As you make your way through the Bible, you discover a God both gracious and compassionate. As we choose to follow him, he beckons us to follow his example and be kind and open-hearted.
Here are 20 verses that give us a glimpse into the generosity that God wants us to share:
1. Leviticus 25:35–37, Giving to those in need
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
God commanded the Israelites to be generous and merciful to each other. Your brother’s need was not to be capitalized on for personal gain. If you loaned money to a fellow Israelite, you were not to charge interest.
Because the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, and therefore recipients of God’s generosity, they were to show impartial generosity to each other.
2. Deuteronomy 15:7–8, Giving sufficiently
If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Here we see a sentiment similar to the one we saw in Leviticus, but God widens its scope. If you know of a brother in need in any of the towns in your land, you are to lend him whatever he lacks.
3. Psalm 41:1–3, God’s promise to the generous
Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.
The Psalmist kicks off Psalm 41 by acknowledging the covenant that exists between God and the generous. God responds to the kindness and generosity of his people with protection, health, and abundance. As we’ll see in a bit, this is to enable them to be even more generous.
4. Psalm 119:36, Eschewing selfishness
Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
The key to living a life of generosity is in having a heart that delights in the Lord. When we find our purpose and joy in conforming to Christ’s image, we shed the inclination to indulge in materialistic fantasies and desires.
5. Proverbs 11:24–25, Your generosity defines your experience
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
and one who waters will himself be watered.
This passage communicates a principle sewn into the fabric of God’s world. The more you grasp and hoard, the more you need. Those who give freely and generously find that they’re happier, healthier, and experience more blessings.
6. Proverbs 19:17, Lending to the Lord
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed.
Can you imagine being in the Lord’s debt? How much more would you give to the poor if you knew that God himself planned to pay you back? True, altruistic generosity requires a certain amount of faith.
7. Proverbs 21:13, Maintaining generous ears
Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself call out and not be answered.
It’s interesting that God attaches intention to not responding to the needs of the poor. No matter what justification we might fabricate to excuse ourselves, the Lord calls it a willful “closing of our ears.”
In the same way that we lend to the Lord by giving to the poor, we withhold from the Lord when we respond selfishly to need—that gets repaid as well.
8. Proverbs 22:9, Expecting the Lord’s generosity
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
for he shares his bread with the poor.
Many people live from deficit, believing that there’s only so much to go around—and if you don’t get yours, someone else will. It’s nearly impossible to see the world that way and be a generous person.
However, if you live with a “bountiful eye” that sees the world ruled by a magnanimous God who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), you’re more apt to be open-handed with the resources you have, because you know that God will repay you.
9. Matthew 6:19–21, Investing in future treasure
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In keeping with some of these Old Testament passages, Jesus challenges us with a choice: accumulate stuff here (which ultimately has no value), or use it in such a generous way that we’re investing it in the coming Kingdom.
When we are generous with the things that come through our life, we are actually sending it ahead, and we’ll be compensated by God.
The beauty in this passage is found in Jesus’ promise that as we invest our resources in God’s Kingdom, our heart will also be pulled in that direction. If you ever find yourself praying that God would awaken a desire in your heart for Kingdom things, try practicing generosity for a couple months.
10. Matthew 10:42, God keeps track of our giving
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Again we see a relationship between how we treat the needy and vulnerable around us and our future reward. The Lord is keeping pretty intricate accounts and doesn’t even neglect to record water given in his name.
11. Luke 6:37–38, Having a generous spirit
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
Generosity comes in more forms than commerce. To withhold judgment, condemnation, and unforgiveness is to act generously, and, in God’s economy, it is rewarded with the same kind of benevolence—pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
12. Luke 21:1–4, Jesus’ enthusiasm about generosity
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
True generosity doesn’t come from our excess; it comes from sacrificial hearts. The beauty of this passage is in Jesus’ enthusiasm to point out this woman’s magnanimity out to the disciples. To think that God gets this excited when we’re openhanded is pretty inspiring.
13. John 3:16, Love gives. Period.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Is it any wonder that the Bible verse that most explicitly expresses the beauty of the gift we have received in Christ Jesus would also communicate something about God’s gracious generosity? Because God loved the world, he gave. Love blossoms into generosity—always.
14. Acts 20:32–35, Set a generous example
And now I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my needs and for those who were with me. In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Paul’s visit with the Ephesians ends with these words. He wants to leave them an example to follow. The pattern he wants to impart is one of hard work and sacrifice because he wants them to understand the virtue of generous living.
15. 2 Corinthians 8:12–15, Giving shouldn’t be a burden
For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
The generosity that we’re called to isn’t intended to be a burden. It’s intended to create a culture of equitability.
16. 2 Corinthians 9:6–8, God doesn’t want to coerce generosity
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
God’s ultimate desire is that we would give happily. He doesn’t want us to have to give out of obligation or coercion. He wants to bless his children. Not so that we can live in complete comfort and luxury, but so that we can be even more generous—abounding in every good work.
17. Galatians 6:2, Fulfilling the law of Christ
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
What is the law of Christ? Love the Lord with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And it’s fulfilled by bearing one another’s burdens.
18. 1 John 2:5–6, Following Christ’s example
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Paul encourages us to examine ourselves to see whether we’re in the faith (Cor. 13:5). One important way we do that is by taking stock in whether our lives are beginning to take on the self-sacrificial and cruciform nature of Jesus. We’ll give of ourselves and our resources.
19. 1 John 3:16–18, Giving like Christ
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Our generosity should model our savior’s selflessness. He gave his life for us, so we are called to be willing to do the same. It isn’t enough to talk about our love; it needs to be expressed in concrete examples of generous sacrifice.
20. 1 Timothy 6:17–19, Being rich in good works and generosity
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
God richly provides everything for our enjoyment. It isn’t his desire to withhold or diminish our pleasure. In fact, he wants us to experience true pleasure. He wants us to experience the joy of being rich in goodness and generosity. Once again, Paul echoes the sentiment so prevalent throughout the scriptures: our benevolence now is an investment in eternity.
Who would turn that down?
It’s obvious that being conformed to the image of Christ includes emulating his sacrificial, giving nature. We should be using our own generosity as a gauge for our own spiritual health. How open are we to give? How sacrificially?
The beauty is that in Christ’s promise “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” (Rev. 20:12) As Scripture reminds us constantly, this will include checking his meticulous accounts of our generous giving.
If you’re curious about the biblical practice of tithing, you can learn about it in 20 Bible Verses about Tithing.