Monday October 9, 2023 From Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving
The Joy of Giving
“How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?”
— Psalm 116:12, NIV
Scripture is replete with examples and teachings that focus on possessions, wealth, giving, gifts, generosity, offerings, charity, and sacrifice. Christians give because they serve a giving God—the giver of every good gift, the source of life and love.
Jesus’ teachings abound with tales of rich and poor, generous and shrewd, givers and takers, charitable and selfish, faithful and fearful. He commends the poor widow putting her two coins in the treasury; giving out of her poverty, she “put in all she had to live on” (Luke 21:1-4). The story upsets expectations by pointing to proportion rather than amount as the measure of extravagance.
Jesus’ unexpected love for Zacchaeus so radically changes the tax collector that he gives his wealth to the poor and to those whom he has wronged. Giving serves justice and is a fruit of Christ’s transforming grace (Luke 19:1-10).
The story of the good Samaritan highlights extraordinary generosity. The Samaritan not only binds up the wounds of the stranger left to die in the road, but he takes the stranger to an inn, pays for the stranger’s care, and commits himself to provide for the long-term well-being of the stranger (Luke 10:35).
The Samaritan’s generosity, like Christ’s compassion, knows no bounds.
And beyond all the teachings and parables, the followers of Jesus see in the gracious and costly gift of his sacrifice and death the ultimate self-revelation of God. The most memorized Scripture of the New Testament expresses the infinite nature of God’s gracious love revealed in the gift we have received in Christ: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16).
In these Scriptures above—the widow giving all she had, Zacchaeus in his transformation, the
Samaritan with his compassion, and God’s self-giving in Christ—giving is always extravagant, life changing, and joyous.
God uses our practice of giving to reconfigure our interior life. By giving, we craft a different inner desire as the driving element of life. Our motivations change.
People give because generosity helps them achieve God’s purposes in themselves. By giving, we develop the inner qualities of generosity. Generosity is not a spiritual attribute someone acquires apart from the practice of giving. It becomes discernable only through visible behavior. We cannot become generous and hold on to everything we have for ourselves without letting go. The opposite of generosity is greediness, selfishness. These are not the qualities that lead to life, and so by our giving we cultivate a different nature inside ourselves.