Starting around Thanksgiving and through Christmas morning, we talk a lot about gifts this time of year. Many people think that the wise men invented gift-giving for Christmas.
But that’s not true. It was Jesus. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son for us. God gave himself to you on the very first Christmas so you would have your sins forgiven, a purpose for living, and a home in heaven. Jesus is the original Christmas gift.
The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of generosity. Acts 15:11 says, “We are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us” (The Message).
God wants us to become generous, not just for one season a year, but for our entire lives. And being generous isn’t easy because we live in a very materialistic, self-centered world.
When we conform our hearts to the selfish ways of this world, we won’t enjoy the outcome. It’s no accident that the word miser comes from the same root word as miserable. Takers are miserable.
But none of us are born generous. It’s a skill we need to learn so that it becomes a habitual part of our lives.
Why is being generous so important?
1. Generosity makes us more like God. “The godly are generous givers” (Psalm 37:21 NLT). You simply can’t become godly without becoming generous. I once did a study on some of the key words in the Bible: believe, pray, love, give, and a few others.
The word believe is used 272 times.
The word pray is used 371 times.
The word love is used 714 times.
But the word give is used 2,162 times.
Why? Because God wants us to become more generous so that we can become like him.
2. Generosity is a cure for selfishness. “But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life” (Proverbs 1:18-19 NLT). Materialism creates all kinds of trouble in our lives. It’s everywhere in our world today. The only way to overcome it is to give. Every time you give, your heart grows bigger, you grow spiritually, and you break the grip of materialism in your life.
3. Generosity deepens relationships. “Your heart will be where your treasure is” (Matthew 6:21 NCV). Giving always draws you toward whoever you’re giving to. If you give to God, you’ll grow close to God. If you give to other people, you’ll grow close to them. Your heart follows your treasure. That’s how God designed us.
4. Generosity stretches our faith. “Your very giving proves the reality of your faith” (2 Corinthians 9:13 PHILLIPS). Faith is like a muscle. When you use it, faith grows. The biggest way God tests our faith is through our finances. I know many people who trust God to save them and to keep his promises, but they don’t trust God enough to follow what he says about generosity with their money.
5. Generosity blesses us back. “Good will come to those who are generous” (Psalm 112:5 NIV). God wants to bless us, and he has set up the universe so that we are blessed when we are more like him. Over and over in the Bible, we’re told that he blesses generous people. It’s far more fun to give than to receive. The happiest people on earth are givers, not takers.
6. Generosity is an investment for eternity. “Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home” (Luke 16:9 NLT). Even the best investments in this life only last one lifetime. When you invest in eternity, the blessings never end. Investing in eternity is risk-free because you’re investing with the one you trust the most, Jesus. When you invest with him, you’re making an eternal difference.
I don’t know what will happen in 2023. But I do know you’ll have plenty of opportunities to give. And when you do, “[God] will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. . . . You will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous” (2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NLT).
I’ve lived this cycle many times. I’ve discovered—after a lifetime of trying—you simply can’t outgive God.
Giving isn’t just connected to Christmas. God wants you to be generous all year long, so that you build it into your character and it becomes a habit.
And even though generosity, whether you give out of your time, treasures, or talents, goes beyond the Christmas season, this Christmas would be a great time to start.