Generosity in the Bible

Our Creator God is the prime example of generosity in the Bible. The Bible includes many other examples that show the importance and benefits of giving.

Money is important. We need it to survive, and we work hard to get it. Most of us like money and would like to have more of it. And we have a number of financial responsibilities to fulfill with our money.

Interestingly, one of those responsibilities outlined in the Bible is generosity. God is generous, and He wants us to learn to be generous. The Bible explains the importance—and the benefits—of giving.

Bible verses about generosity

Everything we have comes from our generous God. He gives us life (Job 33:4), and He gives us the power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Paul encouraged the rich not to trust in “uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

James 1:5 tells us that God “gives generously to all” (New International Version).

And the Bible instructs us to be generous people. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told people not to be like the Pharisees and make a big show when they gave gifts to the poor. “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).

In the next verse Jesus said, “When you do a charitable deed” (emphasis added)—not if you give money to the poor. It’s built into this passage that Jesus’ followers are to be givers.

Moses said we are to share what we have with people who need help.

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs . . .

“For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land’” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11).

Having concern for the weak and helpless is to be part of how we live. Gentleness and compassion are to be part of our lives. For more on this subject, see the article “Christian Giving.”

Examples of generosity in the Bible

The Bible gives a number of examples of people being generous, setting the standard for us.

Consider the example of the Roman centurion Cornelius. He and his family were among the first gentiles in the New Testament to receive the Holy Spirit and be converted. God sent an angel to tell Cornelius that his prayers and his giving of alms to poor people had been noticed by God.

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’

“And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God’” (Acts 10:1-4).

Cornelius’ generosity was commended by God.

Another example is the ideal wife described in Proverbs 31. She takes care of her family and is respected. The Bible also tells of her generosity: “She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20).

And Jesus highly praised the generosity of a poor widow:

“And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.

“So He said, ‘Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had’” (Luke 21:1-4).

Giving what we can

Examples like the widow’s mites are surprising. We are not surprised by generosity of wealthy people who have their houses paid for, a full retirement established, and the college plans for their children fully funded.

Most of us are not like that. Yet God wants generosity in all of His people, not just the wealthy. And, surprisingly, those who don’t have much will often embrace giving more than those who have much.

God does not expect us to give what we do not have. He wants us to take care of our families. He wants us to make wise decisions.

But we should also remember that our Father will give us what we need. The Bible gives us reassurance about this.

Acts 9 gives another example of a generous woman who shared what she had. The biblical account begins with Tabitha (also called Dorcas) becoming sick and dying. So her church brethren sent for Peter.

“Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.

“But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:39-40).

Before Peter raised her from the dead, the people showed him garments she had made for them. We’re not told whether Tabitha had a lot of money. She may or may not have been poor, but she helped many people and shared the fruits of her efforts.

She set a wonderful example of giving.

Benefits of giving

King David tells us to remember the poor and be blessed. “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed” (Psalm 41:1-3).

He will bless us in our troubles and in our bodies. He will also bless us financially. “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:25).

King Solomon wrote a similar thought in Proverbs 22:9: “He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.”

In Psalm 37:25, King David, near the end of his life, said that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. And he, being king, was in a position to be aware of such things.

The psalm goes on to say that the righteous are generous and that their children are blessed. We all want our children and grandchildren to be blessed. Those blessings are tied to our generosity.

God’s promise to us

God assures us that we will have what we need. “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

This is a promise from the Creator of the universe. Our Father will take care of us.

We have seen that God wants His people to be generous. This includes the rich and the poor. He has promised to provide for us and will reward our generosity.

Study more about being a generous, sharing person in our article “The Art of Giving” and our blog posts “The Generous Soul Will Be Made Rich” and “He Who Sows Bountifully.”

About the Author

Ken McIntosh

Ken McIntosh is a member of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, who attends the Fort Worth, Texas, congregation.

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