Generosity and God’s Blessing (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project

Givers Take All: A helping culture improves performance

The strongest factor for organizational performance may be a culture of helping. According to the McKinsey Quarterly, a group of Harvard psychologists studied performance of 64 units in the U.S. intelligence service after 9/11. They discovered that:

The critical factor wasn’t having stable team membership and the right number of people. It wasn’t having a vision that is clear, challenging, and meaningful. Nor was it well-defined roles and responsibilities; appropriate rewards, recognition, and resources; or strong leadership.

Rather, the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that analysts gave to each other. In the highest-performing teams, analysts invested extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their colleagues. These contributions helped analysts question their own assumptions, fill gaps in their knowledge, gain access to novel perspectives, and recognize patterns in seemingly disconnected threads of information. In the lowest-rated units, analysts exchanged little help and struggled to make sense of tangled webs of data. Just knowing the amount of help-giving that occurred allowed the Harvard researchers to predict the effectiveness rank of nearly every unit accurately.

Adam Grant, McKinsey Quarterly, April 2013

The topic of generosity arises in Deuteronomy 15:7-8. “If there is among you anyone in need…do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand.” Generosity and compassion are of the essence of the covenant. “Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work” (Deut. 15:10). Our work becomes fully blessed only when it blesses others. As Paul put it, “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).

For most of us, the money earned by work gives us the means to be generous. Do we actually use it generously? Moreover, are there ways we can be generous in our work itself? The passage speaks of generosity specifically as an aspect of work (“all your work”). If a co-worker needs help developing a skill or capability, or an honest word of recommendation from us, or patience dealing with his or her shortcomings, would these be opportunities for generosity? These kinds of generosity may cost us time and money, or they may require us to reconsider our self-image, examine our complicity, and question our motives. If we could become ungrudging in making these sacrifices, would we open a new door for God’s blessing through our work?