Summary: God anticipates that His people will be generous. His generosity toward us is to be reflected in our generosity toward others and toward His work.
“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.” 
I am certain that every Canadian is able to recite the biblical injunction prohibiting judging others—“Judge not, and you will not be judged.” Stung by an accusation, especially an accusation delivered by a brother or sister Christian, we fling those words out in a sort of unconscious self-defence mechanism. Even non-Christians are quick to recite this particular injunction whenever they believe they have been criticised.
I wish each Christian was equally familiar with the remainder of the verse and with the verse that follows. Though Jesus’ warning against harbouring a critical spirit are frequently misapplied, and though we would doubtless benefit study of His words on that occasion, I am not focusing on them today. I am focused on the remainder of this divine saying. The focus of the message is on generosity as a mark of stewardship for believers.
Seldom do we Christians approach the biblical ideal of a tithe in our giving. Stewardship has too often been a means by which we attempt to coerce others into doing our will. When a church does what we want, we support it—at least with a portion of our gifts. When the pastors are less responsive to our own views than we imagine they should be, we attempt to punish the congregation through withholding our generosity.
There is a biblical mandate that is neglected in this business of giving, and we will do well to remember what the Word of God says concerning giving. As children of the Living God, we are under obligation to see giving as an act of worship. In fact, the whole of our life should reflect the spirit of generosity demonstrated through giving. When we understand the relationship between honouring God and generosity with what we possess, we will also discover the reality of His gracious promise toward those who honour Him.
GOD ENCOURAGES GENEROSITY AMONG HIS PEOPLE — “Give, and it will be given to you.” The Word anticipates that a Christian will be generous with his life and with his goods. The child of God gives, not in order to be a child of God, but because he is already a child of God. Generosity reflects the character of the one who knows God. God is generous, and those who are born of Him will likewise be generous.
James testifies that God “gives generously to all without reproach” [JAMES 1:5]. Few of us consciously think to ask God to give sunshine or rain, though we may complain if there is too much rain or if we believe there is too much sunshine. We would be safe in assuming that those who do not believe God and who have nothing to do with worshipping Him would not consider asking Him to send sunshine or rain. Nevertheless, we are taught that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good.” We are taught that God also “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [MATTHEW 5:45]. The point is that God is generous and good, and His generosity toward us is not dependent upon how we treat Him.
His generous nature, which is synonymous with His mercy, sometimes creates confusion, even consternation, in the mind of believers. For instance, God does not immediately strike down the wicked, but instead He shows mercy and generosity toward sinners; and that generosity sometimes disappoints His people. Pondering life on one occasion, Asaph questioned God’s goodness. In the 73rd PSALM, Asaph wrote:
“Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
“For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.”
Asaph’s disappointment with God mirrors the disappointment of a wayward prophet who felt God’s goodness toward sinners was undeserved. God had dispatched Jonah to Nineveh to deliver a message of judgement. Jonah tried to disobey, only to be confronted by God. There followed a wild ride in a great fish, after which Jonah never again enjoyed fish and chips. Jonah did, however, choose to obey God—he grudgingly delivered the message of judgement, and his message brought about a great revival.
Unfortunately, revival was not what Jonah wanted to see! He wanted judgement. The Word tells us that God’s mercy to Nineveh “displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live’” [JONAH 4:1-3].