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“Kitna Deti Hai?” This adage reveals the general mindset of the average Indian when he walks into a car dealership. However, it also serves as a general principle for all of life. I wonder if this is one reason the giving in our churches tends to be lower. To those accustomed to thinking of giving in terms of results gained and returns on investments, giving to the local church to further Christ’s mission can appear unrewarding by earthly standards. Thus, I hope to highlight three things we can expect from our generosity in this article.
Yet first, we must approach generosity from God’s vantage point. Let’s reflect a little more on “Kitna Deti Hai?” The underlying question is, “What’s in it for me?”, revealing a man-centred approach to giving. It assumes a barter system where we gain some merit before God or applause from our friends for every rupee we give. Contrary to this mindset, the apostle Paul reminds Christians in 2 Corinthians 9:15 that our life is fuelled not by our merit but by God’s gift: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” This gift is the grace of God (2 Cor 9:14), whereby sinners have earned their wages for sin by being dead in sin are made alive together with Christ, and, having been forgiven of all their sins for all time, they are now being led in “triumphal procession” (2 Cor 2:14) amidst the defeated and shamed powers of darkness. All of this, God has achieved by love and has bestowed on us by his grace. We have gained nothing by merit—including the energy God supplies us to work and earn our livelihood.
Perhaps it is clear now that to approach generosity with the kitna-deti-hai mindset does not stem from the grace we have experienced but from the kingdom of darkness. However, as God is generous, he intends to make his people’s hearts generous. Thus, generosity concerns itself more with the posture of our hearts than the resources in our hands. Consequently, although we may not ask, “What’s in it for me?” the Lord says that he does indeed have something in it for us. Here are three ways God blesses us in our generosity. We will spend more time on the first point, which will set up the subsequent points more easily.
1. Reap Love
The Jerusalem church is struggling due to famine and poverty. Paul takes it upon himself to raise money for the struggling mother church from its Gentile children in Macedonia and Greece. The Corinthian church had pledged financial support. Paul encourages the Corinthian church to keep their pledge of support by assuring them that God will “increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). What does he mean?
This (seemingly) misplaced phrase would have immediately brought to their mind Hosea’s revelation. God’s people during Hosea’s time were famous for their wickedness. They had become like the nations around them and had installed altars for Baal in different locations for convenient worship. The false worship of their hearts resulted in abusing the blessings of Yahweh—God’s people corrupted the good gifts of human life and sexuality through engagement in human sacrifice and sexual deviance, including bodily mutilation. Simply put, God’s people used God’s resources for false worship.
As a result, Yahweh judged his people, saying that because they have sowed sin, “[they] have reaped injustice” (Hosea 10:13). But, if they “sow… righteousness, [then they will] reap steadfast love” (Hosea 10:12). Yahweh’s invitation back to fellowship with him is the only sure way that their hearts will be satisfied more deeply than any experience found in their worship of Baal. With a renewed heart, they can use God’s resources as a blessing for others and to glorify God with the result that they will “reap steadfast love.”
Is this karma in action, where God says we can earn God’s love through repentance? Surely not! These were God’s people whom he promised to save when they had sinned through Adam, when they were delivered through a flood, and carried through centuries of slavery in Egypt. God loved them, which is why they were God’s people. But they will experience more of God’s love when they turn from sin to the all-satisfying God. When their hearts turn to him from sin, no longer will they be under a thick cloud of darkness; they will once again experience the joy of their salvation. They will reap their experiential union with Yahweh when their hearts turn from sin and then use God’s resources to make God’s priorities their own.
Unlike God’s people during Hosea’s time, Paul says that God’s people in Corinth had evidenced repentant hearts willing to make God’s priorities their own and direct their financial resources to help their needy brothers and sisters. As a result, he prays that they will reap a greater experience of their union with Christ.
Simply put, repentant hearts that seek not their own kingdom but Christ’s kingdom, direct the resources entrusted to their care by God to the blessing of others. In doing so, they grow in their experiential union with Christ. Don’t you wish to grow in your experience of God’s love for you in Christ? Consider giving more generously to the mission of your church and others in need with a prayerfulness that God will satisfy you with his love for you in Christ.
2. Give More
Because they grow in their experiential union with Christ through generosity, they have made habit of wise giving so that they are constantly looking to give more to bless others. Spurgeon once said, “He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; the value of the blessings is doubled by the manner in which it is given.” Saints who have experienced more of God’s grace in Christ tend to display Christ-like generosity with their limited means. In fact, one may be surprised to see how lovers of money become generous givers when they become lovers of Christ. We will desire to give more as we see God take our generosity out of our limited means and bless it with his unlimited means.
2. Grateful Hearts
When generosity is directed to needs, the obvious result is that needs are met. We don’t need to overstate the obvious. But think about the kind of needs God has provided for you miraculously out of the generosity of others. Does it not swell our hearts with warm gratitude towards God? And, if you were anonymously blessed during a time of great need, does not your heart swell with even more gratitude? Is this not a reflection of the God who met us at the point of our greatest need in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us? The Jerusalem church was so grateful for the generosity of their fellow Gentile heirs in Christ, and their thankful hearts were resting in the gospel just a little bit more through the generosity of their brothers and sisters.
All of this is to the glory of God. The main aim of our lives, even in these results of giving, is God’s glory. A kitna-deti-hai mindset detracts us from glorifying God as it has our own aims and ambitions in focus. But, these three results of generosity, which God has for us to experience, only enable us to glorify and enjoy God. God is glorified when we grow in our experience of our union with Christ. God is glorified when we give more because our hearts seek to be generous like our generous God. God is glorified when hearts are thankful for needs met and gospel growth through our generosity.
So, my dear friends, as you consider growing in generosity, may this benediction be your experience: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).