As we grow spiritually as Christians, will we become more generous? The question seems forthright, doesn’t it? The implication is that generosity is a result, or a consequence, of spiritual growth. And, we all, if we are Christians, are in an inevitable process of growth, aren’t we?
Let’s look at it in another way, rephrasing the question as follows. Do we grow by becoming more generous? Or at least, is being generous one of the causes, rather than one of the results, of spiritual maturity?
I opt for the latter way of stating the question. It focuses on understanding “doing good” (with being generous as one of various good things to do) not merely as an automatic expression, or an automatic consequence of spiritual growth but as being either a cause, or at least a condition of said growth.
It can be taken as a truism that we don’t grow spiritually simply due to a desire to grow spiritually, but by doing the things that contribute to spiritual growth. A child doesn’t grow taller by desiring to be taller, but by doing the things that contribute to the organism growing, and desiring to grow is not one of those conditions!!
The Christian life is rooted in an act of God’s grace. Whether or not we are responsible for any of the conditions necessary for that grace to take root in us is debated, and this is not the place to offer a solution to that question. But, there is no dispute about all the causation belonging to God. We don’t do anything causative for which we can take credit.
But, from that point on, spiritual growth is not involuntary on our part. We become what we do, clearly with the involvement of the Holy Spirit. Back to our case in point – we will not become generous without giving generously long enough that it becomes part of who we are. Until it becomes part of who we are, we will be going against our nature, but doing so because we know it is the right thing to do. But, if we don’t fight our nature by doing what is right, we will never become generous people. We unconsciously don’t grow into generous people. If we don’t consciously do generous acts, we have no reason to expect that some day we will wake up to find ourselves generous people.
Spiritual growth is not magic!