The Heart of Generosity
My favorite Christmas movies are Home Alone 1 and 2. I love the mood, hi-jinks, and the fact that it’s a sweet family movie. There is one thing that plagues me however. What in the world did Kevin’s dad do for a living!? I mean, they live in a huge house and can apparently afford to pay for all of their extended family—which is huge—to go on vacation with them each year. The man is either incredibly wealthy or wildly irresponsible with his finances.
Money is a touchy subject for everyone. We all get defensive when people pry into our finances—whether it be how much make, how we spend it, or even how we don't. Whether we're living the life of decadence or we're pinching pennies, people make judgments based on what we do with our money whether they speak it or not.
Scripture has a lot to say about money and sometimes it can really step on people's toes. In fact, money is the second most referenced topic in the Bible and is mentioned over 800 times! Given the frequency of the topic, God must think how we handle our money is a pretty big deal. God isn’t a hater of wealth, but he is concerned about our heart.
Giving is so much more than following a simple command to give 10% or 20% of your income. It’s a misconception to think that our giving is about checking a box. Giving, like so many other things, is a heart issue. Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (ESV). Later, in verse 24 he says, "'No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.’” He makes clear for us that giving is a heart issue. What kingdom has your heart’s focus? Is it the earthly kingdom or the heavenly kingdom? Where are you investing?
If I’m honest, I can want to be a hoarder. I want to advance my own kingdom. When I get some money, I want to spend it on me or on my family instead of blessing others. I want to try and live in that Home Alone life instead of pursuing eternal treasure in heaven. This is not the example that is laid out for me in Scripture.
The early church in Acts gives the beautiful example of taking care of each other’s needs within the church. The people sold their possessions and distributed the money as any had need (Acts 2:45). Paul speaks of the generosity of the Macedonian church in 2 Corinthians 8. He said they gave according to their means and beyond their means (verse 3) and instructs the Corinthian churches to do the same (verse 14).
The point is that as believers, we are to be marked by our generosity. As always, we look to Jesus as our ultimate example. Paul makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 8:9 when he says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” While Paul isn’t advocating for a poverty gospel, he is advocating that we look to Jesus as our example and live in an overly generous way that would make the world confused by the way we spend our money.
We see a pattern in New Testament giving. Our first priority is taking care of other believers—this most easily manifests itself within the church. The church should be an attractive body to be a part of. Being a part of a local body of believers should mean that we take care of each other as the body of Christ. One of the best ways to do this is to be a regular giver to the churches weekly offering. Our first priority is making sure our body is healthy. After we know the body can function properly, we then reach out to the world as we are able. Jesus, after all, often met the physical need before he addressed the spiritual. None of this can happen though unless we make it a priority to be an overly generous people.
As we have said, given the emphasis, God obviously thinks where and how we spend our money is important. All good gifts come from him so he has concern for how we use those good gifts that he blesses us with. When it comes down to it, it is a heart matter. Where do the affections of our hearts reside?
No matter what Kevin’s dad did, he obviously was wealthy and he used that wealth to treat his family well. When we realize that we’ve been given everything in Christ by a ridiculously rich and generous Father, our heart's affections are raised to the proper kingdom. We’ve been brought into the family of God and we’ve been treated better than any family member in Home Alone. Let’s show others the joy of being in the family by being overly generous just as our Father has been to us.