By Joshua Eidson
What would enable you to be more generous?
A larger salary?
Selling your house and your dog?
Although these may help with the math of increased generosity, they will not lead to a spirit of generosity. Sometimes people struggle with whether or not to tithe, let alone give above and beyond that level. If our basis for giving is to adhere to the principle or discipline of tithing, then we have vastly missed the point of giving. God desires that we give to His work and to others with a spirit of genuine generosity. But to give generously, we must first be people of contentment. The foundation for a generous spirit is a content soul.
The Bible readily speaks to the blessedness of a spirit of contentment. Proverbs 15:16 warns “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.” Contentment is the acknowledgement and acceptance of Christ’s sufficiency for all our needs. I don’t believe this truth just speaks to our spiritual needs; as Matthew 6:26-34 reminds us, God provides nourishment to the animals and adornment for the plants. If He cares that much for birds and flowers, how much more does He desire to care and provide for us?
God wants us to know He takes great joy in providing for us, and He is more than capable to provide any need we have. Christ even teaches us to pray with determined contentment in the Father’s provision in Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.” We must realize He is the ultimate provider of our needs; that realization is the source of our contentment.
God expects us to be diligent, hard workers, and good stewards of the resources He provides. A content life is not a lazy, care-free life. God will not reward the sluggard for his supposed reliance on God’s provision, for his faith has no works. Being a diligent steward is a way of showing our faith through good works (James 2:17).
The purpose of contentment in Christ’s sufficiency isn’t that we have less stress. It isn’t even about us. It is about putting our faith into action, becoming instruments of God’s blessing and provision to the ministries and people He has placed within our sphere of influence. God expects us to bless those around us with the resources He has provided to and through us. A natural outgrowth of contentment is generosity. Once we really know and trust in our hearts that Christ cares enough to provide our needs, it unshackles our hands and hearts so we can freely share with others God’s blessings.
Think of how awesome it is that God desires to partner with us to provide for others. So, the cycle continues. God is a dependable provider in whom we can trust; therefore, we can be free to share our blessings with others. Trusting in His sufficiency frees us from worry or concern that we will have enough, when we decide to be generous in this situation or that. We can give with an unburdened desire to serve God’s work through ourselves and others. God desires for us to give cheerfully at whatever level we are able.
Do I believe the biblical principle of tithing still applies? Yes! But God is more concerned with our attitude while giving any amount, than whether we legalistically follow a calculation on how much we “must” give to His work. Second Corinthians 9:7 states this principle clearly: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
So how do we become a “cheerful giver?” By starting with the truth of God’s sufficiency and allowing Him to grow a content heart within us. Then, from a content heart will spring unrestrained generosity.
About the Writer: Joshua Eidson is accounting administrator for the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement: www.BoardofRetirement.com.