How to Train Yourself to Be Generous

God is like giant gumball machine. At least it seems that way sometimes. We see the colorful blessings we want behind the rigid plastic. We find the right spot to put in our coin to make the request. And –pop! — out it comes into our waiting hands.

We’ve been able to train ourselves pretty well to expect to get what we want from God. But we don’t seem to be all that eager to train ourselves to be generous with what He gives us.

As I study Scripture, I see repeatedly that God is more concerned about my becoming generous than in my getting more sweet treats.

Being generous in giving is another one of those counter-intuitive truths captured in a gospel song I dimly recall from my childhood:

So give ’till you can’t give anymore,

Give Him more than you can afford,

And you’ll find your cup will overflow.

You just can’t out-give the Lord.

You Have to Give to Get

It’s when we have the greatest needs that we tend to shut the cupboards, get stingy with the peanut butter, and call it “prudent planning.” [ See You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Start Living Generously ] But God calls it foolish:

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38 ESV)

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. (Eccl. 11:1 ESV)

And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44 ESV)

How to Train Yourself to Be Generous

How can we intentionally get more generous in our giving? Here are a few lessons I’m learning that might be of help:

  1. Practice the Art of Appreciation. It starts with changing my own mindset about just how good I have it. [ Get a practical tip here. ] To be intentionally grateful is to sincerely thank God for my health, the cup of fresh water I’m drinking, the smiles on my children’s faces each morning, my wife’s cheerful perseverance in the face of the unknown, and even for the many toys that litter the floor. Yes, especially those.
  2. Let Go of God’s Stuff. We know it’s all His, of course, but…. It’s that long pause that proves my point. Be careful not to resist the Spirit’s urging to give His stuff to others. Just the other day, someone shared a need. We had the means to meet it. Before I could listen to the excuses piling up in my head, I offered to give. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” (Prov. 3:27 ESV)
  3. Seek Ways to Give More Generously. It’s obvious. Maybe that’s why we miss it. Look for ways to give God’s stuff away. It might not always be money — although that gift shouldn’t scare us either. Time, energy, and other resources are just as necessary. A friend stopped by just this morning for fresh veggies from our garden. Go ahead. Crunch all the carrots you want. He’ll make more.
  4. Give Beyond Your Comfort Zone.  Faith hurts. If it feels comfortable, it’s likely not faith. Not yet. “Faith isn’t faith until it’s tested” (Steve Miller). Believe me, I’ve been there many times and assured myself that I had given all I could. Now God is teaching me to embrace what John Piper calls a simpler “wartime lifestyle” to engage Kingdom conflict.
  5. Give Expecting Nothing in Return. God warns us that He eagerly waits to bless us beyond our imaginations — if we will but wait on Him and not try to manipulate His will for our ends.  (Ps. 81) Too often, we give generously to others with our other hand already extended toward God behind our backs. Give and walk away. When the Israelites tried to make their schemes work, God let them have what they wanted, but they lost what they could have had.

His ways are certainly not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. Especially, when it comes to how we can train ourselves to be generous in our own giving. Want proof? Try out-giving God. I dare you.

What other tips can you offer to train ourselves to be generous? How would you rate your own willingness to be generous?  Leave a commentto share the growth.

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