Generosity is an Act of Trust


Have you ever found yourself thinking if you just had a little more in your savings account, then you would feel secure? Or if you had a certain amount in your retirement account, then all of your concerns would vanish?

You’re not alone.

Though the American dollar reads, “In God We Trust,” many Americans have greater faith in the green paper it’s printed on.

Most people would rather feel they are in control of their situation. We’d all like to believe we can handle whatever life throws our way.

This significantly affects the way we handle our finances. We often view money as the solution to our problems and our protection against the unforeseen. We lean on money for comfort, security, peace, and sustenance.

And because we’ve placed our hope in our financial security, like the rich, young ruler we’re reluctant to part with any of our resources.

In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul tells Timothy to communicate a message to those who are considered rich in his church.

As you read verses 17 and 18, focus on what Paul says about trust:

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. - 1 Timothy 6:17-18 (NLT)

Money is untrustworthy and unreliable. If you put your trust in money, you will find your feelings of security fluctuating with the stock market. When the market’s up, you feel good. When the market drops, so do your spirits. That’s a terrible way to live.

I have met many people who seem to think that a certain level of income or money in the bank will eliminate all their concerns. But when they get that increased paycheck or achieve their savings goal, their concerns do not subside. They may even get bigger, because now there’s more to lose. So they continue their pursuit of an even bigger paycheck or even more money in the bank. It is a brutal, disappointing, and never-ending cycle. 

The goal posts shift. Enough is never enough. The human heart never has its fill.

Giving is not about providing for God’s needs. He already owns everything. He’s not waiting for your financial gifts so he can finally move forward with his plans. He can and will move forward regardless of your generosity.

Giving is ultimately for your benefit. It is an act of trust. It is a visible demonstration of your reliance on God’s provision and promises. God uses giving to mold your heart into a heart that trusts him more.

Giving says to God, “I trust you more than I trust myself or money.”

Giving causes you to lean into God. Hoarding pulls you away from him. Giving demonstrates that your reliance on God. Hoarding demonstrates self-reliance.

God’s Promises

Throughout the Bible, when God tells us to trust him with our financial resources, there is often a promise tied to our act of trust.

What promises and provisions are we trusting when we give generously to God? We’re trusting that he will provide, that he will multiply, that he will enrich.

God Promises that He Will Provide

Malachi 3:10 is one of the better-known verses on generosity.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

Typically, this verse is used to demonstrate the importance of proportional giving—that is, giving according to what God has given us. And while proportional giving is important, we sometimes miss the second half of the verse, which includes a significant promise.

God doesn’t tell us to give and then just leave us hanging. No, he ties a promise to our generosity. He promises to pour out an abundance of blessings on us. And he tells us to test him in this, to give him the opportunity to show that he will make good on his promise.

Let me repeat that: God tells us to test his promise. That’s incredible.

Does this mean that giving generously to the church will finally get you that red Lamborghini you’ve dreamed of? Does it mean you’ll have more than enough in your retirement account? Does it even mean you will get the pay increase you desire?

Not necessarily. We don’t see the widow with the two coins at the Temple treasury in Luke 21:1-3 suddenly become a gazillionaire. We don’t see the poor but generous Macedonians in 2 Corinthians driving brand new, gold-plated chariots.

God’s blessings can be financial and material. But they can also be spiritual. Maybe God gives you the contentment you have been chasing for years, the same contentment you once sought from money. Maybe God shows you how to become part of something far more significant than your own momentary life on earth.

Can God provide material needs? Of course. And he often does. As Jesus said,

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? - Matthew 6:26(NLT) 

God often provides something that resonates more deeply within our souls. This book is ultimately not about money or generosity. It’s about your heart. God wants your heart to reflect his heart. And your heart wants to reflect God’s heart. God uses financial generosity to satisfy that longing.

“Test me,” God says. “I will provide. I will bless.” 

But it takes trust.

God Promises He Will Multiply

In John 6:1-15, Jesus and his disciples are watching a crowd that has been following Jesus. Jesus asks Philip, one of his disciples, where they can buy bread to feed everyone, for the crowd had not eaten in a while. Philip points out the obvious impossibility of providing everyone with bread.

Can you relate to the boy the disciples find with the five loaves and two fish? You look at your meager resources and wonder what God could ever do with them in the face of such a great need. What difference can your generosity make?

A big difference, it turns out, because our God is a multiplying God.

When the boy generously gives up his food, Jesus takes the meal, blesses it, and begins to break it into pieces.

And the breaking doesn’t stop. Jesus keeps multiplying the bread and fish until everyone in the crowd has eaten their fill. Even then, there are twelve baskets full of leftovers.

Or, what about the widow and Elijah in 1 Kings 17:7-16?

A drought has struck the land, and Elijah finds himself by a dried-up brook. God tells Elijah to travel to Zarephath, near Sidon, where he will meet a widow who will provide him with food. Elijah does as he’s told and locates the widow whom God has mentioned. When Elijah asks for some water and bread, the widow reveals her dire situation.

I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die. - 1 Kings 17:12 (NLT)

Elijah encourages her not to fear but to trust in God’s provision—first preparing food for Elijah and then for herself and her son. That was an uncomfortable request. He was asking her to sacrifice her final meal. Yet, the widow does as Elijah requested. She provides him with water and bread before making bread for herself and her son.

And God multiplies her faithful offering.

Though the widow assumes this will be the last meal she and her son will consume, God has a different outcome in mind. The jar of flour and the jug of oil do not run empty. God continues to fill both containers with the necessary means to bake more bread—not just for that meal, but for the duration of the drought.

God promises multiplication when we trust him. Second Corinthians 9:10 says, “God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.”

God will take whatever you give and multiply your resources to accomplish his purposes. That is a promise from God.

But it takes trust.

God Promises He Will Enrich

You probably enjoy getting a good return on your investments (ROI). You put your money where you hope its value will increase, and you pull your money from investments that decrease in value.

You like a good ROI. I like a good ROI. And so does God.

Therefore, God promises to enrich those who give. In 2 Corinthians 9:11, Paul writes to those who trust God with their money: Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous (NLT).

We find a similar promise in Proverbs 11:25: The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (NLT).

And we see this promise again in the parable of the servants, when the master takes silver from the servant who did nothing and gives it to the servant who most greatly multiplied his resources.

God wants a good ROI. Therefore, he enriches those who trust him and give generously.

God does not enrich the generous so that can have bigger homes, faster cars, and more exotic vacations. He enriches them so that they can always be generous (2 Corinthians 9:11).

God gives so that we can give. He blesses so that we can bless others.

God is looking for conduits of generosity, channels through which his blessings can flow. He is looking for men and women whom he can enrich so that others may be blessed.

Do you want God to enrich you? I cannot tell you how God will enrich you. But here’s what I do know—He has promised to do this.

But it takes trust.

Generosity Is an Act of Trust

Generosity shifts our hearts from reliance on ourselves and money to reliance on God. Generous giving visibly demonstrates our trust in God and his promises to provide.

If you are a Christian, you have already trusted God with your soul. It’s time that you trusted him with your money.

Are you ready to take the leap? Are you ready to experience what God wants for you, the thrill that accompanies open-handed living? It is time to get off the ledge and take the plunge. Don’t worry—you can trust God.

This is an excerpt from Art Rainer's book, Money in the Light of Eternity.