Generosity is its own prize

Published 10:15 pm Friday, September 21, 2012

By Chris Surber

If you are stingy with the little that you have, you will not become generous, even if you become rich. The amassing of wealth doesn’t inherently make or allow one to become generous. Liberality in giving has a great deal more to do with what is in one’s heart than what is in one’s bank account.

Consider the generosity of my 2-year-old daughter. She is cute as a button, with a heart more fruitful than a fine vineyard. A couple of days ago, I was lying on the floor in the playroom with my children. The boys and I wrestled around a bit, while the baby drooled and cooed and laughed.

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Meanwhile, my 2-year-old daughter rather daintily placed every sticker in a large sticker book all over my shirt, while saying “Daddy need dat sticker. Daddy need dat sticker and dat sticker…”

This little girl absolutely covered my shirt in these stickers, though just a few minutes previously she was thrilled that her grandmother had given them to her.

She loves stickers. She loves them so much that her greatest prize was to give them away to decorate me. She got nothing in return, except the joy of adorning something she loves. The love of her big heart burst out of her little body in the form of giving.

Greed is a form of bondage. Gluttony is a kind of torment. Few hearts know greater torment than those enslaved to getting.

I wonder if your experience is similar to mine. While we often characterize wealthy people as greedy, I know a great many more people of moderate income who are selfish with what they have. They give little of their relative bounty.

Just as love is the only cure for hate, generosity is the key to unlock the shackles of self-indulgence. Generosity is its own prize, because when we give materially to meet the earthly needs of others, we get back from God the delight that comes in being like our Heavenly Father, who showers us with blessings. We are never more like God than when we are giving.

The act of giving is an extension of love. When we forgive someone a wrong we are giving forbearance. When we share of our means, be they large or small, we are giving as a symbol of the love that we have for God, from God, and for others.

“Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7 NET)

There is an old English proverb that says “The hand that gives, gathers.” When we give generously, we gather the favor of men, the favor of God, and freedom from the shackles of addiction to the things of this world.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at