9 Things to Know Before You Give Generously

Since Christians are saved by grace through the generous and undeserved gift of Jesus Christ, generosity is at the heart of Christianity. But how should we think about giving when there are so many opportunities and uncertainties involved? Here are some principles and practices from Proverbs that talk about this.

Principles

*Keep in mind that these are principles and not promises. Proverbs is like a helpful conversation with your Father, not a binding contract. 

1. Givers get, but withholders want. 

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
– Proverbs 11:24-25

Looking at this, you can think of yourself as God’s investor. If you invest well through generosity, God will give you more to invest. On the flip side, if you withhold and do not invest, God will withhold from you. (See also Matthew 25:14-30.)

2. Givers are adored, but withholders are hated. 

The people curse him who holds back grain, but a blessing is on the head of him who sells it.
– Proverbs 11:27

Many seek the favor of a generous man, and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
– Proverbs 19:6

It’s true that lottery winners gain friends. But the 99% hates the 1%.

3. Giving is about God. 

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
– Proverbs 14:31

Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
– Proverbs 17:5

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
– Proverbs 19:17

We cannot overstate how much God identifies with those in need. It’s the same way with me and my kids. No matter how respectful you are to me personally, if you mistreat my children, you have mistreated me. (See also Matthew 25:31-46.)

4. Giving is about your eyes. 

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
– Proverbs 22:9

A stingy man (man with an evil eye) hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
– Proverbs 28:22

My nephew once made a joke about “trailer park people” in the hearing of my mother. Now, my mother is a wise Christian and where many would have either laughed along or brushed it off, she stopped him and said, “There is nothing wrong with people who live in trailers. Many of them are hard working, salt-of-the-earth people.” She was not being a stick-in-the-mud. She was being wise.

Do you see people as carefully woven image-bearers? Or do you see people as punchlines? The way you see people determines whether you give or withhold.

Giving is about the way you see the world. So, what signals do your eyes transmit: “give, give, give” or “get, get, get?” (See also Matthew 6:19-24.)

Practices

1. Give willingly. 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
– Proverbs 3:27-28

Looking at these verses, we can see that the basic posture of a wise Christian is openhanded.

2. Give discerningly. 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is duewhen it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
– Proverbs 3:27-28

Think about to whom you are giving. Are they due? Most likely, the answer is yes. Because God made everyone, everyone is due good – especially the vulnerable (poor, widows, fatherless, immigrants, etc.), fellow Christians, biological family and the government (think taxes).

Despite all that, the Bible does say not to give to lazy brothers who refuse to work and widows who have family that ought to be taking care of them. Otherwise, we give. Basically, giving is the rule – withholding is the rare exception.

However, this doesn’t mean that all giving is equal. You can read When Helping Hurts, Toxic Charity and Generous Justice for some help discerning the best way to give. With this in mind, here’s a hint: handouts are rarely all that helpful. True help is much more ongoing and messy.

3. Give responsibly. 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
– Proverbs 3:27-28

Know what is in your power to give before you give. You may have no power to give financially due to debt or other responsibilities. In that case, find another way to help while you get your own finances in order.

4. Give promptly. 

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
– Proverbs 3:27-28

If you’re willing, the one in need is due and you have the power – give! Do it now! Right away!

5. Don’t take.

Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate, for the Lord will plead their cause and rob of life those who rob them.
– Proverbs 22:22-23

So in your dealings with people, your voting and your business practices, make sure you’re not trampling the rights of the poor.

Discussion Starters

  1. Have you found the principle in Proverbs 11:24-25 to be true in your experience? If so, can you share examples?
  2. How have the principles in Proverbs 11:26 and 19:6 held true in your experience? If so, can you share?
  3. How do Proverbs 14:31, 17:5 and 19:17 affect the way you look at people? Also, are there people you are tempted to mock that God might be calling you to help?
  4. Reading Matthew 6:19-24. In light of Proverbs 22:9 and 28:22, what does Jesus mean by what He says about the eyes?
  5. As you review the “Practices” together, what are some specific steps toward becoming more generous that God might be calling you to as individuals, as families, as a group, as a church?

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Isaac WalshEmmanuel Olawuyi Recent comment authors
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Emmanuel Olawuyi
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Emmanuel Olawuyi

I praise God for this site, it’s rich with spiritual and soul lifting articles. In fact, I am fortunate to be on this site. God will continue to bless Dulin’s Grove Church in Jesus’ name.

Isaac Walsh
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Thanks for sharing, Emmanuel! It’s always encouraging to know how the Lord is using this ministry to build up His Kingdom.