In his book, Money, Possessions, and Eternity, Randy Alcorn wrote, “Christians are God’s delivery people, through whom he does his giving to a needy world. We are conduits of God’s grace to others. Our eternal investment portfolio should be full of the most strategic kingdom-building projects to which we can disburse God’s funds.”
When you consider those around you who call themselves followers of Christ, what characteristics stand out? Are they humble? Are they bold? Are they filled with joy?
What about you? What are some characteristics others would identify in you, a Christian?
Certainly, there are several characteristics that should be present in a Christian, ones that make it obvious we are following our Savior, Jesus. One of those characteristics is sacrificial generosity.
Sacrificial generosity occurs when something personally desired and beneficial is given up. It is neither comfortable nor convenient. In a “me first” society, the idea of sacrificial generosity runs against the grain. And throughout history, followers of Christ have been known for these sometimes-shocking acts.
But why? Why should Christians be known for their sacrificial generosity? Here’s a look at five reasons:
1. The lack of ownership.
The Bible teaches us that we are not owners. God is the Creator (Genesis 1:1), therefore, He is the rightful owner. Everything that exists belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). From the sun, moon, and stars to our checking accounts, mutual funds, and life insurance policies, it all belongs to Him.
In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we see the master handing over his money to the servants. What quickly becomes apparent in this parable is that there never is a transfer of ownership. Even though the servants possessed the money, they never owned the money. Possession does not equal ownership. The master had simply entrusted them with his resources.
Possession does not equal ownership.
This principle should move us, not to remain closed fisted with possessions, but to have open hands, ready to give as God directs. After all, they are His possessions anyway. He has just simply entrusted them to us. Christians should be characterized by sacrificial generosity because, ultimately, everything belongs to God.
2. The gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, we find Paul defining the gospel, “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (NIV). This is the good news. And this is the news that changes everything about our past, present, and future.
This is also the news that makes sense of sacrificial generosity. As Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Without the gospel, without the resurrection, hoarding and personal gain make sense, not sacrificially generosity. We sacrificially give because our God sacrificially gave and overcame death, validating our faith. Christians should be characterized by sacrificial generosity because they understand the gospel.
3. The grace.
For the Christian, grace is the undeserved favor of God. The gospel demonstrates the magnitude of God’s grace—God’s perfect Son, taking on the punishment of our sin, making a way for us to have a right relationship with God.
And while we certainly look to the cross for our ultimate grace, we experience the grace of God in all areas of our lives. Our relationships are a demonstration of God’s grace. Our possessions are a demonstration of God’s grace. Our breath is a demonstration of God’s grace. God’s grace surrounds us every day, all the time.
How do you know if someone understands they have received God’s grace? They are gracious to others. And there are few better tangible demonstrations of grace than sacrificial generosity, to give away that which we want so that another person can have. Christians should be characterized by sacrificial giving because they have been a recipient of God’s lavish grace.
4. The mission.
In Matthew 28:16-20, we read Jesus’ final words to the disciples. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (NIV). These words are known as the Great Commission.
God’s mission is to have disciples from every tribe, tongue, and nation. And He allows us to participate in this mission. Sacrificial generosity is one of the ways the gospel reaches the ears of our neighbors and those around the world. Generosity fuels the advancement of His Kingdom by providing the necessary resources to reach the nations. Our sacrifice leads to others hearing about our Savior. Christians should be characterized by sacrificial giving because they are a part of God’s global mission.
Generosity fuels the advancement of His Kingdom by providing the necessary resources to reach the nations.
5. The eternal rewards.
As Christians, that which we give up, we gain. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” According to Jesus, our generosity is not a loss; it is an investment.
God has created a system whereby eternal treasures are grasped when His disciples let go. A runner sacrifices his time, money, and body to train for the race. He is motivated to endure present discomfort so that he can experience the future happiness of crossing the finish line. Likewise, we cheerfully endure the discomfort that comes with sacrificial giving so that we can experience future, everlasting rewards. We give because our eyes are set on eternity. Christians should be characterized by sacrificial generosity because they are storing up for themselves eternal rewards.
The Christian is one who should be characterized by sacrificial generosity. The lack of ownership, the gospel, the grace, the mission, and the eternal rewards should cause believers to live with their hands wide open, ready to give and go wherever God leads. May each of us who follow Christ be known for our sacrificial generosity.