We close out our series on Spiritual Disciplines with the practice of giving and generosity. For an introduction to this series, click here. There is also a link to each Discipline at the end of this post.
The other Disciplines we covered (prayer, fasting, and meditation) all posture our hearts to hear from God, and to understand scripture better. When we renew our mind with those Disciplines, we reach deeper understanding and excitement for what the Bible teaches about generosity. This is where we start to put it all together. It’s important to approach the topic of giving and generosity after you’ve prayed and then follow up your study on the topic by meditating on what you read.
Practicing Disciplines in tandem is an enriching experience for any believer. Instead of keeping each practice in a silo, we use one to help us with the other. Your prayer life, meditation on scripture, and fasting can help you grow in your generosity.
Why is that a goal? Well, the Bible talks about it a lot and Jesus himself was a perfect example of selflessness and generosity. So the end goal isn’t to fill up a coffer somewhere, it’s to become a better reflection of Christ.
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:11-15 NIV)
Here we see Paul encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous for a few different reasons:
- Generosity increases our thankfulness to God.
We all need to reset our hearts and motives (sometimes multiple times a day) back to thankfulness. Being a generous person reminds you how generous God has been to us, withholding not even his son.
- You are supplying for the needs of the Lord’s people.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul is encouraging the church to look after one another primarily. We see this echoed in our own culture today. Churches do a massive amount of outreach giving, but they also provide for the needs of those within the congregation. This isn’t typically flashed across the screen or posted to the Church website, but generosity very often starts at home. It’s taking care of the single mom at church who can’t make rent this month, or the family who lost their job and needs school supplies for their kids. Churches help inwardly as much, if not more, than outwardly. A lot of this depends on the actual congregation and the needs present. But remember that as you generously give to your church, you are quite literally giving to your neighbors and family in Christ.
- Generosity is a witness of your obedience and faith in Christ.
We never give to impress people or to curry favor, but when people see you, “putting your money where your mouth is” their own faith is strengthened. Why would someone give such a finite and hard earned resource, by choice and joyfully, if they didn’t have faith? There’s no need to announce everytime you give, but when you live generously you’ll have opportunities to share the reason for your faith and joy in giving.
- When you share with others, their prayers for you are earnest and heartfelt.
This is the beauty of the Church. The Discipline of Generosity spurs others to prayer and thankfulness. This is how we encourage each other in these Spiritual Disciplines in an organic and amazing way. I don’t know about you, but I would love to have people praying for me as I pray for them. This is the Body of Christ, alive and growing.
A Change of Perspective
Approaching giving as a Discipline instead of a task completely shifts how you feel about it. What do you think this change of heart and mind could accomplish? When we abandon giving as a works-based principle and instead see it as a practice that draws us and others closer to God and makes us more like Jesus, there’s a lot less debate that has to happen. It also means that we understand scripture in a new way than we might have been taught. Instead of giving to get, we give to bring ourselves closer to the image and character of Christ, and to encourage others with our genuine care for them.
What does everyday generosity look like though, and how do we grow a generous spirit? It wouldn’t be considered a Discipline if it didn’t take some practice. Here are some practical tips to get started.
- Be part of a Church.
This one might be a given, but it can’t go without being stated. The Church is God’s chosen method to spread the Gospel in our current time. This is why we give to the Church. To learn more about why generous giving belongs in church, read this post.
- Pray for a generous spirit and ask God to open your eyes and heart to opportunities to be generous.
There are so many places to be generous in addition to taking care of your church family. When you pray for and meditate on what it means to be generous, you’ll start seeing brand new ways to practice giving as an extension of your worship. As a pastor or leader, you can equip others by offering easier ways to give. Learn about all the ways Tithe.ly All Access wants to help you empower your church for transformational generosity and more.
- Read the Bible.
This is always a good idea, but especially when you are challenging yourself to grow in a particular area. Yes, one reason is for instruction, but another one is for encouragement. If you are trying to turn over a new leaf in this area, you need encouragement that only scripture can bring.
- Talk to someone who is better at it than you.
We’ve never fully arrived in any Spiritual Discipline, but there are people with strengths that we don’t have. Go to that person who you know is strong in their giving to ask your hard questions. Be honest with them over your concerns and tell them you want to grow in your generosity. This goes back to the verse in 2 Corinthians. Sometimes you are the person witnessing with your strength, and sometimes you’re the one who needs the witness. That’s what makes the Church like no other place. We are all one body with many parts. (Don’t forget to pray for those who are helping you grow in your own faith.)
Onward and Upward
Generous giving becomes a true joy when we begin to understand why we are asked to do it. Ultimately, it grows the Church (which God loves) and it grows you (who God loves). To learn more about Biblical giving and generosity, check out the resource library below.
Is your church ready to take the next step in their generosity? While you encourage your congregation in this practice, Tithe.ly is here to help you make that even easier. Our digital giving tools make it easy for every member of your church to sign-up and start their journey of generosity.
Spiritual Disciplines play a major part in our faith and understanding of scripture. This series barely scratches the surface, but hopefully encourages you to dig into one or all of the disciplines.
“Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8