The ability to live a generous life has nothing to do with an income level. Paul gives this testimony about the church in Macedonia:
While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. (2 Cor. 8:2)
When I was growing up I had no idea how “little” my parents really had because they were always so incredibly generous. If they came on someone who had a need, they would share out of what they had in their home. Over the years they housed and fed whole families. They were in the TV and appliance business and Dad was constantly giving away his services in repair and installation to people who needed it. They lived with incredible generosity.
I remember one delivery my dad made when I was in high school. A man had purchased a TV antenna. (They used to have those things, and they went on the outside of the house.) Dad had delivered it to him, but the man had said he would install it himself and save the installation charge.
We delivered the antenna and my dad started asking a few key questions to get an idea of how much this guy really knew so he would successfully install the antenna. I was a teenager and thinking only of getting out of there and back to the warm store, but I knew as Dad was asking this guy questions, the man had no clue as to what was needed to put up the antenna. I also knew what was next: Dad was going to come back to the truck, get his tools, and put the thing up for the guy… no charge.
He would hire guys to help him out at the store who just needed the work.
They would give of their resources and time to churches. Whole buildings went up with my dad’s skills. They have lived with incredible generosity. And they are not wealthy in any worldly sense of the word.
They are immensely rich spiritually. I am so immensely rich spiritually because of the heritage they have passed along to me.
I don’t need a huge income to live generously. I can take my meager skills and give them in places that may not “compensate” me in the way I could get in some other place. I want to give my best to people no matter their lot in life because I want to live generously.
It’s amazing what Paul says about adversity and generosity. It was hard times that drove the Macedonian church to generosity. This I can testify about my own church. In a current economic climate where churches are seriously challenged for resources, I have watched my congregation struggle through those same tough times and STILL give beyond what I can believe. We have taken up amazing offerings for people, supported MORE missionaries, and watched the hand of God take us through some deep valleys. There is a sense of joy and awe in the midst of the hard time.
I don’t have to believe my bank account to live generously. For that, I am so deeply thankful!