How to Be Generous on a Budget

Most of us want to be generous. We know it’s better to give than to receive, but sometimes it can feel like we have nothing to offer. Layoffs, unexpected bills, and even good things like holidays, weddings, and other celebrations can all add up and leave our bank accounts empty.

Maybe you feel this way. But, regardless of your finances, you can still live generously. And you won’t regret it! Giving doesn’t have to be extravagant and it doesn’t have to stress you out. Here are a few ideas:

Share your time. Invite friends to do everyday life with you. Run an errand or go for a walk together, talk on the phone during your evening commute, or meet for coffee after church. And be present. When we take the time to listen and get to know people, they really appreciate it!

Give encouragement. Maybe you know someone who is struggling, and they could use some kind words. Thank them for something they’ve done, share an uplifting Bible verse, or just let them know that you’re praying for them.

Offer service. Use your gifts to help a neighbor or friend. Ask them how they’re doing and listen for what they need. It could be watching their kids for an afternoon, bringing them dinner, or working on a house project together. Simplify your schedule to make room for serving others, and let them know you’re available!

Show mercy. Look for ways to bless the difficult people in your life. Overlook the rude comment or email. Smile and say “hi” to the person who ignores you. There’s always a reason for their actions, and it usually has nothing to do with you. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.” Instead of adding more to the hurt, show them the same love and mercy that God extended to you:

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4–5 NLT

Share your faith. The Good News about Jesus — his life, death, and resurrection — is the greatest hope we have. Our real debt isn’t financial, it’s spiritual. And, it comes from our rebellion against God — choosing to disobey his commands and to go our own way. But, the Bible says: Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 NLT) Share this message of hope with the people in your life — those who don’t know God, and those who do. He is the source of every good gift, and our greatest example of generosity.

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 NLT

No matter where you are financially, you can follow his lead. Ask yourself this: What do the people in my life need right now? And, What do I need to do (or give up doing) in order to serve them better?

Let God guide you to live a more generous life.