Cheerful Generosity

by Izzy Alvarez

God’s desire for us is to flourish in our cheerful giving and at Fellowship, cheerful giving isn’t just about money. God wants so much more for us. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. Paul makes it clear that our cheerful generosity has less to do with how much or what we give, but rather with what is in our hearts.

Cheerful generosity is a matter of the heart and it’s a form of investment. We’re investing in ourselves by obeying God’s Word but also in others. If generosity is a form of investment, what capital are we actually investing?

We believe there are five capitals we all have. As Christians we value them in this order:

1. Spiritual capital is the “spiritual equity” we have to invest. It's the most valuable of all the capitals, and it's measured in wisdom and power.

People were amazed at Jesus’ teaching, because it was filled with authority and wisdom. People were astonished at his miracles too because they expressed a degree of God’s power that they’d never seen before.

Jesus was rich in spiritual capital. It’s the resource that enabled him to carry out his mission-to open up the doors of the kingdom of God to everyone. Since spiritual capital is the most valuable asset one could have, we could say that Jesus was the wealthiest person ever to live.

2. Relational capital is the relational equity we've built up over time with others. It's measured in the quality and depth of relationship we have with our family, friends, and associates.

Our relational capital "accrues" and "pays dividends" in many ways. Studies have shown that people with more friends report higher levels of overall happiness and well-being. People with lots of relational capital tend to be healthier.

Jesus invested a lot of time to grow a tremendous amount of relational capital with his disciples.

3. Physical capital is the time and energy we have available to invest. It's measured in hours and minutes.

Physical capital is the time we make available for tasks, projects, and relationships, as well as the capacity we have to use that time.

Jesus shows us how to do this when he teaches his disciples how to rest and abide so they can bear fruit (John 15). He also is consistently encouraging them to get away from the crowds with him, so they can rest from their work. He knows their ability to invest their time and energy in the work of God is dependent on honoring their need for rest and rhythm.

4. Intellectual capital is the creativity and knowledge we have available to invest. It's measured in concepts and ideas.

This is worth more than financial capital because you can’t create ideas or creativity simply by spending a lot of money. However, you can make a lot of money from a great idea.
Jesus possessed an astonishing level of intellectual capital, which he used often in his mission.

He was recognized by the crowds, his disciples, and even his enemies as a rabbi, which means “teacher” or “master.”

It's important to recognize that Jesus wasn’t just a holy person who prayed a lot—he was also a smart person who thought a lot. As Dallas Willard said, “Jesus wasn’t just nice, he was brilliant!”

5. Financial capital is simply the money we have available to invest. It's measured in dollars and cents, pounds and pennies, etc.

We are most familiar with this one because we work with it every day. It’s not inherently good or bad. It’s simply a resource to invest.

Jesus pointed us to how we could turn money into an idol if we begin to rely on it for significance or security, but he also affirmed that it’s simply a form of capital that allows us to invest in other capitals that have more worth.

Now that we’re clear on the capitals we all possess, let’s get back to cheerful generosity.

When God calls us to be cheerfully generous it can be from any of the capitals we’ve discussed. It’s about more than money and God asks us to do all of it with a pure and cheerful heart.

Feeling impoverished can sometimes make us hesitant to be generous so it can be helpful to ask ourselves this question: have we been good stewards of our capital so that we can actually give?
No one, except maybe Jesus, was born a cheerful giver. I believe that cheerful generosity is a learned behavior.

Here are 10 ways we can practice cheerful giving.

1. Consider the benefits of generosity. - Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity produces a sense that we are capable of making a difference in the world, that we are actively addressing the needs of those around us, and that we are shaping our community into a healthier one.

2. Embrace gratitude. Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to be long. It won’t take much time. Sometimes the most important step you can take to become more generous is to spend more time thinking about what you already possess and less time thinking about what you don’t.

3. Start really small. Start by giving away a dollar or give an hour of serving somewhere. You don’t have to read the whole Bible in one year but maybe it’s a 3-year goal with just a few verses a day. Whatever you do just start!  

4. Give first. When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. Often times, we wait to see how much we have left over before we determine how much we can give away. What if we gave first in light of the 5 capitals?

5. Divert one specific expense. For a set period of time (it takes 29 days to form a habit) take money you would spend on Starbucks or eating out and use that to give away. This can be a form of fasting. Taking away one thing and replacing with another. This can work with most of the capitals.

6. Fund a cause based on your passions. What gets you excited? Is it missions work? Is it feeding the homeless? Is it working with teens? Spend time in those areas. Spend money investing in those areas. Be creative in those areas.

7. Spend time with people in need. When your heart breaks for something it’s easy to jump in and want to help. Spending time with people in need shows you a different reality and how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

8. Spend time with a generous person. Generosity is contagious. We’ve all heard the saying “you are who you hang out with”. Hang out with generous people and you’ll learn to be more generous.

9. Live a more minimalist life. Some of us do things in excess. We spend in excess. We excessively indulge in entertainment. What if we cut off some things in our lives that drain our capitals and use them as a way to be generous?

10. This is the most important tip. TALK TO GOD ABOUT IT!!! What is God saying to you about your capitals? What is God saying to you about your generosity? What is God saying to you? Always go to God first. Allow Him to identify what’s in your heart. Allow Him to identify how to be generous.
 
Cheerful generosity is not about how much we give, but about the posture of our hearts as we give. What are you willing to sacrifice with joy, for the sake of the Kingdom? How does God want to grow your cheerful generosity? I’m on this journey with you family.

God Bless,

Pastor Izzy

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