God’s Generosity in Times of Scarcity
Bible Study #19
Knowing God’s Ways #2
Generosity is on Vacation?
The generosity of God can be a difficult concept for us to understand as we look through the lens of our human experience. It can seem, all too often, to us nowadays that ‘generosity’ has gone on vacation and left the office empty. So that when we call, there’s no one there!
That may be because it’s easy for us to see our relationship with God as, “I’m over here and God is over there, somewhere”.
With that viewpoint we may think, “If God were to be generous to me, that’s about the same as me giving to a stranger or someone I hardly know”. And how much would I be willing to give to a stranger? Not that much probably. So, I don’t really expect that much from God either.
Our View of God’s Generosity.
This is an important point, if we see life as us here and God over there, that completely filters our view and understanding of God’s generosity and abundance. However, if we could understand that God doesn’t see our lives or His generosity from our point of view. I believe He sees it more from a different standpoint that his generosity is in reality, giving to himself. After all He is the creator, supplier and giver of every good and perfect gift. James 1:17
As Paul in the book of Acts explained to the people of Athens about God: Act 17:28 (CEV) For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring.
Paul is saying that everything that is ‘our life’, is part of and comes from God (see Psalm 24:1, 1Timothy 6:17, Colossians 1:16). So, God doesn’t have to give anything ‘away’, he’s just moving stuff around to where He pleases, as it’s all His stuff anyway! So, we cannot compare God’s generosity with our human ‘generosity’.
If we think of it more in the following way: (The Devil actually used this expression when conversing with God about Job, the Old Testament character). If we are giving to ourselves essentially there’s no limit on our generosity”, as the Bible says in Job 2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. (Or as a newer version (CEV) puts it: Job 2:4 Satan answered, "There's no pain like your own. People will do anything to stay alive”).
People will do anything to stay alive, in other words, there is no limit to our generosity and what we will do to benefit ourselves. It may be hard to grasp but that’s more in line with the way that God looks at us and our situation.
If we view God’s generosity more as God being good to Himself, we will begin to see the real picture.
Pictures of God’s Generosity
Throughout the Bible narrative, God’s generosity is on display. Here are a couple of examples:
God’s supply of manna and quail for the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness in a time of scarcity. (Found in Exodus 16:1-21). Here are some very interesting observations about that part of Israel’s history.)
Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes after the people follow him to a desert a place of scarcity. (Matthew 14:13-20).
In his first public miracle, when the wine had run out at the height of a wedding party, in this place of scarcity, Jesus turned water into wine! (John 2:1-11)
But why don’t I see supply like that?
God’s generosity can be stifled however, not by God, but by our own wrong attitudes. The Gospels tell us that Jesus went about everywhere healing and supplying people’s needs (Acts 10:38).
There was one common factor though in every case, faith was involved. And when faith wasn’t there, Jesus was hampered in acting because of that. Matthew 13:58 And because the people did not have any faith, Jesus did not work many miracles there.
God’s supply is constant (Philippians 4:19), human attitudes and faith however are not. And that affects and changes our reality, whether that’s on an individual level or on a societal basis. In some ways you could say that God’s supply and generosity is like the pressured water that comes to everyone’s house through the water mains. We are like the individual taps (faucets) in each house that controls how much water is actually available for our use!
Sadly, nowadays the world around us constantly talks about limited resources and dwindling supplies. Turning the tap down and limiting its use. That’s the cause of much erroneous policy making, such as climate panic. Is God really going to allow the earth to overheat? Population control and even suspected population reduction efforts to 500 million, as has been reported by some.
Could it be that what is dwindling is not the supply, but faith? At the end of a parable about God’s protection and supply is this verse: Luke 18:8 He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith? (See commentary)
Jesus is saying here that the main issue is faith, which among other things is a belief in God’s goodness and benevolence towards us.
If the principal problem is a lack of faith, what can we do about that? The remedy given us in the Bible for lack of faith is straightforward: Romans 10:17 No one can have faith without hearing the message about Christ.
Here is a further explanation of faith and what it is.
As a conclusion to this study on God’s Generosity, please remember what Paul said to his young follower Timothy, in regard to reading, learning and receiving God’s word about faith: 2Timothy 2:15 Do your best to win God's approval as a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.
As we reach the end of this study, I pray that receiving it will enhance your faith for God’s generosity both to you and those around you!