The Stewardship of Generosity
Never has there been a time that I have been more conscious of the presence spoken of in Hebrews regarding that great cloud of witnesses. With it has been the awareness of potent, penetrating prayer amassing from every corner of the globe. It’s the context for a great mobilization and with the mobilization, the restoration of the maturity, power and the gifts evidenced in the early Church. Of those gifts, I’d like to unwrap one that is often shrouded or put on back-burner, but represents ties to unlocking so many other gifts, not to speak of its power to fuel community. I’m speaking of generosity.
Generosity is one of those subtle things. You’ll miss its significance, if not alert and paying attention. Or ignore its importance maybe because it can seem like a duty or be hindered by the subtleties of materialism. But it’s a glue that adheres with an influence that bleeds into so many other spiritual dimensions for both individuals and the community.
To better understand the gift of generosity, we need a better grasp of “righteousness.” One of the more profound insights from the Jewish roots to the faith comes from the Hebrew translation of the word “righteousness.’ “The Hebrew word is tz’dakah. Correctly translated, tz’dakah actually means righteous charity or charitable righteousness. It is a community dynamic with the implication that on the first order of things that righteousness is derived from helping others, especially the less fortunate. Around the world, synagogues contain a “tz’dakah” offering box, a proactive means of generosity for the less fortunate.
The book of Deuteronomy warns against being stingy and taking responsibility in looking out for and helping those who may have a need. The principle of gleaning for example. When harvesting crops, gleaning insures that something is left for the less fortunate, who follow the harvester to “glean” for themselves.
Long before the Torah was given, Abram returned from his rescue of Lot and the defeat of Chedorlaomer …. and with the blessing of the high priest Melkizadek in defeating his enemies, Abram gave him a tenth of the spoils. So generosity has a direct tie to sharing from increase, from God’s blessing with His hand upon us.
Proverbs punctuates the responsibility and benefits in business between righteousness and generosity.
“The lips of the righteous feed many. The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10: 21-22.
Jesus summed up these truths when He admonished us to: “Give and it will be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken over.” And then Paul’s wisdom: “As you sow, so shall you reap.”
Reflecting the Fruits of the Spirit
God’s character is to create and bring multiplication, but his nature is in giving. In seeking His blessing, is it not his benevolence and generosity? In being reflectors of God, who are made in His image, the character of the godly takes on dimensions or fruits of His nature defined by Paul to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Church tradition identifies 12 fruits of the spirit, incorporating generosity and charity into the 9 that Paul described. So, in the same way that the character of the godly is shaped and defined by tz’dakah, that is charitable righteousness, it reflects the impact in attitude and behavior that these fruits of the Spirit have on them.
The Deeper Dimensions of the Gifts
Yet, with these fruits comes deeper dimensions, or what Paul defines as specific gifts that shape the personality and motivations of the individual believer in the way they think, behave and relate to others. These are outlined in 1 Corinthians 12:28: servers, prophetic, givers, teachers, exhorters, mercy and leaders. In most cases, a believer will have a dominant gift and a secondary one. In some cases, the dominant gift can be a balanced combination of two. How each operates is described on my web-site at www.strategic-initiatives.org/spiritual-gifts.
The Gift of Giving
In taking a closer look at the stewardship of generosity, it is insightful to begin by examining the gift of the Spirit of the Giver. Givers are ones who sense God’s heart where needs are concerned. Combined with their other gifts, Givers break the mold of the status quo. They tend toward being creative or leaders and sometimes both; which ties into their response to fixing situations that are due to the lack of resources. Givers can be very effective entrepreneurs and more frequently are. In many instances, they will take great joy in giving without the need for credit. Yet in others, simple appreciation is important to them.
Givers represent the gold-standard in terms of generosity within the community. Incorporated in the gift of giving is a high-level of faith and trust in God. But with their level of faith will be risk, but risk calculated with wisdom.
“The generous soul will be made rich and he waters will himself be watered.” Prov 10:25
Those with a genuine gift of giving are almost always recognized by the higher ratios of their income that they give. They more typically prove to be good planners, as they envision things as they potentially could be. Without drawing attention to themselves, they are strongly inclined in assuming responsibility.
The Gift Activated by Individuals
With the gift of giving or generosity, comes an added dimension. It taps into the very heart of God to create and bring increase. Because of that, simultaneously, it represents something of a trigger in terms of its activation of the nature of God for the individual giver. The Psalmist captures this means of activating God’s nature with the words: “With the faithful, You will show Yourself faithful. With the blameless man, You will show Yourself blameless. With the pure, You will show Yourself pure. With the devious, You will show Yourself shrewd. For you will save the humble people, but bring down haughty looks. For You will light my lamp, the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” Ps 18:25-28
The Parallel When the Fruit Flows in Community
So it can be, and far more, when the fruit and stewardship of generosity is operating strongly within the community.
In much the same way that we need a more complete grasp of the word “righteousness,” so we also need a broader mind-set regarding our part in and response to community. Indeed it begins and includes our interactions and responsibilities with our local congregation.
Activating Community Identity
But the reality is that the community of the household of faith is a cultural factor that should define and support not only our faith, but our character, priorities and prayer-focus. It is a cultural factor that in today’s world carries global ramifications. It should be the defining factor in terms of our identity, along with an overriding influence in our life-purpose. It should be the defining factor in those we choose as our inner circle.
With those thoughts in mind, let us reach for the standard expressed in Hebrews:
“Therefore we must give more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” Hebrews 2:1
The Litmus Test of Community Maturity
The stewardship of generosity within the community represents a strong litmus test of its spiritual maturity. While many are guided by the rigors of religious practices, the prophet Isaiah, called for a higher standard.
In the same manner, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (Matt 23:23) for their fetish in following the rules, while missing their intent, using as an example their adherence to the tithe while totally missing the more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness.
Isaiah’s higher standard in the 58th chapter taps this same truth. It captures what can move the heart of God when the tz’daka is exercised in the community. He begins with a rebuke targeting leaders who set the standard in the community, those engaging in religious practices to curry God’s favor, while being blind to their intent …. for example, in exploiting their hired labor; for their inclination for strife and debate.
He reveals that to make your voice heard on High begins with humility. It requires getting beyond the blind spots to address loosing the bonds of wickedness, undoing the heavy burdens, breaking every yoke and letting the oppressed go free.
It will involve sharing your bread with the hungry, reaching out to the hungry, poor and afflicted; clothing the naked and not hiding yourself from your own flesh and blood. It is ridding yourself of pointing the finger in scorn and bad-mouthing. In other words, it gives focus to taking on the benevolence of God in being a genuine blessing by reaching out as a giver.
The response from on High in doing so is dramatic. It not only addresses untenable circumstances …. “then your light will dawn in the darkness and the darkness will be as noonday” …. but it incorporates an unusual ability, through community that will bear on how you are recognized as a people …. “You shall build tho old waste places, raising the foundations of many generations. You will be called the repairers of the breach, the restorers of streets to dwell in.”
In short, Isaiah’s admonition was to grasp God’s perspective and respond as He would …. with compassion, holiness and respect for one another and the sacredness of His Sabbath.
Community Stewardship and Generosity
In a world divided, deceived and confused, there exists those who are searching for a people who demonstrate the reality of God in their midst. This demonstration of God manifests strongly through community stewardship. Stewardship operates on both an individual and a community-level. It employs three key elements: giving, managing and bringing increase. Recognizing God as your source, in simple terms it begins with the giving or sowing of your seed, then managing its growth, to then again in faith looking to God to bring the increase …. giving, managing and bringing increase.
So it has been, that the biblical strategy to affliction, oppression and poverty is the community standard of righteous charity, tz’dakah combined with small business development. Jewish tradition holds that the highest form of tz’dakah is to help someone start a business. There are Jewish communities in Israel with such networks of tz’dakah that virtually no one is homeless or hungry.
Such is the stewardship of generosity, that can be found within community that the world seeks.
On an even higher scale, Joseph the Patriarch was a forerunner of recovery when the household of faith had become spiritually blinded from the standard of tz’dakah and the mantle of his people to the world. Using the resources entrusted to him, Joseph became the gifted administrator of one of the biggest series of tz’dakah benevolence and rescues outlined in Scripture.
In passing into this current season, as the community of the household of faith progresses into the place of maturity, the recovery of this dynamic of tz’dakah and the stewardship of giving will be in great evidence as leaders set the example and the gates open for a free-flow of the Spirit’s power. Not unlike the days of the early Church, it will deeply penetrate and impact cultures around the earth. There was a reason the prophet Zecharish envisioned a time when ten men would plead with a Jew to take them with him because they had seen God operating in his midst.
Paralleling the spiritual backlash experienced by the early Church, all this will be within the context of the disruptions, turmoil and conflict described by Daniel, Jesus and John the Revelator. Yet,at the forefront of this movement will be modern-day Josephs and Daniels restoring community standards and influencing state-level leaders in this mobilization of resources. Of significance in this great awakening will be the response and alliances of key global segments of this movement with Israel. Bearing the fulfillment of Isaiah 60 with the abundance of the seas and the wealth of the Gentiles being directed to the Light manifesting in the Land of Promise.
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Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner of the Joseph-calling and God’s economy message, being an international voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation, the Strategic Intercession Global Network [SIGN] and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick’s messages equip leaders and economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.