Everything on earth belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). The early Christians embodied this perspective by sacrificially sharing all they had, even selling their possessions to give to those in need (Acts 2:44-45).
But knowing that does not make practicing generosity (or even talking about money) any easier. The Old Testament is full of wisdom about being generous. Biblical figures regularly model what generosity looks like. But actually following Scripture’s model takes discipline and an intentional effort to live with open hands.
Thankfully, there are things we can do every day to help cultivate generosity in our lives.
1. Pray for local charities.
Prayer is powerful and takes an intentional sacrifice of time. Praying for charities reorients people to think of others and intercede on their behalf. It is valuable on its own, but building an externally focused prayer life also helps foster a sacrificial spirit.
Right now there are organizations that already serve the needs of people in your community. Pray for the work they are doing. You could focus on a different charity each day or each week. Pray for the volunteers and employees who sacrifice their time and energy for others. Pray for the people they are helping. Ask God to show you opportunities to help.
Learning about your local charities and what they are doing will expose you to unmet needs in your community and spark ideas about how you can help in more material ways.
2. Carry cash that you intend to give away.
Not having cash is one of the easiest ways to avoid being generous. And nowadays people are carrying less cash, less often. If being generous is important to you, why not plan for it? Decide how much money you could give away in a day, and look for opportunities to be generous. Pray for those opportunities too.
You might be inclined to reserve that cash for only the most worthy occasion to be generous—the people who are really in need. But as you continue seeking out opportunities and that cash starts burning a hole in your pocket, you may find that your grip on it loosens each day and that your threshold for generosity gets lower.
What if every time you pulled out your wallet or purse to make a purchase, you took a moment to remember that you are spending God’s money?
3. Remind yourself that you are spending God's money.
What if every time you pulled out your wallet or purse to make a purchase, you took a moment to remember that you are spending God’s money? This is not to make you feel guilty about your latte but to change the way you think about what God gives you (and allows you to keep).
When you have worked hard for every paycheck, it is easy to forget that God is really your provider. When we remind ourselves that it all belongs to Him, it challenges us to think about how we are using it and how we can share what He has given us with others.
4. Assume there is no one else to help.
It is easy to say no when a stranger—or even an acquaintance—asks for help. Maybe we really are busy. Or we assume there is someone else more qualified or someone they have a better relationship with. Maybe we even ask, “Is there anyone else?” or redirect them to other people.
But when you know you are someone’s best or last possible option, it gets a lot harder to say no. So what if you started by assuming you are the only option? You would probably say yes more often. It might mean changing (or even cancelling) your plans. But in a way, your plan each day is to be generous with your time.
5. Seek opportunities to loan out your possessions.
When you take good care of your things, it is easy to become overly protective of them. In fact, you can be tempted to feel like hoarding is a sign of good stewardship. But when you think about all of the tools, equipment, clothing, vehicles, and other possessions God has given you, they present nearly endless opportunities for you to be generous.
You can start with things like offering your truck to help someone with a heavy load or letting a neighbor borrow your lawn mower. Take inventory of things you are willing to loan out or use for other people, and look for ways to offer what you have.
Generosity’s effects reach well beyond a single act of compassion. Sharing your possessions can lead to meaningful relationships and create a true sense of community.
Start with your heart
Outward expressions of generosity come from our spiritual posture. Paul tells us that while generosity is important, God cares about our attitude when we give:
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
As you strive to become more generous, remember that it starts with your heart.
At CDF we believe generosity is an important piece of faithful stewardship. To uncover practical next steps, we’ve created a resource for how to determine which charities are worth supporting: