A healthy lake has at a minimum two things: a flow of good water coming into it from a stream or river as well as a flow of water out of it, also in the form of a river or a brook. Without both of those, a lake dries up or becomes stagnant.

Likewise, something similar is true of us when it comes to generosity. God wants His people to be generous. In other words, there should be an outflow of generosity from those who are God’s children. The Lord regularly reminds His people of that throughout Scripture. For example, the Israelites were told to be generous lenders and givers (Deut. 15:8, 10). Proverbs has a reminder, “He who is generous will be blessed…” (Prov. 22:9). Timothy instructed the church “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:18). “Generous” should describe Christians the way that “white” describes snow or “beautiful” describes Yosemite. Anything less is a distorted image of what it means to be a Christ-follower.

The only way to have that outflow of generosity, however, is to have it result from an inflowing of God’s generosity toward us. All good and healthy traits find their source in God Himself. We let His essence, His being, flow through us to others. This is true of generosity as well. Generous acts don’t begin with us. God is the initiator of all good things, generosity included. We are the recipients. We pass along what we receive from Him. That’s how the writer of 1 Chronicles reflected on the exhortations to generosity:

“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You” (1 Chronicles 29:14).

While generosity includes the use of monetary resources, it can be more—being generous with words of encouragement, the gift of time or simply the gift of presence. All of us can be generous, even if the bank account is low.

While Old Testament saints were able to be generous because of the Lord’s generosity toward them, those of us who are New Covenant believers have even greater evidence of the lavishness of God’s generous nature in the person of Jesus, the One who left the riches of heaven to come in poverty, that we who are poor might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).

That said, here are some generosity ‘inflow’ and ‘outflow’ questions to prayerfully consider:

  1. How much would generosity be considered a distinguishing characteristic in your life? To whatever extent it may be lacking to some degree, prayerfully ask the Lord to help you see why that is.
  2. How frequently do you recognize, and think about, the ways that God is lavishly generous to you? How frequently do you intentionally look for ways that God is generous with you?
  3. To whom can you practice generosity this holiday season?