What Makes a Person Generous?

A Surprising Answer from Barnabas

When it comes to generosity, the apostle Barnabas is an obvious icon.

He’s singled out in the book of Acts for selling a piece of property and laying the money from its sale at the feet of the apostles. Ever since, his name has been synonymous with generosity.

But what makes a person generous? Is there a generous gene? Do some people just have it, while others don’t?

While it’s convenient to assume some are born generous, the truth is that generosity is a decision. And just like every other decision, a generous act is born out of a person’s character, values and priorities.

Barnabas’ donation wasn’t about generosity in the first place. He gave because he was so smitten with the Savior. His gift was an overflow from his life in the Spirit, as was his lifetime dedication to living and preaching the Gospel.

Indeed, the early church in its entirety was so drenched in the Spirit that everyone was “one in heart and mind…sharing everything they had.” (Acts 4:32, NIV)

Against this backdrop, a deficit of generosity gets laid bare. It’s not about who has enough to give or even who’s wired to give. Instead, the matter boils down to one simple but profound question: With whom or what are you smitten?

The answer given to this question will reveal the truly generous.


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