Encountering biblical generosity, whether in the lives of donors, leaders, missionaries, colleagues, or those we interact with daily is always a gift. Such generosity also prompts us to encourage others to be “rich towards God.”
This sentiment (regarding stewardship) is the theme of Dr. Wesley Willmer’s book, Revolution in Generosity (Moody Publishers, 2008). The late Chuck Colson penned in its foreword, “As we provided financial support and I became more aware of the significance of people giving from a ‘blessed heart,’ the more convinced I have become of the importance of transforming stewards to be rich toward God, as an expression of Christians conforming to the image of Christ.”
To encourage generosity in others, we should recall the approach King David took when he wanted to glorify God by building the Temple, as recorded in 2 Sam. 7 and 1 Chron. 28 and 29. God did not grant David his desire, but gave this honor to his son, Solomon. David embraced God’s plan and worked tirelessly to ensure that Solomon would have all he needed to build the Temple. He planned the project and provided the bulk of the resources required from his own wealth and Israel’s treasury. He then asked others to give with the results noted in 1 Chron. 29:9b, “...for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly.”
“To encourage generosity in others, we should recall the approach King David took.”
David knew that God would dwell in the Holy of Holies and that the Temple would be the preeminent site of sacred worship. It would also become the location of the sacrificial systems, established by God in the book of Exodus to help the Israelites recognize the principle of life for life and that there would be no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood (Lev. 17:11). The entire sacrificial system, especially the Day of Atonement detailed by Moses in Leviticus chapter 16 would point to the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ—the ultimate example of selfless love and unfathomable generosity.
Generosity then is the fruit of redemption in our lives and a reflection of our heavenly Father’s generosity to us through Christ.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In large part, the “good works” Paul refers to is our stewardship of all God has given us and drives us to be compassionate and willing to go the extra mile.
In our ministry, we invite our donors to send us prayer requests. By this, we are reminded of their sacrificial generosity. In spite of illnesses and concerns about children, parents, finances, friends and current affairs—these precious people still give to the Lord and to us from their hard-earned resources. When I contact supporters, I am mindful that I am entering into their world of joys and burdens, some of which I hope to ease.
One example of dispelling a donor’s burden occurred nearly a decade ago when, as a board member of my current organization, I visited with a lovely widow and long-time supporter. During my visit, she shared that her husband had served in World War II in one of the divisions that entered the Buchenwald concentration camp. During his deployment at the Camp, after the Jewish “prisoners” had been released, he found a tiny bone fragment in one of the rooms they inspected. He brought it back to the United States and to his home, where it remained for years.
Knowing that I serve a ministry that brings the gospel to Jewish people, this kindhearted lady asked me to help her fulfill a desire of her late husband—to bring the remains of a precious soul—possibly a child—to a place of rest. It so happened that I soon would be traveling to Israel, and I promised her I would take the bone fragment with me. One of my dear brothers in the Lord and I held a ceremony overlooking the city of Jerusalem and prayed for the family of the one whose life had ended so tragically in a death camp. As a final gift, I prepared a photo album of the trip for this supporter.
My actions brought closure and comfort to the heart of this faithful donor. We both understood that the Lord rewarded their generosity to our ministry and in serving others, both in this life and in the age to come.
Showing compassion and care to our ministry partners is one of the critical responsibilities for those charged with gathering resources for the work of the kingdom. God has given us a good work to do in bringing others to exercise generosity as sacrificial and Christ-centered worship.
Cindy Forbes is a former board member and now Director of Major Gifts and Planned Giving at Chosen People Ministries. Learn more at (chosenpeople.com). She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University and is a M.Div. student at the Charles L. Feinberg Center for Messianic Jewish Studies.