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The Great Paradox of Generosity (And Why It’s So Hard to Believe)

by Jason on April 26, 2011

In my time with God this morning I read through Philippians and came across a great passage about generosity that I wanted to share.

Sometimes I view giving as something I give up (money, time, possessions) rather than something I gain (joy, treasure in heaven, satisfaction).   Can you relate to that?

Now don’t get me wrong, our motivation for giving shouldn’t be the gain.  Our motivation should come from the Gospel – the fact that Christ gave up everything for us so that we might gain all the riches of heaven (2 Cor. 8:9).

Here’s what Paul says to the Philippian church about their generosity:

As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.  Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.  I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 

At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 4:15-18, NLT)

Generosity is a Sacrifice That Pleases God

There’s no question that in order to be generous, we usually have to give something up.  We do make sacrifices.  We do say no to new cars, or bigger homes, or expensive jewelry in order to give away more money.

But God is pleased.  It’s a beautiful aroma to our Heavenly Father.  Paul describes the Philippian’s generosity as a sweet-smelling sacrifice.

Generosity Leads to Reward

Paul is praising the Philippian church, not because he wants more gifts (he tells them he’s all set), but rather because he wants them to be rewarded.

When Paul says I want you to receive a reward, he is using a business term to say, “I want you to receive a profit that accrues to your account”.  You should be rewarded by God for the way you have been so generous to me.

I don’t know about you, but I’m blown away by that!  Even though we sacrfice to give to others, we are given a reward in return.

Generous People Won’t Outgive God

Paul tells the Philippian church not to worry about their needs because God will meet them.  God met Paul’s needs through the Philippian’s generosity.  The Philippians received the joy of giving.  Now their needs will be met as well.

And there’s the paradox.  It would seem like the more we sacrifice, the worse off we’d be.  After all, we are giving up money that we could use on other things.

And yet the reality is that the more we give, the more reward we receive.  The more we sacrifice, the more God will meet our every need because He has an endless supply!  It’s from His glorious riches that all our needs are met!

Hard to Believe, Isn’t It?

It seems unlikely that the more you give, the more your needs will be met.  Or that the more you sacrifice, the more you receive in return.  In our human, finite minds it seems so backwards.  And yet, this is how God works!

We live in a sea of stinginess, so let this be an encouragment to stretch yourself in radical generosity for God’s kingdom as He graciously meets all your needs and gives you joy in the process!

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