What the Cross Reveals About Generosity

What the Cross Reveals About Generosity

In Matthew 27, we read how the unfathomable became reality. God had sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to the world. While on earth, He lived a sinless life, doing what no human could ever do on their own. Yet, He was condemned to die on a cross. In Matthew 27, we see Jesus, willingly hanging on a cross, knowing His sacrifice was the only way men and women could be forgiven of their sins and have a right relationship with God.

He took on the punishment we deserved. He stood in our place.

Christians cannot look at the cross without seeing radical generosity. The blood-stained wood reminds us of the greatest gift ever given. It shows us what genuine, biblical generosity looks like. What does the cross reveal about generosity? Here are five lessons we learn about biblical generosity:

1. Biblical generosity is not deserved.

There has never been, nor will there ever be, a human that deserved what we read about in Matthew 27. The Bible is very clear on this matter. In Romans 3:23, it says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV). Later in Romans 6:23, we read that what a person earns by sinning is death, eternal separation from God. Therefore, the only right we’ve earned is the right to die and be eternally separated from God. We deserve no grace. Grace, by its very nature, is undeserved.

And yet, we received grace. Heaping upon heaping of grace was lavishly given to us.

The cross reveals that biblical generosity is not deserved. As Christians, our generosity is not a quid pro quo act. We are not waiting for someone to prove they are worthy of our generosity. Earned generosity does not teach the gospel. But unearned generosity does. This does not neglect wisdom in giving but balances generosity that is both wise and full of grace. God did not wait on us to demonstrate our worthiness before He gave. He gave when we were unworthy. So should we.

Earned generosity does not teach the gospel. But unearned generosity does.

2. Biblical generosity should be a priority.

God did not give us His leftovers. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV). God gives us His one and only, His first and best. God leads us in the first fruits principle found in Proverbs 3:9 and throughout Scripture.

The cross reveals that biblical generosity should be a priority. For many Christians, generosity is about the leftovers, what takes place after all needs and some wants have been met. The cross shows us that the first action we take with our God-provided resources is to give. It is an act of trust in God’s provisions and promises. Many Christians practically express the first fruits principle by giving a portion of their pre-tax income. Generosity occurs before bills are paid and needs are covered. God made giving a priority and so should we.

3. Biblical generosity is sacrificial.

A sacrifice occurs when something that is both desirable and beneficial is given up. Jesus’ sacrifice was not only astonishing because He was unjustly executed. Jesus’ sacrifice was astonishing because He took on the wrath of God for all sins—past, present, and future. It is an act truly unfathomable to the human mind.

The cross reveals that biblical generosity is sacrificial. Biblical giving is not meant to be comfortable. Sacrifice is not convenient or comfortable. Sacrifice hurts. When we sacrificially give, we are saying “no” to one thing so we can say “yes” to something we deem to have greater worth. The pain is worth the outcome. When we give, there should be a real sense of sacrifice present. Prayerfully, we ask God, not “How much should we give?” but “How much should we keep?”

Sacrifice is not convenient or comfortable. Sacrifice hurts… The pain is worth the outcome.

4. Biblical generosity reflects God’s generosity.

James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV). God is a generous God, and throughout Scripture we see God’s generosity on full display. God’s generosity is no more evident than when He sent His Son to earth as our sacrificial lamb.

The cross reveals that biblical generosity reflects God’s generosity. As Christians, we are generous because He is generous. When we live with open hands, generously giving as God leads us to do, we reflect His generosity to those around us. We become conduits through which His generosity flows. And through that generosity, doors are opened to proclaim His name and advance His Kingdom.

5. Biblical generosity impacts eternity.

The generous, sacrificial gift of God’s one and only Son made an astounding, eternal impact. The gift crushed the serpent and tore the veil that stood between God and man. Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection is still breaking the chains of addiction, restoring marriages, bringing prodigal sons home, and, most importantly, blotting out the sins of man and restoring the broken relationship between God and humans. All of eternity has been changed.

The cross reveals that biblical generosity impacts eternity. When we give, we get to be a part of something much larger than ourselves. God uses our gifts to make a difference, not just in the present, but for all eternity as well. God can use our gifts to be a part of His work of transforming hearts. Individuals may hear about and put their faith in Christ because we chose to live with open hands. What an incredible honor. What an amazing adventure.

 

The cross reveals much to us. The sacrifice of Jesus demonstrates what real, biblical generosity looks like. It is our lead. The cross is what guides us on our generosity journey. We learn from it and follow it so that others may follow Him as well.

Art Rainer
Art Rainer

Art Rainer is the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He writes and speaks widely about issues related to finance, wealth, and generosity, and is the author of The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money. Art lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.

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