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What does the Bible say about generosity?

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Generosity is the quality of being kind and unselfish, especially as it pertains to sharing money and other valuables with others. The Bible has a lot to say about generosity as a desirable character trait. Proverbs 22:9 says, “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” God is generous, and He expects us to follow His example.

God’s generosity is evidenced all around us. God created this planet that is specially suited to sustain us and provide for our needs and pleasures. He supplies us with color, light, sound, air, and the ability to taste and enjoy, hear and appreciate, touch and be satisfied. Above all, God demonstrated His generosity when He offered His Son as a sacrifice to atone for our sin. In the face of such generosity, we can only say, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The gift of Jesus to sinful mankind was the ultimate act of generosity.

As we have been forgiven, we are to forgive (Ephesians 4:32). And as we see God being generous, we are to be generous. Generosity can be manifested in many ways. We can give of our time, our material resources, our hospitality, and our friendship. The Bible teaches the general principle that those who are generous will find favor: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. People curse the one who hoards grain, but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell” (Proverbs 11:24–26). God’s Word is clear that the generous are remembered and rewarded, whether in this life or the next.

God challenges us to be generous because He wants us to receive the blessing that comes from it. Jesus said, “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). This promise is a reflection of the truth of 2 Chronicles 16:9 that “the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

We should show generosity to everyone, as we have opportunity: “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). Former thieves must leave their past life behind and “work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). The rich should “be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

In our generosity, we are not to expect repayment in kind. Our reward will come from the Lord, in His way and in His time. We are to show generosity even to our enemies: “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. . . . If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? . . . But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:29, 34–35).

God is seeking people who will reflect His character and model His generosity. He delights to bless them and show Himself strong on their behalf. In 2 Corinthians 9:6–15, Paul exhorts the church to be generous in their giving to the Lord’s work. And he praises the Philippians for being so generous to him, adding that it is not for himself that he rejoices but for them—they will be blessed because of their gift (Philippians 4:17). We can apply these encouragements to our own lives and strive to be generous and wise with everything God has entrusted to us.

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This page last updated: October 3, 2022