A good test of agape love, “intelligently, intensely willing the best for another,”1 is generosity, giving away our best.
If someone asks, will we share our favorite fishing hole, recipe, or thrift store? These are things that just might lose their value if too many people find out. The fish may be depleted, our special dish will no longer be so special, and other people may purchase those bargains before we have a chance to look.
As a freelancer I once had another writer ask for contact information for one of my best paying markets for articles.
When the writer thanked me for my generosity, I realized it was not common to share such information. Truthfully, giving my resource was a backed-into-a-corner moment rather than an act of good will.
That is not the type of generosity I wish to have. Paul advises the Corinthians not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure but to decide in their heart how much to give. Why? Because God loves a cheerful giver. [2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT]
I want to be a cheerful giver, for that is agape. This type of giving requires an advance decision, deciding in my heart to be “open-handed” with gifts of “ample portion, marked by abundance.”2
Paul provides insight into how to become a generous, cheerful giver.
One-Recognize God is our provider. Everything we have is from God. “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.” 2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT
Two-As our provider He will increase our resources as we give. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—-pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 NLT
Three-This abundant return will “produce a great harvest of generosity” in us. Thus, we will be able to demonstrate agape love as a cheerful giver.
The discussion of generosity in 2 Corinthians is linked to a collection being taken for the believers in Jerusalem who need financial help. As Paul explains how to give a willing gift rather than giving grudgingly the benefits of generosity unfold. God’s love for the cheerful giver is shown in abundant provision. “You will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others,” he says. [2 Corinthians 9:8b NLT]
He explains that two good things happen because of generosity. The needs of the recipient are met, and they express thanks to God. Thus, God is glorified. We bring glory to God by being generous.
1-Can you remember a time when you were generous with money, time, or something else and you experienced this expansion? If so, share in the comments below.
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25 NLT
2-How does knowing that God is our provider help us to become a generous giver?
1-The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words by Terry L. Miethe published by Bethany House Publishers.
2-Merriam-Webster online dictionary at merriam-webster.com.