Generosity is always a risk. There’s always something else you could do with your money, always a worst-case scenario you could plan for, always a chance to secure yourself a little more. But for those of you willing to risk and step into the unknown with God, here are seven ways to be radically generous.
1. Show hospitality to strangers. The Bible commands us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” (Hebrews 13:2) And again, “Seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:13) Hospitality has a unique power to show the generous character of our God who welcomes strangers to his table. So, who could you invite to your table? And how could you help others taste and see that the Lord is good?
2. Comfort those in anguish. The story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is a frightening example of ignoring the needs of the poor. Like the rich man, we’re in danger of using our wealth to pile up comforts for ourselves, instead of making friends for eternity. We’re in danger of neglecting the poor and the suffering right around us. Radical (& biblical) generosity makes us ask: How could we use the wealth God has given us to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the poor? On the last day, our comfort given to the least of these will be one way Jesus judges the reality of our faith in him.
3. Give to everyone who asks of you. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Give to the one who begs from you and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:42) You could try practicing this for a month by pre-deciding that if someone asks for money or asks to borrow something you will give to everyone who asks of you. This exercise is a chance to reorient the impulse of your heart to be towards giving instead of protecting what you have. It’s an opportunity to believe that God is abundantly generous and will take care of your needs as well.
4. Forgive your debtors. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said, “And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4) What if you decided to give others a picture of God’s amazing forgiveness by meeting with the people who owe you money and forgiving them? You could joyfully tell them that Jesus has forgiven you of your debt of sin and you want to forgive their debt. Tell them it’s been canceled. They are free and clear.
5. Settle old accounts. After Zacchaeus met Jesus his relationship with money was dramatically altered. He said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) Has your use of money changed since you met Jesus? Maybe it’s time for you to settle old accounts, pay people back, restore what you stole, and show others that Jesus is a better possession.
6. Send out workers. In the little book of 3 John we meet a man named Gaius who generously sent out a few gospel preachers to preach. The apostle John encouraged him, “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name…” (3 John 6, 7) We find something similar in Romans 10:15: “How are they to preach unless they are sent?” Both passages call us to be partners in the gospel by sending out those who will preach the good news to others. So who could you send? Who are the pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders you already know? Who are the students who are planning to go to Bible college or seminary? What new church plants need resourcing? Your generosity will probably be the answer to their prayers.
7. Tell them no inheritance will do. Many parents and grandparents are passing down huge sums to their next of kin, but in a world of money-seeking relatives, what if you told yours that you don't want an inheritance? I'm sure you could find a use for more money, but what if you encouraged them to store up treasure and heaven and experience the joy of using their money now to advance God’s kingdom? Tell them you trust God with your future. Tell them you’ve already been promised an inheritance “that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)
Radical generosity is not a work we do to earn God’s favor. It’s not a penance we pay to atone for our sins. Generosity is our joyful response to seeing God’s radical generosity for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. (John 3:16)