The end of the year is a natural time for congregants to consider their generosity. Certainly, some of the timing is due to the IRS tax code and a bombardment of solicitations from non-profits. Congregants are aware they must make donations before the new year for the donation to impact their current year’s taxes, and non-profits attempt to capitalize on this.
Of course, a Christian’s motivation for giving should be less about a tax deduction and more about changing lives and advancing a Kingdom. And while congregants may be considering their generosity for tax purposes, church leaders help set their eyes on more significant, eternal things. The following generosity principles are less about shaping a person’s tax return and more about shaping a person’s heart. This year-end, consider communicating these six generosity principles:
1. We serve a generous God.
One of Scripture’s most well-known verses is John 3:16—”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV). He gave. Our God is a giver of good things. James 1:17 tells us that every good thing comes from Him. And there is no greater gift than what we see in John 3:16. God sends the only solution to our brokenness and condemnation. He sends us Jesus. We serve a generous God.
2. We give because God gave.
In Luke 8:1-3, we find three women—Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Evidently, Jesus had done something significant in each of their lives. For Mary Magdalene, we know seven demons were removed from her. And how did these women respond? They supported Jesus with their possessions. Their response to God’s generosity was generosity. When we truly recognize the gift we have been given in Jesus, we will also find ourselves to be generous. We give because God gave.
And how did these women respond? They supported Jesus with their possessions. Their response to God’s generosity was generosity.
3. There is a lost, dark world out there.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he left us with these words, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). These words are known as the Great Commission. While we celebrate the coming of Jesus during December, we must recognize the reason He came—the world is lost, dark, and in need of a Savior. People need to hear about Jesus. This brings us to the next principle…
4. Generosity communicates the love of God to a lost, dark world.
Biblical generosity is shocking because it is both sacrificial and unwarranted. In this me-first world, those who care for the needs of others and give freely stand out. They are noticed, and the words they speak are often heard. The early church was known for their generosity. And God worked through those generous acts to spread the gospel.
The early church was known for their generosity. And God worked through those generous acts to spread the gospel.
Acts 2:44-47 says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (NIV).
There seems to be a connection between the early church’s generosity and the early church’s growth. When we give, we reflect the generosity of God. This generosity can create opportunities to share the gospel. Generosity communicates the love of God to a lost, dark world.
There seems to be a connection between the early church’s generosity and the early church’s growth.
5. We are to give extravagantly but humbly.
Matthew 6:2-4 says, “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” (NIV).
In this passage, Jesus is addressing those whose motivation for giving is self-exultation. They gave to be seen and praised by others. Their love for God was a façade, hiding their love for themselves. As Christians, we are to give generously and extravagantly. But our generosity is not meant to demonstrate how great we are but what we find to be great—God. So, we approach the offering plate with humility, not pride.
our generosity is not meant to demonstrate how great we are but what we find to be great—God
6. Giving to your church is an act of war against the world’s darkness.
Giving to our local church is much more than a financial transaction. It is not just a way to receive a tax deduction. We are not simply placing cash in a plate or clicking the “give” button on our church’s website. God uses the money we give to reach the hurting and lost. God uses the money to heal broken marriages and bring prodigal sons home. God uses the money to feed the hungry and find lost coins. Through our giving, we join God in His mission to reach every tongue, tribe, and nation. This is what happens when we give.
Through our giving, we join God in His mission to reach every tongue, tribe, and nation.
Giving is on your congregants’ minds. Leverage this season to point them toward the reasons why believers give. Help move their focus from a tax break to a lost and dying world desperately in need of Jesus.