God undoubtedly calls us to be generous as believers in Him, just as he has been the ultimate in generosity by giving his only Son to take the punishment we deserved. But what does the Bible actually say about generosity? Here are just a few of the many verses in the Bible about
Deuteronomy 15:7–8 (ESV)
7 If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Even in the Old Testament, God calls his people to be generous with one another, particularly with those in need. He not only speaks to the action of generosity, but the inward spirit — referencing the state of the person’s heart and warning against hardening it. He also puts no limits on this generosity, noting its complete open-handedness and including the qualifier “whatever it may be.”
Proverbs 11:24–25 (ESV)
24 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
25 Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and none who waters will himself be watered.
As with all passages in Proverbs, these verses are packed with poignant wisdom, speaking to the heart as well as the practical side of life. Here, we find a testament to the value of generosity. Yes, we may sacrifice tangible blessings when we give, but we gain what matters. We become more like God and find our contentment in Him, which is worth far more than money. In one way or another, our generosity always benefits us as well.
Matthew 10:42 (ESV)
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Jesus often speaks of our reward in Heaven after we leave life on this earth, having followed him as a disciple. This verse in particular speaks to the significance of our generosity, implying that God notices our faithfulness even in the most seemingly small acts of compassion toward those in need. Our day-to-day interactions with others are opportunities to be generous, and if we continue to be faithful with those opportunities, we are storing up blessings in Heaven.
Luke 21:1–4 (ESV)
1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all eshe had to live on.”
This story is a well-known testament of the power of a sacrifice for the Lord. It is more valuable to God for a person who has little to give a portion of what they have than someone who has much, knowing that it reflects the condition of each person’s heart. When the poor widow gives “all she had to live on,” it is significant to Jesus, as it required faith and dependence on God to provide for her, as well as reflected how much she loved and worshipped God.
1 John 3:16–18 (ESV)
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
This verse in 1 John makes it clear that because Christ gave everything for us when we were desperate to be absolved of a debt we could not pay, we are to follow in His footsteps by giving our earthly gifts to those in need. Our belief is challenged in this passage, as it reminds us our deeds must be an outward expression of our faith. Deeds do not save us, but they put faith into action. Giving should be a result of our faith and an act of love and worship, not of obligation.