In the last year, I’ve been challenged to share the ways I am generous with others. I never considered the idea of talking about my generosity until someone asked me to share a generosity story to encourage others. The Lord calls us “to spur one another on toward love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24), but are we supposed to do that in the area of generosity? The mere thought of it makes me incredibly uncomfortable even as I write the words. Isn’t it boastful to talk about our own generosity? Before inserting my personal thoughts on this, let’s see what the Bible says.
Jesus addresses the idea of sharing our “good works” with others in the Sermon on the Mount. However, at first glance, Jesus’ words seem to contradict one another:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them”
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16)
So, which is it? Are we supposed to “let our light shine” or “beware of practicing our righteousness before others”? Let’s evaluate the intent of sharing our good works with others. In the passage that warns us of practicing our righteousness before others (Matthew 6:1-3), Jesus identifies our heart motivation as “to be seen and honored by men
” (Matthew 6:1). Whereas in Matthew 5:14-17, Jesus commands us to “let our lights shine” to give glory to God
! So what is your heart posture when you share about your generosity? Are you saying, “look at me
”, or rather, “look at God
”? The Lord encourages us to share our stories so long as we give glory to Him, not ourselves.
Practically speaking, it can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about our personal generosity even if our intent is to bring glory to our Father. So, here are three helpful points to consider as you begin sharing generosity stories:
- Before sharing a story, ask yourself, “am I conveying a message of ‘look at me’ or ‘look at God’?”
- Share about how God is working through you in generosity. What is He teaching you and revealing to you about who He is?
- Rather than focusing on your stories, share about how others are generous to you or how you see others being generous.
As you think about sharing generosity stories, may you approach the conversations in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 1:31 -- “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Written by Leslie Melby, Stewardship Associate for the Summit Stewardship and Generosity Ministry.
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