Do you know someone who is sacrificially generous, someone who forgoes want, or even need, for the sake of giving? How would you characterize them?
If you consider those who are sacrificially generous, you may notice some common characteristics. Though they may have different backgrounds, incomes, and standards of living, they often share some similarities.
Here are ten of those common characteristics shared by sacrificially generous people:
1. Sacrificially generous people have open hands.
They understand that God owns everything (Psalm 24:1). Everything in their possession is not their possession. Possession does not equal ownership. Just like the servants in the Parable of the Talents, while the servants possessed the talents, the talents were still owned by the master. Because sacrificially generous people understand that God owns everything, they recognize God can do with it as He chooses. So, everything is held with open hands, ready to be used by God.
2. Sacrificially generous people are not entitled.
They recognize that humans are deserving of only one thing—eternal condemnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Therefore, anything they have been given beyond eternal condemnation is a gift from God (James 1:3). Sacrificially generous people do not want what they deserve and understand they are entitled to nothing beyond the consequence of sin.
3. Sacrificially generous people overflow with gratitude.
Because sacrificially generous people recognize that they are entitled to nothing, they are grateful for everything. They do not need a fancy car, big house, or exotic vacation to be grateful. They thank God for the breath of life, fellowship with other believers, and the gift of salvation. While you will rarely hear the sacrificially giver say, “I deserve...”, you will hear them regularly say, “Thank you.”
While you will rarely hear the sacrificially giver say, “I deserve...”, you will hear them regularly say, “Thank you.”
4. Sacrificially generous people tend to be incredibly joyful.
While you likely know several grumpy, stingy individuals, you likely do not know a single grumpy, generous individual. The Bible teaches us that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35, NLT). Generosity increases one’s joy because it loosens a person’s grip on the material world and tightens their grip on Christ. The result? Joy.
5. Sacrificially generous people don’t ask, “How much should I give?” but “How much should I keep?”
This is a question found in the book, God and Money. For sacrificially generous people, giving is not a “have to” but a “want to.” They are not looking for a minimum but a maximum. They desperately desire to financially participate in God’s mission on earth. Sacrificially generous people are not consumed with checking a box on a spiritual checklist, but the opportunity to financially participate in God’s mission on earth.
6. Sacrificially generous people don’t wait for someone to ask for help, they seek it out.
They ask, “Can I help you?” And they mean it. They want to be used by God to help others and further His Kingdom, and they will not passively wait until an opportunity arises. They go find opportunities.
7. Sacrificially generous people have fewer material possessions than those with similar incomes.
Their house may be smaller than someone with a similar income. They may drive a less expensive car than someone with similar income. And they may not go on as many vacations as someone with a similar income. But sacrificially generous people don’t care because they know they have something far better than any of those things.
8. Sacrificially generous people are ridiculously content.
They have found contentment in Christ and his gifts rather than stuff. Sacrificially generous people have experienced the unfulfilled promises the material world brings. They know that possessions can never provide ultimate satisfaction. So, they have placed their hope in the only One who can provide ultimate satisfaction and contention. And He has delivered on all of His promises.
9. Sacrificially generous people are not just generous with their money.
They certainly give their finances, but they give much more than just their finances. They recognize God has called them to leverage all He has given them for the sake of the Kingdom. Therefore, they volunteer at church. They take care of their elderly neighbor. They mentor those who are younger than them. Generosity infiltrates all areas of their lives, not just their finances.
10. Sacrificially generous people are excited about life.
These people are on an adventure they could have never orchestrated on their own. They are on mission. Because they live with open hands, God has taken their resources and used them in unimaginable ways. They consider what God has let them experience to be an honor and they cannot wait to see what God does next.
11. Sacrificially generous people are excited about eternity.
They know Matthew 6:20 well—"Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” (ESV). Because they have aggressively shifted their investment strategy to heaven, they look forward to seeing their return on investment. Sacrificially generous people eagerly await the moment when God reveals the true impact of their sacrifice, including the number of people who are with them in heaven because of their generosity. For sacrificially generous people, death does not mean loss of earthly treasures, but realization of heavenly treasures.
Do these characteristics describe those who you know to be sacrificially generous? Do they seem to accurately reflect your experience with those who are living with open hands?
Ultimately, sacrificially generous people experience what we see in 1 Timothy 6:19—"By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life” (NLT).
True life—the present blessings associated with aligning yourself with God’s design. Contentment. Satisfaction. Being a part of something far greater than yourself. True life.
And what about you? Would others identify these characteristics in your life? Do others see you as joyful, ridiculously content, and excited about life and eternity? If not, what would it take for you to take hold of true life?