Being Generous When You’re Stretched Thin

I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends for eternity. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven … but if you are unfaithful with your worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? ... You cannot serve both God and money. (Luke 16: 9-14 NLT)
If you're going to become like Jesus, you need to learn how to be generous.

It’s easy to give your time, energy or money when you have a lot to spare. But the true test of generosity comes when you don’t have a surplus. Do you still give what little you have to help somebody else? If you do, congratulations! You’ve passed God’s test of generosity.

Why does God test your generosity? Because you were made in his image, so if you’re going to become like Jesus, you need to learn how to be generous. If you don’t, you’ll never grow to maturity, and you will never have the blessing of God on your life.

What if you’re in a recession and things aren’t going well — you’re out of work or you’re out of money and you feel like you have no more time or energy to give. How can you be generous when you’re stretched thin?

A good example for us is in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul says this about the churches in Macedonia: “Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others” (2 Corinthians 8:2 LB). Joy and generosity always go together.

An acid test of how much you trust God is the way you handle your money, because it shows what’s important to you.

As a pastor, I want you to succeed financially so you can be generous, help other people, and do good in the world. So here are five principles to help you thrive even in a recession.

  1. Obeying God’s vision will bring God’s provision. When you say, “God, I’m going to do what you want me to do regardless of whether I have the money or resources to do it,” God will provide everything you need to get it done.
  2. When I do all God tells me to do, he does what I can’t do. Give God whatever you have, however meager it may be, and God will multiply it to do more than you imagined, just like he did with the five loaves and two fish.
  3. God gives to generous people. The more generous you are, the more God will give you.
  4. Whenever I have a need, I need to sow a seed. Whatever you need more of, give it away. In order to harvest a crop, you first have to plant the seeds.
  5. There is always a delay between sowing and reaping. A harvest is not automatic. It takes time and patience.

Saddleback Resources offers a small group Bible study related to these devotionals: The Invisible War-Winning the Battle of Temptation.

© Copyright 2011 Rick Warren. Used by permission.

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