Our God is a generous God, why do we grumble when He is generous to others? We are prone to expect His generosity with us, but look less kindly on His generosity to others. Let’s consider some Biblical examples:
Jonah – God called him to go to Nineveh to call the people to repent, Jonah disobeyed and ran from God, got caught in a storm on the sea, thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish, cried out to God, got spewed onto land by said fish, went to Nineveh and called the people to repent, which they did and God relented.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. Jonah 3:10-4:1
Though it made Jonah angry that God was gracious and generous with the people of Nineveh, yet when it came to his own comfort he desired God be gracious and generous to him.
Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4:6-11
Then there is the story of 2 sons of a wealthy father. One asked for his inheritance, squandered it on poor choices, came to his senses and dragged his sorry-self home. The Father, saw him afar off and ran and greeted him enthusiastically, killed the fattened calf to celebrate his lost son’s return. But, the older brother was not a fan. He had a begrudging spirit of his father’s generous welcoming of his prodigal brother.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:25-32
Why do we begrudge God’s generosity to others as if denying that He has been abundantly generous to us?
Remember the parable of the field laborers? The field owner went out to find men to work in his vineyard. The first group he promised one denarius for a full day’s work, and each hour he returned and brought more workers. At the end of the day he called those offered work at the 11th hour and paid them one denarius – leading the others to think they would receive more than promised. But when they received their wages, the same one denarius as the others who worked far fewer hours, they were angry.
And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ Matthew 20:11-15
There are many similar Biblical examples but these few make the point. People want God’s generosity, kindness and mercy but tend to get annoyed when God shows the same to others. Does that describe us? Sometimes it describes me.
Let’s face it. God is gracious and generous and not just to His children. His common grace extends around the world on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Through it we are reminded again and again of His character. Our God is gracious and generous. Let us rejoice and applaud who He is and His handiwork wherever He reveals it.
Written By Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and provides ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.