The topic today is “Nobility.” Nobility is expressed in generosity, and generosity is a significant source of happiness. Let us explore this subject, both spiritually and scientifically.
[Hi, I am Sam Stone, the Lightkeeper. You are the light, and I am the keeper! Your light is your service to the world, and my job is to help you shine your brightest so that you are gratified, and God is glorified.]
The Hebrew word for noble is “nadiv”, which is synonymous to “generosity” and “altruism.” The Bible says,
“Those who are noble, plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.” (Isaiah 32:8).
Biblically, the nobility is not about being born of the aristocracy, but having the habit of generosity. It is not about social status but a noble heart. It does not have anything to do with being rich or poor because a person can be rich and generous, or rich and stingy.
A poor person can be generous too. You might have occasionally seen documentary videos online or in the news showing some homeless persons sharing food with those who do not have. They have a noble heart.
A recent survey shows that generous people are three times happier than those who are not so. They have more friends. They are also healthier. They tend to have normal blood pressure and live longer. Most importantly, they feel life is meaningful.
The University of Zurich recently conducted research on the neurological linkage between generosity and happiness. They did brain scans on those who have recently done some generous acts and found a “warm glow” at the part of the brain associated with happiness.
Some people might wonder how generous you must be to have such happiness effect. Professor Philippe Tobler, the lead researcher, said it does not matter how much you give. The act of giving itself induces happiness. He said,
“You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice,” ~Prof. Tobler.
Even buying a cup of coffee for your busy coworker can generate happiness inside your brain. However, the Bible does indicate that we reap proportionately to what we sow. It says,
“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Co 9:6b).
Another question was how long does the happiness last after an act of generosity. While there is no clear answer to that question, generous people tend to be habitually generous, and the habit itself has been proven to be beneficial to their long-term health and wellbeing.
Now let us look at how to tone your spiritual muscle of generosity. There are three correct mindsets that we must have to enjoy the happiness of generosity.
How to tone the muscle of generosity?
1. Have the Correct Concept of God
The Bible shows us that having a wrong concept of God can develop a scarcity mentality, which turns them into misers and hoarders. In Genesis, Adam and Eve betrayed God because they doubted God’s generosity.
You know the classic story. Satan cast doubt on them, making them believe that God was withholding some good things from them by forbidding them to eat from the tree of knowledge, that God did not want them to be like God.
The moment they believed God was hiding something from them, the betrayal began, and they fell from grace. Otherwise, they would have stayed in the garden, managing God’s overabundant creation for eternity.
Another example is the Parable of the Talents told by Jesus. I am sure you know the story. This story might sound like a business lesson, but it is really about Jesus’ concept of generosity as an investment. So, let us look at this parable from that perspective.
“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, (in case you are wondering, a talent is equivalent to approximately a million-dollar in today’s economy) to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.
But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.
For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Mt 25:14–30).
The main difference between the third slave and the first two is that he believed his master is miserly, so he became a miser by burying his talent (a million-dollar) in the ground. So, the wrong concept of God can develop a scarcity mentality in people and hurt their ability to be generous.
Those who have the right concept of God know that God has been generous from the beginning of creation. Even after humanity betrayed him, he showed even greater generosity by giving us his only Son to redeem us from the suffering in the hell of scarcity. Paul said,
“He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Rom 8:32).
God is so generous that he has given everything to us because his Son is pretty much his everything. Search your heart and find if you have any doubt about God’s generosity and purge them all out because it can be detrimental to your behaviors. Meditating on the generous God can promote a generosity mindset in us because we helps us develop an abundance mentality.
2. Have the Correct Concept of Self
We often behave according to who we are. The higher our self-esteem, the more generous we become. We must know our status as children of God. Being children of God means a great deal. You are a prince or princess of the King of kings. You are royalty and nobility, so behave accordingly. Peter said,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet 2:9).
This verse is a good reminder and affirmation of your noble status. You are part of a chosen race. In the Old Testament, the “chosen race” means Israel, but in the New Testament, it means a spiritual belonging to God’s holy nation.
Since you belong to a holy nation, you are also holy. Holy means being set apart, not by your own merit but by the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. Knowing you belong to a holy nation, you develop a noble mindset.
God chose you to be his own people. You are part of the inner circle of God who is handpicked by God to experience his grace and proclaim his generosity.
It says you are also part of the royal priesthood. In the Old Testament, the priesthood belongs to only a select group of people to are given direct access to God. Know that you have direct access to God as a royal priest. As a royal priest, your status in the world is like a bridge between people and God. People come to God through you.
Even though you may not noble by birth, you are now noble by belief. You belong to an extremely generous God. In fact, God is not only generous but also extravagant with his love. You can say He is a Prodigal God. (This is another subject we can talk extensively next time.) So, live a life worthy of your royalty and nobility by exercising your generosity.
3. Have the Correct Concept of Giving
There are two essential concepts of giving,
1) Giving is Sowing Seeds
Many people think giving means losing. Gaining means wining. So they are reluctant to give. However, the biblical concept of giving is like sowing seeds. You reap what you sow. If you sow generously, you reap generously. Jesus says,
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38).
Also, in the Parable of the Talents mentioned above, have you wondered why Jesus did not include someone losing their talents when they traded with them? It is because generosity always yields generous returns. It is like a snowball that the longer it rolls, the bigger it becomes. The only way for it not to grow is by not rolling it, like the servant with one talent.
Jesus did say, “Ask and you will receive.” What is the difference between “Ask and you will receive,” and “Give and you will receive?” He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Your gift will return to you as blessings. It might not return to you exactly in the same currency as you give, but it will surely return to you in the form of blessings.
There was a wealthy man who gave to a college to allow the underprivileged people to afford higher education. Years later, his business went bankrupt, and he was not able to give as he liked to anymore.
One day, he was invited to the college to receive an award for his previous contributions. He went there reluctantly, but he was surprised to be greeted by many graduates who returned to attend the ceremony to honor him. Some of them have already become successful in society. The outpour of their gratitude moved him to tears.
When he was asked to give a speech, he said he was so glad that he gave when he could. Now, even though he had near to nothing, he felt immensely blessed to see the fruit of the seeds he sowed.
Your generosity will always return to you. You may not live to see the fruit, but it is undoubtedly multiplying behind the scene. Ultimately, all your fruit will be revealed to you when you are at the eternal presence of the generous God.
So, the correct concept of giving is like sowing seeds. Do not look at generosity as a present loss, but a future harvest.
2) Giving is Stewardship
The second key concept of giving is stewardship. Even though stewardship sounds like we are to safeguard what we are entrusted, Jesus’ reveals that we are to give it away to let it bear fruit and multiply.
So you are not giving away what you own, you are giving away what you owe. The better we give, the more we are entrusted, and our level of stewardship also rises. There are three levels of stewardship based on what Jesus taught.
We begin as Servant Stewards. When we do an excellent job as a Servant Steward, we will hear Jesus say, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then Jesus would say,
“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:15).
At that point you are no longer a Servant Steward but a Friend Steward, a confidant of Jesus, and he will reveal to you the secrets of his ministry of generosity.
Finally, you will become a Child Steward. That is when you assume the full role of nobility and royalty. The Bible says,
“It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” (Rom 8:16-17a).
So there are three stages of stewardship. First, as Servant Stewards, we learn to sow the seeds of generosity faithfully, then as Friend Stewards, we become part of the inner circle of generosity, and finally, as Child Stewards, we become joint-heirs with Christ and join the family business of generosity.
There you have it. To tone your spiritual muscle of generosity,
1. Have the Correct Concept of God
2. Have the Correct Concept of Self
3. Have the Correct Concept of Giving
Let us tone our generosity muscle by developing these right concepts so that we can bless the world with God’s blessings. Amen!