The Generous Life
Week 1: Proverbs 11:24-25
The greatest advances in science, art, and the rest of human culture have often come as a result of thinking differently. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). This is a different way to think! A life built on this kind of thinking – a generous life – is the subject of this next preaching series. This is not just about money although the Bible certainly has a lot to say about money. Generous living also impacts how we think about our relationships, our work, our words, and our calendar. God has hard-wired creation for generosity – sow a little seed; reap more at harvest. Sow a lot of seed; reap even more. The world of human relationships functions the same way. As we grow in generosity, God increases our capacity to manage even more resources. When we truly understand God’s generous heart toward us and the extent to which God controls the resources in our world, we will find the confidence and motivation to be generous with others. And in living generously we will be pleasantly surprised to find a life of greater abundance, security, joy, and growth.
Can you think of anyone you know who is extremely generous and extremely unhappy at the same time? Why do you think that this combination is so rare?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Proverbs 11:24) It seems paradoxical for the one who gives to grow richer and the one who withholds to become more needy. How can this possibly be true? What implicit principle about the source of wealth underlies this proverb? (See Deuteronomy 8:17-18a) What do we learn from this proverb about what God is looking for as he decides how to distribute his unlimited resources?
2. (Proverbs 11:25) Should we read this verse as a promise or as an observation about how God’s economy normally works? What concerns might hold someone back from living generously? How does the proverb present a different paradigm for living life? How is trust in God a vital part of living this way?
3. God blesses us so that we can bless others. And the act of blessing others itself brings new blessings to us and glory to God. This fundamental principle of generous living extends beyond just financial blessing and financial giving. How do the following passages illustrate this virtuous cycle of blessing in non-financial terms?
a. Genesis 12:1-3
b. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
c. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11
d. 1 Peter 3:9-12
1. Do you see your world as a place of scarcity or a place of plenty? How do you think God sees it? What parts of your thinking about the way the world works might he want to transform?
2. Are you willing to risk living the generous life? What holds you back from living the generous life to the fullest? How does God want to grow you in this area? What steps will you take?