“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.” – Ecclesiastes 5:10
“Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” – Hebrews 13:5
“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” – Proverbs 14:21
Daily, I’m inspired by people who have mastered the art of cultivating lives of generosity. Some of the most beautiful people I know seem to be the most lavish givers. Making choices to live lives greater than themselves, their hands and hearts are wide open. Embracing the upside down Kingdom of God mentality, they’ve discovered it indeed is more blessed to give than to receive. Our culture tells us to wait for the big “stuff,” big stages, lights, the grandiose moments to do something “great” for God. The generous people I’m referring to look for ways to serve God in the small, everyday opportunities that surround them. They don’t wait for the next person to do it – they show up and they do it.
That’s what marks lives of generosity: a person who jumps in first and says, “I’ll do it.”
Standing first in line to meet the needs of others: the kid who needs financial help to go to camp, the cashier at the grocery store who’s had a rough day and just needs someone to lend a little time to listen, a man who needs help moving his belongings to his new apartment. Their lives are marked by the understanding that the more they give, the more they get, because of their true Provider: Christ alone. As I watch them freely give their time, money, and giftings I witness their worlds become larger and larger (see Proverbs 11:24). Continually, I’ve evaluated my life and others lives and wondered, “What really holds us back from living fully open handed?”
I believe the true struggle behind a lack of generosity isn’t always rooted in stingy hearts, but many times hearts rooted in fear… fear of not having enough for ourselves, fear of the future, fear of our own lack. So often, it’s not a love issue but a trust issue. An assurance that as we are obedient and pour out to meet needs of those around us, Christ has promised to meet our needs. We have been blessed to bless others.
There is a common denominator in the lives of my most generous friends: a deep love and trust in God. I find it interesting that the writer of Hebrews addresses being satisfied with what you have and trust that God will not abandon you in the same passage. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” The Bible reminds us that Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides has promised us that He will NEVER fail us or abandon us. As we grow in trust that He will never let us down, our tightly closed fists become open hands to give and live out that abundance. We can rest assured He will take care of us. He won’t fail us, ever!
A giving life is a Spirit-led life. It’s a grateful life that truly knows the value of all that has it has been given. Generosity and love run parallel to each other, working hand in hand like a well-oiled machine. You can’t have one without the other. Love requires action, it requires generosity, and it will cost us something. Christ modeled this best for us in His life on Earth in that He loved us so much, so deeply, so richly, that He gave.
I remember making a vow to myself as a young girl that no matter what, whatever it took, I wouldn’t lack as an adult financially. Through the power of God and His Word, that inner vow I made to myself has had to be broken. I realized I was living out of a false truth I had created long ago: the false truth that money could bring me security or heal a wounded heart in any way. When I was a child, my parents faced a season of divorce and much loss. Among other things, part of the loss we experienced at that time was monetary. At just twelve years old, sitting in our little living room in Arkansas, I remember pulling the curtains back to watch a wrecker service tow our car away. After my parent’s divorce, my mom had a hard time financially and the bills caught up to us. That day, I recall feeling the car was one more thing that was uncontrollably slipping through my little fingers. During so much loss and heartbreak, I remember making the vow. I felt money could somehow bring us security, worth, stability. The day they came to take some of our things, I watched my Mom cry about losing our house and our cars. My heart would beat fast and I would awaken at night over money worries. A root of false truth took hold of my heart… a deep concern of not ever having enough. Storms and tragedy in life can sometimes do this to us. The waves have a way of tossing us into uncertainty and mistrust. Over time God has healed this part of my heart by proving over and over (and sometimes over again a million times) that He is my true source, the Meeter of all of my needs. I’ve made a new vow with Him that replaced that old way of thinking. He is my Provider always and He is a good, good Father. Our trouble comes when we mentally misplace who our source is. Our true Source and Meeter of EVERY need is Christ. Provision doesn’t lie in money, but in Him. He has promised to supply all of our needs according to His riches.
As an old man, Solomon, who is known as the wisest man who ever lived, pours God-given wisdom concerning life and godly living into the pages of Ecclesiastes. He gives us a roadmap to life principles that lead to peace, prosperity, and true satisfaction— things to practice and apply in our lives and ways to run from. Being a man of earthly wealth and power, he attempts to keep us from being misled in our thinking about money. Coming from a man who seemed to have it all, in Ecclesiastes 5 he says people that have a love for money will never have enough or will never be satisfied by it. He calls it meaningless to think that money will ever bring true happiness. If we listen to Solomon’s advice, we can save heartache and trouble, regret, stress, debt, and roads to false idols. He is saying here, earthly goods or wealth will never bring satisfaction to our souls. It will always leave us wanting more. The truth is we become a slave and tied to what we truly worship. We will actually begin to mirror it. If a person worships money, they are sure to become greedy. A person who loves money becomes its slave. No house, no car, no job will ever be enough or bring the internal satisfaction and peace that people seek through it. Greed is a liar. It tells us to hold on to everything we have. The overflow of a greedy heart will always leave us with an empty life. Greed will always leave us with less.
The truth about being non-generous? It leaves us:
- empty instead of satisfied
- self-focused instead of God focused
Practical ways to GROW in generosity:
- Consider someone you know that you think to be an extremely generous person. Keep close watch on how they serve and the values in their lives they apply to pour out to those around them.
- We’ve all been freely blessed in areas of our lives that we can give back to bless others, whether it be through our time, resources, money, or giftedness. What act could you do in your personal life that you see as a way to grow in being generous and mindful of the needs around you?
- Who in your life would benefit and be blessed by your generosity today? Is there something you can do for that person to bless them?
This week, no matter where you find yourself in cultivating a life of generosity, I pray we all re- evaluate and ask God how we can grow even more in this area. Ask the Lord daily what needs He has put around you that you can help to meet, whether it be through money, your time, or your gifts. There is always a way to give.
Here’s to growing in giving, being obedient, and living richer, more meaningful lives that are bigger than ourselves.
Meshali Mitchell is a photographer, currently residing in Dallas, Texas and available for travel worldwide. What defines her most is her heart for Christ and passion for people. She believes it’s the simple things that make life beautiful…like a good book, a front porch swing and chips and salsa. You can see Meshali’s photography and read more of the heart behind her work on Instagram + Her website: @meshali /// www.meshalimitchellphoto.com