The Heart(s) of Generosity

Mar 31st 2011

I’ve been thinking lately about generosity, specifically the heart of generosity.  generosityHeart as in passion, motivation, what drives generosity.  Here are a few of the hearts of generosity.

1) Faithfulness: This is heart behind the generosity that we often call stewardship.  The masterpiece portrait of the faithful giver is the tither.  Regularly, consistently, loyally, faithfully, a percentage is given.  Duty is required.  The church with faithful generosity is a healthy church that is able to move forward in ministry.  The key to this heart of generosity is mature Christians.

2) Compassion: This is the heart behind the generosity that gives to countries ravaged by tsunami’s and earthquakes.  It’s the passion that leads a person to sponsor an orphan in Myanmar.  The greater then need, the greater the compassion, the greater the generosity, but when needs are invisible or less heart-grabbing, the generosity fire dies.  The church with compassionate generosity is a merciful church that gives sacrificially when people are hurting.  The key to this heart of generosity is a great need.

3) Vision: This is the heart behind entrepreneurial generosity.  It’s the intrigue of a new thing.  In fact a bit of risk is preferred to new risk.  You often hear the phrase, “People give to vision.”  I don’t think it’s true of everyone, but it is true of some.  When vision is the passion that drives generosity, you find churches that expand the Kingdom in leaps rather than incremental steps.  The greater the vision, the greater the generosity.  The key to this heart of generosity is a good vision-casting leader.

4) Desire for Reward: I hesitate to lift one generosity motivator above another.  Each of these four hearts of generosity are of value.  Probably to some extent each of these motivations should have some bearing on our generosity.  But…  whether the “desire for reward” is a higher level of generosity or not, it is certainly a less prevalent motivator.  In fact in some cases, some church cultures, we would go so far as to say that it is the less mature heart that desires reward in return for generosity.  If we give, in hopes of getting something back, then our giving is less worthy — or at least that’s what we have been taught.

This isn’t Biblical.  God wants us to give, because we desire His reward.  God wants us to be motivated in our generosity by his generosity.  In fact I can show you time and time and time again, that God promises reward for our generosity.  I offer you the possibility that faith in God’s promise to reward us for our generosity is the missing element in churches that long to break-through to astonishing generosity.

Before a company called Enron went bankrupt — morally and financially — two people named Dan and Lynn took out a second mortgage in order to invest all we could in Enron stock.  For a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here — I thought Enron was a sure thing.  A no brainer.  A return on investment that I couldn’t afford to pass up.  So we traded our equity for stock…and we lost our equity.

The Bible says that generosity is a sure thing, an investment that we can’t afford to pass up.  But how many of us are doing everything we can to free up more money for an “investment” in generosity?

So which is your main generosity motivator?  Faithfulness? Compassion? Vision? Desire for Reward?

More on this one later…