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Building a Generous Marriage

Generous??? We had been homeless for nearly 10 months and during that time being generous seemed impossible. We lost 90% of our income overnight. We couldn’t afford to get into another place to live. A kind couple gave us the upstairs of their home to live in.

That was our story just a few years ago. How could we practice generosity? But looking back we can see how God not only provided for us in miraculous ways, he honored our efforts at being generous.

If things are tight for you, we get it. As a couple, you may be feeling the tension of how to handle the money God has entrusted to you. If so, we recommend our post on “Money Principles for Marriage” Part 1 and Part 2.

What we display when we’re generous

The heart of generosity is found in God’s initiative toward us with his Son, Jesus. Jesus described it saying, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16). When we are generous, we are showing the presence of Jesus in our life and in our marriage.

God promises that, “Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely…” (Psalm 112:5). The apostle Paul expressed to the Christians in Corinth, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way…” (2 Corinthians 9:11a).

Generosity certainly includes money, but it goes beyond finances. We are generous with our time. We are generous when we serve someone in need.  Giving away things we don’t need is a measure of generosity. Orchestrating efforts to meet others’ needs can show generosity.

Here are four areas where you and your spouse can practice generosity:

1. To each other

Start with what you might do to serve your spouse. Are there chores or projects that they dislike that you could do for them? If they love back rubs or foot rubs, could you take some time to bless them with that?

You might purchase something for them that simply shows you’re thinking of them. It doesn’t have to be big, either. For example, when Heidi goes to the grocery she’ll sometimes come back with Brad’s favorite gum. Or during the Christmas season Brad will buy several candy canes filled with Hershey-ettes (think M & Ms) for $1 each and surprise her with them through the year.

2. To your family

We love to send our adult children $10 gift cards for coffee or Chick-fil-A. It’s a small tangible way of letting them know we’re thinking of them and love them. We like to bless our children by taking them out to eat when we visit. Sometimes we’ll take them shopping for an article of clothing or groceries. It’s our way of sharing generosity and blessing them. What’s yours?

3. To God

You cannot expect God’s blessings on your life if you are stingy toward Him. We believe that Biblical giving means tithing to God 10% of our income. Even when we were homeless, we gave 10% of our reduced income to God. Withholding what belongs to God and spending it on ourselves is robbing God (see Malachi 3:8-9) and we want his blessing on our finances. We have never regretted giving first to him.

As a couple you need to honor God first. Peter Marshall, former Chaplain to the U.S. Senate, once said, “Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving!”

4. To others

We have a friend who was a single mom raising four children and living in a mobile home. She had very little income. When her children grew out of their clothes, she would wash them, fold them, and put them in bags next to other peoples’ cars at church whom she knew could use them.

Maybe generosity is paying for the person behind you in line at a restaurant. Perhaps as a couple you serve a widow in your church by cleaning her yard in the fall or planting flowers in the spring. It could be that you go as a couple on a missions trip.

When our children were young, Heidi’s mom taught them generosity by giving them each $10 a few weeks before Christmas. Their instruction was to find someone in need and give it to them. Our kids were taught how to watch FOR people in need so they could meet that need. It cultivated generous hearts in them.

As you practice generosity in these four areas you will experience God’s favor upon your lives and your marriage. Together, you will discover that when your hearts are generous you will build your marriage.