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  • Cultivating Generosity

    By Peter Amsterdam

    Audio length: 10:45
    Download Audio (9.8MB)

    If we develop the attitude that the accumulation of wealth and possessions is necessary to our happiness, and that becomes our focus, we begin to give our material goods first place in our lives instead of God, who rightly deserves it. Paul called covetousness idolatry, because it takes the place in our heart that belongs to God alone (Colossians 3:5).

    Money and possessions are not evil in themselves. The eighth commandment, “you shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15), and the tenth, which tells us not to covet what belongs to our neighbor (Exodus 20:17), both indicate that private property is sanctioned. However, when we place undue importance on material things, our desire for possessions and money becomes our priority, which Jesus clearly warned against:

    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. … No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:19–21, 24).

    When our possessions or the inordinate desire for more occupy first place in our heart, when our happiness hinges on material things, we need God’s help to reverse course, so we can focus on how He has already blessed us. We may want to ask ourselves, “Have I set my mind on earthly instead of heavenly things? Do I trust in finances for security instead of God’s love and promises? Do I have an inordinate desire for money and material things?” It helps to remind ourselves that everything we have ultimately belongs to God and is His gift to us, and that He is generous.

    By cultivating generosity, we focus on storing up treasure in heaven (Luke 18:22). It also helps to remember that life is short and when we die we leave behind all of our possessions, status, titles, and wealth. Neither our material possessions nor our status will ever fully satisfy us, as true satisfaction is found only in God. Jesus, when offered the kingdoms of the world and all of its wealth, rejected the offer, as He had no intention of turning away from what was most valuable—loving and serving His Father (Matthew 4:8–10).

    When we think of God in the context of generosity, we realize just how extravagant His giving is. We see His generosity in giving His Son to die for us so that we can experience forgiveness and eternal life. He gives us salvation as a gift: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

    He is generous with His grace: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7–8).

    We also see God’s generosity every day in the world around us, in the natural beauty of creation, the magnificent colors, beautiful sunsets, the melody of a bird’s chirping, and so much more. And then there’s heaven: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

    When we understand that God is generous by nature, that all He has given us is both valuable and undeserved, then in our desire to be like Him, we too should be generous with others.

    Another key to generosity is having the right understanding of ownership—recognizing that as the creator of all things, ultimately God owns everything, and what He has entrusted to us is under our stewardship (Job 41:11). Even though we may earn the money to purchase things, it’s the Lord who ultimately gives us our life, abilities, and everything we have, which enables us to do what we do. This concept can be seen in Deuteronomy 8:10, where the Israelites were instructed to thank God for the food that they grew, as God was the one who gave them the land, the means by which they were able to grow food. Though they worked to produce the food, God provided the means.

    When we accept that we are stewards of what God has blessed us with and that He is the ultimate example of generosity, we’ll want to align our attitude about giving with His. Let’s look at some of what Scripture tells us about God’s outlook on giving.

    Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed (Proverbs 19:17). 

    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 (Luke 6:38).

    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).

    We must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

    Many of us don’t have much money, but giving isn’t limited to money. We can generously use our God-given abilities, time, talents, gifts, as well as finances when we have them, to help others. While we don’t all have the same amount of material goods or time to spare, we all can find ways to sacrificially carve out some time for the benefit of others. We each have some God-given gifts, talents, and abilities to offer, so we might want to consider giving some of them back to Him through using them to help others in some way.

    As the stewards of all He has given us, when we use our gifts, talents, skills, and finances in alignment with God’s generosity, we honor Him. While giving of our time or our finances or our God-given gifts or skills can be a sacrifice, Scripture teaches that those who make this sacrifice are rewarded in this life and the life to come. “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” (1 Timothy 6:18–19).

    Of course, some people are able to give more than others, as they have more. The blessings for those who give aren’t connected to the amount they give. Jesus made this point when He “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’” (Luke 21:1–4).

    Developing generosity calls us to believe that we are stewards of our material belongings—not owners—and that we are expected to be good stewards of what is entrusted into our care. As stewards, we are to look to the Lord for His direction regarding how to use what He’s blessed us with. This means asking Him how He wants us to use what we have for His glory.

    We can find much of that direction in Scripture. We know we are to provide for our family (1 Timothy 5:8), to do what we can to help those in need, to give to the Lord, to live within our means, to be content, and to be prayerful. We’re to trust God to provide for us and to thank Him whether we are abased or abounding (Philippians 4:12).

    When we are thankful to the Lord, it shows Him that we recognize His goodness and faithfulness to provide and care for us. It tells Him that we know that we are totally dependent on Him, and that all that we have comes from His hand. When we are grateful to Him, we acknowledge His majesty, His generosity, His love and His care for us.

    When writing the Colossians about some of the fundamentals of living their faith, Paul included thankfulness: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6–7).

    Gratitude is an integral part of our walk with God. Sadly, we sometimes don’t acknowledge and thank God for our blessings. It’s easy to get used to our blessings, or even to not consider God’s hand in them. We must put in the effort to make ourselves much more aware of the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives by developing the habit of recognizing our blessings, both big and small, and regularly praising and thanking Him for them; “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

    Originally published January 2017. Adapted and republished October 2023. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.

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  • Sep 15 Learning About God’s Mercy
  • Sep 13 Trusting Through the Silence
  • Sep 12 A Life Well Lived, Today and for the Future
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Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • The Book of Galatians: Chapter 3 (verses 1–14)

    In Galatians chapter 2, having written that he had been crucified with Christ and that Christ lived within him, Paul stated that he lived by faith in the Son of God. He then moved on to chapter 3.

    O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.1

    Paul scolded the Galatians for their foolishness. They were close to denying the gospel. Paul didn’t call them “brothers” like he had earlier (1:11), but rather addressed them abruptly so as to take them to task and remind them of their responsibility to the truth they had been taught.

    The Galatians had lost sight of the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Their focus on circumcision and the law diminished the importance of the cross.

    Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?2

    Here, and in the upcoming verses, Paul asks several questions which he hopes will bring the Galatian believers back to reality so that they won’t turn away from the gospel. Paul says that he desires to learn only one thing from them. Did they receive the Spirit through keeping the law or through trust in Christ?

    When someone becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit is poured into their heart. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.3 Those who belong to Christ have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.4 It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.5

    Since the Gentile believers had the Spirit of God, circumcision was not required. Likewise, since they had the Spirit, they were Christians and belonged to the people of God; therefore circumcision and following the law were not necessary.

    Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?6

    Paul questions whether the Galatians have compounded their foolishness by starting in the Spirit and finishing by works. They thought they could improve on relying wholly upon the Spirit. They were attracted to being “perfected by the flesh.” The word “flesh” here likely alludes to circumcision, which involves cutting of the flesh.

    The Judaizers (Christians who taught that a combination of God’s grace and human effort was necessary) argued that it was necessary for the Galatians to be circumcised in order to belong to the people of God. Paul disagreed. He believed that the Galatians were Christians because they had been filled with the Spirit. To require them to be circumcised would make progress in the Christians’ lives dependent on efforts of the flesh instead of the Spirit.

    Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?7

    Suffering was a common part of Christians’ lives, and it’s likely that the Galatians experienced discrimination and verbal abuse due to their faith. Paul asks if the suffering they experienced was in vain, because if they had renounced the gospel of grace and accepted circumcision as a requirement to perfect their faith, then their suffering as Christians had no purpose.

    In verse 3, Paul assumes they are Christians, and laments the foolishness of trying to progress according to the flesh. However, now in verse 4, he considers the prospect of their accepting circumcision and concludes that if they do, they would have suffered in vain.

    Paul warns the Galatians about the dangers of succumbing to the tactics used by the Judaizers. He closes the verses with a hypothetical statement: if indeed they are in vain. He doesn’t say that the sufferings of the Galatians were in vain. Rather, he leaves them with a condition. If they follow the Judaizers and reject the truth of the gospel, then their suffering as new believers was for nothing. Paul’s hope is that warning them will cause them to reassess their position and repent, so that they will obtain the full reward.

    Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith…8

    The paragraph is now summed up with one last rhetorical question. The work of the Spirit has been seen among the Galatians. It may be that Paul described the impact of his ministry among them. The main point is that God had given them the Spirit, and the presence of the Spirit has been manifested among them. Since the Galatians have the Spirit, they are members of the people of God. They are members of the family of Abraham, so they no longer need to follow the Torah.

    just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?9

    Paul states that Abraham’s right standing with God was due to his trust in God. He makes the point that both Abraham and the Galatians exercised faith.

    The Judaizers probably appealed to Abraham and circumcision to support their view that circumcision was mandatory to become one of the people of God.10 After all, Abraham was the father of the Jewish people, the one to whom God's promises were made.

    Paul didn’t discount Abraham’s obedience.11 Rather, he put the focus on Abraham’s faith, which was the fundamental aspect of his life. He believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.12 In Genesis 15, Abraham thought that Eliezer, his servant, would be his only heir. The Lord promised him that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and Abraham believed what the Lord said; he trusted in Him. Genesis 15 ends with God Himself, symbolized by fire, passing through the pieces of the sacrificial animal, showing that the covenant would be fulfilled by the Lord alone. All of Genesis 15 focuses on God’s work and Abraham’s trust in God.

    Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.13

    Paul forcefully calls the Galatians to realize the truth that thus far has evaded them. What is necessary to be part of Abraham’s family, to be counted as his sons? Not circumcision or other works required by the law. Those who belong to Abraham’s family believe as Abraham did—for he lived before the law was given. Therefore it was faith that made him righteous before God. The Galatians, then, did not need to be circumcised to be Abraham’s sons. They were already his children if their faith was in Jesus. Paul emphasizes that it is faith and faith alone that makes one a child of Abraham.

    And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”14

    God promised Abraham that all people would be blessed through him. Paul makes the point that this blessing comes through the gospel, and that the Gentiles receive this blessing when they stand before God in their faith in Jesus.

    Paul’s quote from the Old Testament is a merging of two verses in Genesis, verses 12:3 and 18:18. Genesis 12:3 says: In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Genesis 18:18 states: All the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.

    By referring to “all nations,” Paul shows that it was God’s intention from the beginning to bless the Gentiles, as long as they had the same kind of faith as Abraham. They received the blessing of Abraham if they believed like him.

    So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.15

    The “so then” draws a conclusion from the previous verse (v. 8). Genesis 12:3 promises that all nations would be blessed in Abraham, and in Galatians 3:8 Paul says that this blessing becomes a reality when the Gentiles are justified by faith. He concludes that those who believe receive the same blessing that believing Abraham did.

    The Judaizers said that the Galatians had to be circumcised to become part of Abraham’s family and to receive the blessing of Abraham. However, verses 3:7 and 3:9 show that this is untrue. The Galatians became part of the family of Abraham when they believed as he did, and they enjoyed the blessing of Abraham when they believed like him.

    For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”16

    Paul asserts that Gentiles receive the blessing of Abraham in Christ. Conversely, those who rely on the Torah are cursed. He goes on to give the reason why those who hold to works of the law are cursed—they fail to keep all that the law requires. As it says in Deuteronomy: If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book … then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions.17 The Judaizers believed they could be right in God’s sight by means of the law, which is the heart of legalism. However, it is impossible to keep God’s law perfectly.

    Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”18

    Paul made the point that the curse of the law applied to those who try to be right before God by means of the law. He now gives a second argument from a different angle. He states that no one can obtain right standing before God by keeping the law. All are cursed by the law, because all have sinned.

    But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”19

    Paul explains further why no one can be righteous by the law. The law requires perfect obedience, and no one can achieve that. Faith, however, looks to what God has done through Christ for salvation, relying on God’s work rather than one’s own work. Paul is using three arguments (3:10–12) to explain why the law cannot save.

    Paul says that those who do what the law requires will live on the basis of their obedience. But no one can be righteous by the law, because the law requires perfection. Paul says that: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Obedience to the law is contrary to faith, since it is predicated on obeying instead of believing to have salvation; on performing what is required rather than trusting in Christ. Trying to be righteous by keeping the law is opposed to believing, to trusting what God has done through Christ.

    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”20

    The only way for the curse of the law to be removed is through the redemption of Christ. The curse of the law lies not only on the Jewish people, but includes all who look to the law for redemption. How can anyone be delivered from God’s curse, since everyone sins? Paul’s answer is that forgiveness comes through Jesus’ death on the cross. He liberates us from the curse which comes by the law.

    Christ didn’t suffer and die for His own sins; He died for the sake of others. Paul tells us that Christ took upon Himself the curse that sinners deserve. He stood in our place as He took our punishment. Christ is the only way by which the curse of the law can be removed.

    so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.21

    The promise of Genesis 12:3, that all nations would be blessed in Abraham, has become a reality in Jesus—not by circumcision or by following the Mosaic law. The blessing of Abraham belongs to those who believe in Christ (3:8–9). Conversely, God’s curse falls on those who rely on the law for justification (3:10–12). By His substitutionary death, Jesus removes the curse from the law for all those who believe. This includes the Gentiles who are included in the blessing of Abraham by trusting in Christ, rather than keeping the Torah.

    The second half of this verse speaks further on the promise of Abraham. The blessing of Abraham can be described as the promise of the Spirit, which would be the gift of the Spirit. Paul is likely alluding to Isaiah 44:3, which says: For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

    Paul maintains that the Gentiles who have received the Holy Spirit enjoy the blessing of Abraham. If they enjoy the blessing of Abraham, then they are members of his family. If they are part of Abraham’s family by receiving the Spirit, they don’t need to submit to circumcision or to the law to be part of the people of God.

    (To be continued.)


    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

    1 Galatians 3:1.

    2 Galatians 3:2.

    3 Romans 5:5.

    4 Romans 8:9.

    5 2 Corinthians 1:21–22.

    6 Galatians 3:3.

    7 Galatians 3:4.

    8 Galatians 3:5.

    9 Galatians 3:6.

    10 Genesis 17:9–14.

    11 Romans 4.

    12 Genesis 15:6.

    13 Galatians 3:7.

    14 Galatians 3:8.

    15 Galatians 3:9.

    16 Galatians 3:10.

    17 Deuteronomy 28:58–59.

    18 Galatians 3:11.

    19 Galatians 3:12.

    20 Galatians 3:13.

    21 Galatians 3:14.


  • Sep 19 God’s Kind Of Unity: An Unstoppable Force
  • Sep 12 The Book of Galatians: Chapter 2 (verses 11–21)
  • Aug 29 The Book of Galatians: Chapter 2 (verses 1–10)
  • Aug 1 The Book of Galatians: Chapter 1 (Verses 11–24)
  • Jul 18 The Book of Galatians: Introduction
  • Jun 20 2 Thessalonians: Chapter 3 (Part 2)
  • Jun 6 2 Thessalonians: Chapter 3 (Part 1)
  • May 23 2 Thessalonians: Chapter 2 (Part 2)
  • May 9 2 Thessalonians: Chapter 2 (Part 1)


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  • The primary goal of the Family International is to improve the quality of life of others by sharing the life-giving message of love, hope, and salvation found in God’s Word. We believe that God's love—applied on a practical level to our daily lives—is the key to resolving many of society's problems, even in the complex and fast-paced world of today. Through imparting the hope and guidance found in the Bible’s teachings, we believe that we can work toward building a better world—changing the world, one heart at a time.


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