On Generosity, Pt 4

See part 3

Generosity and Faith

In chapter 2 of his letter, James is straightforward about the relationship between Generosity and Faith:

  • “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”  (verse 14)
    • Does this remind you of the young rich man? If not the next verse will.
  • “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”  (verses 15-16)
    • Still don’t see it? Next one seals the deal.
  • So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (verse 17)

Remember Jesus’ words to the young man: “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Faith in Jesus means believing Jesus, trusting Jesus. We do this by:

  • Providing for needs of others
  • Because words are cheap
  • So faith without works is dead

There’s even a more compact version of everything I’ve talked about so far. Listen to what Paul wrote to his student Timothy:

  • “Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. ” (1 Timothy 6:17‭-‬19)

And Paul didn’t mess around with living his life this way. We find a story in Acts 20 where Paul is about to sail away from Ephesus to Jerusalem for possibly the last time in his life, where he expects to be jailed for proclaiming this new way of life of Jesus. He said:

  • “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:33‭-‬35

No Worries, Brother

So what can we get from all this? Don’t worry about our money.  Don’t worry about lacking it.  Don’t worry about giving too much or not having enough left for ourselves.  Ask God to give you the wisdom and he’ll give it to you.  Like James, the brother of Jesus wrote:

  • If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  (James 1:5)

Speaking of wisdom, what does one writer of Proverbs say?

  • “O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.”  (Proverbs ‭30:7-9‬)

And remember the first proverb I mentioned in this series:

  • “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  (Proverbs 11:25) 

And this final one, from Jesus himself:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

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