Proverbs 11:25 makes this bold statement about generosity, "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." The King James translation of the Bible uses words in ways we no longer use them.
What the translators refer to as being "watered," other translations call being "refreshed." Where KJV uses "liberal" others would say "generous."
Regardless of which Bible translation one prefers, the truth remains the same — generous people experience multiplied blessings returning to them in various ways.
I am a beneficiary of a generous person. In 1997, Connie and I felt led of the Lord to leave the rural west Kentucky Baptist church I was serving as pastor and move to Louisville to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
While we did have a clear and unmistakable call from God, we did not have the money needed to pursue graduate studies in theological education. In fact, we arrived in Louisville with our first-born daughter, one car, our household belongings and enough money to cover food and lodging for about three months.
My friend, Keith, heard there was a financial need. He started sending monthly checks to meet what we lacked for my school costs — which was almost everything. Keith, and his wife, Connie, ended up paying nearly 100 percent of the tuition and book costs for not only my master's degree, but then later a doctor of ministry degree from the same school. Keith was not only generous to us, but has made a life-long habit of using his financial resources to help many people in a time of need.
Here are some lessons I learned from generous people like Keith:
First, use your resources for a kingdom investment. Keith understands that his ability to earn money is itself a gift from God and he uses that gift to make a financial investment in God's kingdom.
Second, let your giving follow your passion. I have heard Keith say that there are two primary targets for kingdom financial investment, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Some invest in buildings and institutions while others invest in people. Keith has chosen to invest financially in people.
Third, set aside money to give beyond your tithe. Many Christians believe in the practice of tithing on their income to their local church. Generous people like Keith have decided to give financially above the tithe.
Fourth, trust God to supply your needs. Keith has seen lean years and abundant years in his line of work. What he has not seen is God forsaking his generosity. The Lord continues to bless Keith as he has been a blessing to others.
Fifth, wait until heaven to see the fruit. I heard a well-known pastor say that God shows us enough fruit from our ministry to keep us interested. This side of heaven we will never see the full extent of our investments of time, talent and treasure. Generous people will undoubtedly experience noticeable fruit during their lifetime, but immeasurably more will be seen on the other side of this life.
Many in our churches are struggling financially right now. The financial implications of a pandemic are being felt by many Kentucky Baptists. My prayer is that, in the days ahead, the Lord will show many of us how we can use what God has given to be a blessing to others. As we do, we will each discover that God blesses generosity.
Todd Gray is executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.