Throughout Scripture, we find God instructing believers to live generously. This is not because God has a desire for our wallets—He already owns everything in them. God cares about our relationship with money because of its tie to our hearts. Money management reflects heart management.
The Gospel of Matthew provides us with four lessons about biblical generosity. The words found in Matthew’s letter are just as true today as the day he wrote them.
Use these lessons to teach your congregation about the biblical principles surrounding generosity.
1. Our stewardship will be judged.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus shares the Parable of the Talents which demonstrates the true nature of generosity in God’s Kingdom.
In this passage, we see a master interact with three servants. He gives five bags of gold to one servant, two bags of gold to another, and one bag to the final servant. The master goes on a long journey and when he returns he is eager to see what his servants have done with the gold he’s entrusted them with.
The servant with five bags comes back with an additional five bags to add to what he’s been giving. The servant with two bags of gold gained an additional two bags of gold. The master replies to both of these men, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness (verse 21).”
But the servant who received only one bag of gold hid it in the ground while the master was away, not investing or gaining anything from what he was entrusted. The master was not happy with this, calling him a “wicked, lazy servant (verse 20).” And said, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (verses 29-30).”
God gives us resources for the advancement of His Kingdom. Those who leverage the resources well are rewarded. Those who never understand God’s nature and keep the resources to themselves will face His wrath.
This is a serious call for disciples to manage God’s resources for His mission, not our own. And what is one of the best ways to leverage those resources? Living generously.
2. Our reward for giving will either be earthly or heavenly. And we choose the location.
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus teaches us that motivations behind generosity matter.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” –Matthew 6:1-4
Jesus teaches us that motivations behind generosity matter.
Those who give to glorify themselves may receive a reward—honor from other humans. But this reward is earthly, momentary, and will not result in long-term fulfillment.
But, those who give to glorify God will receive a different type of reward. This reward is heavenly and eternal.
Our motivations behind our generosity determine the location of our rewards. Will your rewards be earthly or heavenly?
3. Tightfistedness indicates that a heart is not fully committed to Jesus.
In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus teaches us about the rich and the Kingdom of God.
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” – Matthew 19:16-22
Jesus’ interaction with this young, rich man provides us with an invaluable lesson. When Jesus asked that the young man let go of his god, his possessions, to take hold of the Truth, the young man refused. He looked the Son of God in His eyes and walked away.
Tightfistedness is not an insignificant issue. It reveals a problem deep in the heart of a person.
Tightfistedness is not an insignificant issue. It reveals a problem deep in the heart of a person. Tightfistedness indicates that the person is holding on to another god and not fully committing themselves to Jesus. Tightfishedness impedes on true generosity.
4. God leads us by providing the ultimate gift.
Matthew 27: 32-56 shows the true extent of God’s generosity to us through the crucifixion and death of His Son, Jesus.
In this passage, we see Jesus traveling to Golgotha, where He would be crucified. We see the events leading up to the crucifixion, how people mocked Him, and hear the insults thrown at Him. And, we see the response as His spirit left His body.
“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and examined, ‘Surely he was the Song of God (verses 50-54).’”
We don’t serve a God who simply says, “Go do.” No, we serve a God who says, “See, I did.”
God doesn’t just tell us to live and give generously. He leads by providing the ultimate gift. There is no more significant gift than Jesus’ death on the cross. The generosity of our God is unfathomable. We don’t serve a God who simply says, “Go do.” No, we serve a God who says, “See, I did.” And it is His gift that moves us to generously give.
In His perfect wisdom, God weaves verses about generosity throughout Scripture, including the Gospel of Matthew.
Matthew reminds us to take stewardship seriously, to let our giving be driven by a desire to glorify God, and that God leads us in generosity through the giving of His Son. Let these lessons guide you in your study and your generosity journey.