The Superiority of Generosity by Dr. Zenet Maramara
Seven Reasons Why Generosity Wins Over Materialism
Scripture provides God’s perspective on generosity and greed.
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
~ Luke 12:15
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
~ 1 Timothy 6:8-10
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
~ Hebrews 13:5
Materialism, characterized by an intense desire for and preoccupation with material possessions to attain happiness and security, paradoxically deprives us of authentic joy. We consume, accumulate, and even hoard to feel good, but that brings only fleeting happiness, and we want more. While the Scriptures tell us to find contentment in basic necessities such as food and clothing, consumerism manifests covetousness and greed.
Generosity as a Cure for Materialism
Generosity is a powerful antidote to materialism, providing a transformative change in perspective that can be liberating, bringing about true freedom and joy. Embracing a light-hearted approach towards worldly possessions and directing attention towards eternal values yields rewarding outcomes.
Here are seven reasons why generosity wins!
1. Shift from Acquisition to Contribution
Materialism centers around accumulating possessions to pursue happiness and fulfillment, marked by an incessant craving for more and a persistent sense of insufficiency. Generosity encourages a shift in focus from personal acquisition to contributing to the well-being of others.
2. Fosters Contentment
Materialism, stemming from a sense of perpetual dissatisfaction, is often driven by an insatiable pursuit of possessions. Generosity cultivates contentment by emphasizing the joy and fulfillment of giving, fostering a mindset of sufficiency, trust, and dependence on God.
3. Building Meaningful Relationships
Materialism can lead to isolation as individuals prioritize possessions over relationships. Generosity strengthens social relationships by fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness through shared experiences of giving and receiving.
4. Provides a Sense of Purpose
Materialism lacks intrinsic meaning, as pursuing material wealth alone does not fulfill deeper human needs. Generosity offers a meaningful purpose by contributing to the well-being of others, providing a sense of fulfillment and obedience to God’s commands.
5. Counteracts Self-Centeredness
Materialism tends to reinforce self-centered attitudes and behaviors. The relentless pursuit of material possessions fosters a mindset where individual success is measured by accumulating wealth and belongings, overshadowing the importance of the greater good of the people. Generosity encourages a shift towards others-centeredness and caring for what God cares about, such as the poor, the widow, and the fatherless.
6. Promote Gratitude
Materialism often leads to a sense of entitlement and ingratitude for what one already possesses. Generosity cultivates gratitude by prompting individuals to appreciate their blessings and share with less fortunate people.
7. Emphasizes Stewardship
Materialism regards possessions as a final goal, often neglecting the responsible stewardship of resources entrusted by God. Being generous encourages stewardship, recognizing that everything belongs to God and is to be used by his will and purposes.
In conclusion, cultivating generosity as a lifestyle can combat the chains of materialism imprisoning people. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy to prevent us from living the abundant life (John 10:10). Jesus came that we may have life and enjoy it fully. We can begin by surrendering everything to God and embracing generosity as a whole-life discipleship. As the draft Generosity Declaration affirms *:
Generosity is whole-life discipleship. It is not limited to money and possessions. Instead, it is an outflow of a life fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our relationship to God, our self, our neighbor, and the creation are gifts from God that we steward for Him. Our vision for making disciples of all nations must include this surrendered, selfless stewardship.
- The WEA Global Generosity Network will publish the Generosity Declaration in time for the Lausanne Congress in September 2024.
Dr. Zenet Maramara is the founder and president of the Christian Stewardship Association, Philippines. CSA multiples faithful and generous stewards by promoting biblical stewardship, giving, and generosity. She serves as chair of the Global Trust Partners. She was a professor of biblical stewardship at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manila.
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