God loves a cheerful giver!
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17 NIV)