Generosity in Scarcity – Gospel in Life

Generosity in Scarcity

Tim Keller |  May 31, 2009

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  • Stewardship, Generosity and Money
Habakkuk 3
RS 313-04


How do you face economic scarcity? The little book of Habakkuk talks about how to handle evil times, and in particular, it describes an economic disaster.

Habakkuk’s answer for dealing with economic scarcity is fuller than you might think because he alludes to the Old Testament principle of the firstfruits, where you were supposed to give the firstfruits of your harvest to God. But here, Habakkuk brings up the possibility of having no harvest at all.

We’re going to learn three things about financial giving: 1) you should give sacrificially, not just out of surplus, 2) you should give joyfully, not just out of duty, and 3) you should give graciously.

Understanding Habakkuk 3:17–19 and Deuteronomy 26:1–11

The book of Habakkuk teaches us how to find joy, even when life gets tough and it feels like our prayers are falling on deaf ears. It tells a story of a really bad economy, which leads us to think about how we handle not having much, and the idea of firstfruits — giving to God before anything else, even when it’s hard. By looking at Deuteronomy 26 and Habakkuk 3:17-19, we can learn three important ways to think about giving.

1. Sacrificially

In Deuteronomy 26:2, we’re introduced to the idea of firstfruits. This means giving to God before we even know how much we’re going to make. It’s not about giving just what’s left over, but truly giving from the heart, and it might even mean changing our lifestyle. This is something we should aim to do all the time, always trying to give more than we think we can.

2. Joyfully

Giving should always be connected to the gospel and God’s love. We need to remember that everything we have is a gift from God. When we understand that everything we have and earn is because of God, giving becomes less of a chore and more of a joy. It shows our thankfulness for His love. If we’re not giving joyfully and sacrificially, it could mean we need to check our relationship with God.

3. Graciously

Habakkuk’s story is filled with troubles and danger, but it reminds us that our true joy and peace come from God, who is our ultimate hope. Jesus’ sacrifice shows us God’s amazing grace, which should inspire us to give with joy and sacrifice. This leads to freedom in both our spiritual and physical lives. Our goal should be to build a community that’s generous, able to give no matter what the situation.



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