As a parent, we try to instill the principle of sharing into our children. We teach them to share their snacks, their toys, and belongings with others. It is not a concept easily grasped as they learn early on to say, “It’s mine!”.
We work at it with our children though, in an effort to raise them to become generous adults.
Paul, in his writing to Timothy, says this:
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:18, NIV)
Paul was not saying there was anything wrong in having possessions for ourselves. His desire was for us to know the attitude we were to have with our possessions. He wanted us to use that which we have been given properly.
He used an authoritative word, “command” so that we would know without a doubt this is the responsible way to handle our wealth of things. He also recognized that we might have trouble sharing with others. In fact, our instinct might be to hold onto what we have so that we would never be without.
This verse is challenging in that it tells us “to be generous.” The dictionary informs me that generosity is a frame of mind, not solely an action. It is a frame of mind that prompts an action. A generous spirit is “free from meanness or smallness of mind” (dictionary.com). We are free from small thinking because we know we have a big God.
It entails being liberal – not giving just what I won’t miss – but giving liberally, abundantly, amply, or extravagantly. We can respond liberally because our God has responded liberally towards us.
Responding rightly recognizes that God has lavished on us and trusts that He will continue to do so. We give knowing it has been given and that we, in turn, give.
“God supplies everything, his purpose is beneficent, and it entails obligation.” (author unknown)
He does not give to us for the purpose of our holding onto it. He gives to us, thus obligating us to give to others. It is for our own good that we give …
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves….” (verse 19)
In giving to others, our hearts grow in gratitude as we recognize Him as the “giver of all gifts” (James 1:17). We become truly rich as we give, not as we get. Giving does not diminish our wealth but increases it as our true wealth is founded in His joy and peace.
Eugene Peterson put it this way in The Message …
“Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage –
to do good,
to be rich in helping others,
to be extravagantly generous.
If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:19)
It’s a challenging command, for sure. Let’s take the challenge today and be a people that are “extravagantly generous”.