The Genius of Generosity
The Bible teaches us that generosity is the gateway to intimacy with God as we steward the Owner’s resources to please Him. In The Genius of Generosity, pastor and author Chip Ingram provides motivation and practical application from Scripture to help each of us grow towards a life of greater giving.
The Genius of Generosity is pragmatic. It takes from biblical and extra-biblical examples to make a powerful case for Jesus’ words from Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Chip Ingram, the founder, teaching pastor and CEO of Living on the Edge radio ministry, doesn’t come from some supernatural position of largesse. He freely admits how becoming a generous person was something he once considered something only for the noble few, or those with a discretionary income eating holes in their pockets. And then he shows the reader how generosity became a joyful adventure for him, and how it can become one for all of us too.
He recounts how he came to this revelation, as a young pastor who had an encounter with John Saville, a wealthy head of a Dallas accountant firm. He was a young and inexperienced pastor of a small church, and Saville was a fairly new Christian and chairman of the church’s elder board. He and Saville made a “secret pact,” in which Saville gave the pastor a checkbook, filled the discretionary fund account with $5,000 and then sent the pastor out to distribute it to hurting and needy people as the pastor thought best. Periodically, they would meet over an expensive lunch — Saville’s treat — to celebrate the results.
The arrangement taught Ingram accountability, and painted for him a picture of the steward-Master relationship we as Christians share with God. It wasn’t guilt-driven or legalistic. It was celebrational, and that opened Ingram’s eyes to how much sense it makes, whether Christian or not, to be a generous person.
Some of the jewels in this easy-to-read-in-one-sitting literary work include:
— “God measures generosity not by the size of the gift but by the size of the sacrifice.”
— “Where your money goes, your heart flows.”
— “True generosity doesn’t stop with possessions. It starts with them.”
Conversely, Ingram shows how hoarding money and making wealth-maintenance a high priority only leads to misery. He quoted John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and John Jacob Astor — famous wealthy people all — and cited the case of Hetty Green, who was once called the “Witch of Wall Street,” and a hall of fame miser. In short, he concluded, “A stingy heart ends up empty.”
Even though in a capitalist country like the United States, we tend to think of generosity exclusively in financial terms, Ingram makes it clear that giving money is but a starting point. It represents the “training wheels” of generosity. Ultimately, generosity is about giving of one’s self — your time, your labor, or anything else that might require sacrifice. We give because God has shown us it is one of the best expressions of our love, and that there is no greater demonstration of that than to lay down our lives, priorities and resources for our neighbors.