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Bible Insights

We Need to Have a Spirit of Generosity

Examine Our Motives When We Give

Paul writes a succinct reminder to Jesus’s followers in Corinth. By extension it also applies to us. It’s about generosity. He says “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously,” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

Generosity produces blessing, whereas stinginess results in scarcity. In another letter Paul is more concise: we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).

So, we should give.

Why? Because the Bible says to.

How? Give with a willing spirit, not begrudgingly but happily (2 Corinthians 9:7).

What Should We Avoid?

Giving to get. Giving to others in order to earn a return on our investment is not generosity but selfishness. Yes, I know people who have given from their poverty and God repaid them one hundredfold. But the hundredfold blessing seldom came quickly and often involved sacrifice along the way.

When we give in order to get, we miss the point. God discerns our motives (Proverbs 16:2).

God says that that when we bless others, he will bless us even more. Click To Tweet

Blessed to Be a Blessing

God promised Father Abraham that he and his descendants would be blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2). Or consider that “A generous man will prosper,” (Proverbs 11:25).

Full Circle Generosity

In the Old Testament God says he will bless us so we can bless others. In the New Testament he says when we bless others, he will bless us even more.

The point is, we need to give generously, but we best do so for the right reasons.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 7-9, and today’s post is on 2 Corinthians 9:6.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Give Generously and Not Begrudgingly

We Must Take Care of the Poor Among Us

As we read through the law of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy, we come across a command that says that we are to “give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart” (Deuteronomy 15:10).

We might have the inclination to dismiss this command as part of the old covenant, which Jesus came to fulfill, but remember that he modeled and taught generosity. For example, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says to give to those who ask and don’t ignore those who want to borrow (Matthew 5:42).

This Old Testament command says to give generously to “them.” But who does them refer to? The context in Deuteronomy is other Israelites. We can extend this concept to us today and apply it by saying that it means those in our church or other followers of Jesus.

This is an ideal place to start, but Jesus’s command to give doesn’t limit us to our own congregation or spiritual community. The context of the passage in Matthew seems to include everyone.

Applying Moses is teaching in Deuteronomy to Jesus’s call to give, adds the stipulation to not do so begrudgingly, that is, without a grudging heart. To give generously with the wrong attitude is disobedience.

There’s one more item from Moses’s teaching. He promises a reward for those who give generously and not grudgingly. He promises God’s blessings to those who give. The blessings apply to their work and everything they do.

May we give generously to those in need. Click To Tweet

But Jesus doesn’t promise a blessing when we give. He just says to do it. This should be enough. If we receive a blessing for our generosity, that’s a bonus.

May we give generously to those in need without thought to a reward, because Jesus says to—and it’s the right thing to do.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 13-15 and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 15:7-10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Why It’s Important that We Prosper

Prosperity Is Not a Bad Word, and We Must Start Embracing It as Good

A popular pastime today is to decry prosperity as an evil that plagues the world. These folks think that all people who prosper are greedy and selfish—though some are. They advocate taking from those who have and give to those who have not. In truth, these people aren’t interested in helping the poor as much as they are envious that others have more than they do.

They miss the point that God wants us to prosper.

The Bible has much to say about prosper and prosperity. We often think of prosper in terms of money, but it also applies to other areas of our life. Our family can prosper. We can prosper by enjoying good health. And we can prosper in intangible ways when we lead a God-honoring life.

Consider some of what the Bible says about the idea of prospering:

  • God plans to prosper his people and not harm them, plans to give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • God told Jacob to go back home and he would prosper (Genesis 32:9).
  • Obey God that we may live long and prosper (Deuteronomy 5:33).
  • Walk in obedience with God and do all he says so that you will prosper in everything you do and everywhere you go (1 Kings 2:3).
  • A person who gives generously will prosper (Proverbs 11:25).
  • Those who trust in God will prosper (Proverbs 28:25).
  • You will prosper more, and then you will know that I am your Lord (Ezekiel 36:11).
  • God made his people prosper while they were in Egypt (Acts 13:17).

Some of these verses apply to individuals, while other passages have a broader audience, but the point we can glean from all these verses—and many others in the Bible—is that God loves us. And he wants us to prosper.

Blessed to Be a Blessing

But many people desiring prosperity, miss the point of why. They think their prosperity is for their benefit and theirs alone. Taken to an extreme we end up with a prosperity gospel and a prosperity theology. Don’t go there.

These overreaches miss the basic biblical truth that God wants us to prosper. He wants to bless us. But why?

God doesn’t bless us with success and wealth so that we can live extravagant self-centered lives. He blesses us not for ourselves but for the sake of others.

God loves us and wants us to prosper. Click To Tweet

God told Abraham, “I will bless you and you will in turn bless others” (Genesis 12:2). This means that God’s blessings are not for us to consume or to squander in conspicuous living.

Our blessings are to share with others. As God is generous with us, may we be as generous toward others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Personal Posts

I’ve Got Food, But Not Everyone Does

On my post last April, I pondered how any effort to curtail water usage on my part could serve to help those halfway around the world who are thirsty. Alas, there is no direct solution (but I did suggest a course of action).

This discussion reminded me of the prodding I heard as a child to eat all the food on my plate because there were starving children in India.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world there are also hungry people in your local community. Click To Tweet

Well, I thought to myself, just send them my food; I’ve had enough and don’t want any more. As a tiny lad, I even envisioned placing my unwanted food in the mailbox for the kids in India. Unfortunately, viable solutions are not so simple.

Not only are there starving children halfway around the world (and a plethora of organizations who provide sponsorship opportunities), there are also hungry people in your local community. Many are homeless, relying on homeless shelters and food kitchens for their daily sustenance.

A couple of bucks will provide a meal for one of them. The results can be even more significant in feeding the hungry in impoverished third world locales, where a few cents can provide a basic meal.

So, I can go out to eat at a moderately priced restaurant—or feed ten people at the local shelter—or 180 people in Uganda.

Think about it. I sure do.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do You Excel at the Grace of Giving?

Be Generous

There is a curious phrase in the Bible: “grace of giving.” It occurs only in Paul’s second letter to his friends at the church in Corinth. Without it appearing elsewhere in the Bible, there are no other verses we can use to grasp a better understanding of this curious phrase.

In considering it, the “grace of giving” could imply we are to give graciously. The opposite is to give begrudgingly, and that’s not good. A gift given resentfully is hardly a gift at all. Gracious giving is the goal.

Alternately, “grace of giving” could suggest generosity. We give what others need and then give more. Or we give what we can and then make sacrifices to give more. We give “above and beyond” expectations. This, too, may be the grace of giving.

We are to give to others. Click To Tweet

While there is value in both these considerations, I think there is an even better one. God gives his grace to us; we should give a bit of that grace to others.

This could be money, or it could be kindness, tolerance, acceptance, or any number of the amazing gifts God has given us, his undeserving followers.

Regardless of how we understand the phrase “grace of giving” and what it precisely means, the key is to give. We are to give to others.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 7-9 and today’s post is on 2 Corinthians 8:7.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Spirituality of Giving

When it comes to giving to others there are two schools of thought. One is to give to whoever asks and the other is to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. The problem is, both of these are taught in the Bible, so which is it?

The answer, as with many spiritual paradoxes, is both. In this case God does not give us an immutable law to obey, but instead guidelines to follow. I think we need to discern which path to take for each individual situation.

Giving to others is a spiritual thing; may we do it well. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we need to give generously without hesitation, while other times, the good stewardship rule applies. This may mean sharing what we have, or withholding resources, or perhaps coming up with a creative response that while not giving what is requested, does provide for what is actually needed.

Giving to others is a spiritual thing; may we do it well.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

The Spirituality of Receiving

When we give something to others, there should be a spiritual element to our generosity. It’s more than just to be nice to them or to feel better about ourselves. There’s a spiritual aspect in giving that can honor God and connect us more closely with him.

There’s also a spiritual aspect in receiving. Just as a rightly given gift should be offered graciously, it should also be received gratefully. Doing so honors the giver and likewise connects us more closely with God, the ultimate giver of all good gifts.

I recently had some minor surgery and was on the receiving end of other’s generosity. Most prominently, my bride became my head nurse for a few days, doing things for me I’m used to doing myself. Each act of kindness was another small gift.

We can show God’s love by how we give—and in how we receive. Click To Tweet

Although I’m more comfortable in the role of giver, I endeavored to receive each gift well. This was to honor both the giver and the God behind the gift.

We can show God’s love by how we give—and in how we receive.

May we do both well.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Why You May Be In The Top One Percent

I’m weary hearing about the top 1 percent, the wealthiest people in the USA. While too much has already been said about this from a political, social, and philosophical standpoint, I see it as a spiritual issue.

For most of us in the US, the bottom 99 percent, we need to guard against a spirit of envy. In fact, we should be happy (the Bible would use the word “rejoice”) for just how much the top 1 percent has gained.

Let’s not forget that we, too, have gained. But it is spirit of envy that objects to someone else who gains more than us.

For the top 1 percent in the USA, let me provide a spiritual reminder: you are blessed to be a blessing. That is, help others with your money. You don’t have to give it all away (but you could).

I’m not advocating socialism or higher taxes, but I am suggesting a spirit of generosity that continually seeks to do the most good with the money that God has allowed you to earn.

You are blessed to be a blessing. Click To Tweet

However, there is a bigger picture that we need to look at, a worldwide one. According to the website globalrichlist.com, if you make over $49,000 a year, than you are in the top 1 percent worldwide.

You are blessed and need to be a blessing to others. Don’t be envious of the few who make more; be generous to the 99 percent who make less.

Did you know that about half the world lives on less than $4 a day—and that about a billion people live on less than $1 a day? Consider that next time you buy a gourmet coffee or rent a movie—your trivial expenditure equals the daily income of someone else.

Helping those in need is a spiritual issue, so is realizing that you are not part of the problem, but the solution.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Money: How Much is Enough?

Money: How Much is Enough?

How much money is enough when you give to charity?

When considering gifts to God, that is a difficult question to answer.  This is because God’s economy functions differently than ours. This is aptly illustrated in the following story:

Jesus notices the rich people giving gifts to the temple treasury.  Apparently, they would make a big show of this, to call attention to themselves and their “generosity.” (Think of dropping 100 pennies into the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas time, versus slipping in a dollar bill.)

After their loud and showy performance, a poor widow shuffles up and meekly drops in two pennies. We might wonder what two cents could do, but Jesus remarks that she was the most generous all, giving all that she had.

It seems that God is more concerned with our attitude about giving then he is with the amount that we give. That’s how things work in God’s economy.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 19-21, and today’s post is on Luke 21:1-4.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.