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Gospel Generosity

Gospel Generosity

There are certain categories of books that you can read once and never return to—you read a single title on that subject and it tells you all you ever need to know about it. But there are other categories of books that you need to return to on a regular basis. In my experience, that includes books on giving—on living a life marked by financial generosity. Over time I find my natural tendency is toward keeping rather than giving, toward saving rather than freely distributing. So I need to regularly read books that will interrupt my apathy and reaffirm what I know to be good and true.

A new book on the subject proved to be just what I needed. Nathan W. Harris’ Gospel Generosity: Giving As An Act of Grace is part of B&H’s “The Short Guide Series” and, as such, wastes little time in getting right to the heart of the matter. “This book is all about one thing—giving. More specifically, it’s about how the gospel calls Christians to a life of radical generosity.”

It’s important to address the word “radical.” There are some Christians who seem to be called by God to be especially extreme in their generosity, to earn heaps and give away almost all of it. Or to create great ministries and, by refusing to ever solicit donations, to display God as the provider. And as much as I honor such individuals, and as much as they might benefit from this book, I don’t see Harris asking us all to imitate them. Rather, the generosity he calls for is radical compared to our natural tendencies, radical compared to the financial principles of the people around us, radical compared to what might seem naturally intuitive, and radical even when compared to our spiritual forebears in the Old Testament.

Because your head and heart are converted, then even how you view your money changes. What once used to be yours is now for God’s use. As the pocketbook experiences conversion, its aim is to be used to glorify God. A converted life leads to converted thinking about money. A converted pocketbook does not heed the words of the world and fixate itself on saving, but sees its resources as a way to participate in the gospel’s call to generosity. The call to follow Christ means to commit your whole life without reservation or hesitation. Every aspect of your life is given sacrificially to God, which includes your money. Because of God’s mercy, and the new life we find in Christ, Christians should live out their holy call to generosity with joy.

Generosity, then, is an implication of the gospel and a calling of the gospel—a call we are all to heed whatever our means and whatever our circumstances.

As Harris progresses through his short book, he begins by telling how our obsession with money and possessions is an issue of heart, health, and service to God. It’s an issue that reveals the heart’s ultimate trust and loyalty, that serves as an indicator of spiritual health, and that proves who we mean to serve in this world—God or money.

Having shown this, Harris addresses the issue of tithing and does some careful biblical work to show how tithing is no longer a mandate upon Christians. Yet this does not free us from the obligation of giving 10 percent of our income as much as it frees us to give with even greater freedom and generosity. The coming of Jesus Christ and the inauguration of his kingdom completely transform the way we understand and practice our giving.

As the pocketbook experiences conversion, its aim is to be used to glorify God. A converted life leads to converted thinking about money.

Nathan W. Harris

The closing chapters consider how giving proclaims the gospel and portrays it to the world around us. As citizens of that kingdom, we are to be humble, selfless, and wholeheartedly committed to Christ’s call and this necessarily impacts the way we give, the quantity we give, and the freedom and joy with which we give it. We also give with a view to Christ’s return, allowing the guarantee of his second coming and eternity in his presence to motivate our generosity now. It allows us to be genuinely cheerful givers, whose joy is not grounded in what we have now, but in what Christ has promised.

“For Christians, generosity is more than just the way we give money, spend our time, and share our abilities with others. As we give, we get to be living examples of what Christ has done in our lives. Giving, above all else, is about the testimony of the gospel.” Giving, then, is a blessing not only for those who receive it, but for all of us who do it. We don’t have to give—we get to give! And as we give, we proclaim what Christ has done for us and proclaim our trust and confidence in him. What a joy then, and what an honor, that God calls us to this sacred task.

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