It’s True: You Can’t Outgive God

How we give reflects the heart of God and His Son.


John Stonestreet

You may have heard the phrase, “you can’t outgive God.” Generosity is one of God’s defining traits. In the beginning, God gave existence to everything. He didn’t have to, but He did. He gave humanity the creation to steward for His glory and His own image to share. After our first parents fell, He gave them a promise of redemption. Afterwards, He gave Abraham and his descendants a promise, to bless them with a great land, a great name, and a great family. Time and again, the story of Scripture is about the God who gives and gives and gives. 

Ultimately, God’s greatest act of generosity was to take on flesh and pay for our sins in the person of Jesus Christ, restoring the world for His original purposes. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16). In Christ, we have received all things, Paul wrote: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) 

One of the ways that human beings best reflect the image of God, and Christians, in particular, best reflect the image of His Son, is through generosity. Generosity and philanthropy have long been a key aspect of American society. From research foundations and college scholarships to churches and children’s hospitals, the generosity of countless Americans fuels so much good work. 

Proof of American generosity extends beyond the anecdotal. Compared to other nations and other governments, America simply excels in terms of net donations and other individual metrics of charity. A notable category of generosity, one to which no other nation comes close, is how many Americans offer their own homes to needy children through adoption. In summary, according to Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Americans gave away over $480 billion last year. In 2021, some 60% of Americans gave money, and 42% volunteered their time. 

Of all Americans, religious Americans are most known for generosity. Karl Zinsmeister with nonprofit Philanthropy Roundtable wrote, “In study after study, religious practice is the behavioral variable with the strongest and most consistent association with generous giving.” Even Christians of a younger generation, consistently out-gave their non-Christian counterparts, donating as much as three times more over the course of a year, according to Lifeway Research. 

Still as Lifeway’s Marissa Postell has written, “A few large givers … can skew the average significantly higher. Because of this, median giving can be a more accurate reflection of ‘typical’ givers.” In reality, something like half of all American evangelicals give less than 1% of their household income to church or charity, according to Grey Matter Research. 

So it may be that we’re not quite as generous as we think we are. That’s why I’m so grateful for ministries that have risen up to encourage God’s people in generosity. For example, Generous Giving. Through several programs, but especially in-home weekend experiences called a Journey of Generosity, Generous Giving challenges Christians from all income levels to be the kind of generous people God created them to be.  

When we are generous, we reflect more of the God who is in charge of yet generous to His world. We should remember what Hobby Lobby founder David Green often says: “It all belongs to God anyway.” Of course, living like it belongs to God is the difficult part. 

At the Colson Center, we are fully aware of the generosity of God’s people. Just last weekend at the Colson Center National Conference, I had the privilege to see many of our generous donors. These are amazing individuals from all walks of life, from all callings, from all capacities, all age ranges, each trying seriously to live out their faith in a hostile and often confusing culture.  

The Colson Center exists to provide the sort of clarity, confidence, and courage that Christians need. We do that in a number of ways, not only through our daily commentary, Breakpoint, but our other podcast offerings, such as Strong Women. We also have products that allow Christians to teach younger generations. For example, the What Would You Say? videos address the toughest questions that our culture brings to us as people of faith and conviction in a way that’s both understandable and repeatable. 

And of course, there is the exploding Colson Fellows program, the very best representation of what the Colson Center is all about. We hope all of the content, the training programs, and the other offerings equips Christians to be the kind of Christian God wants them to be in the time and place He has put them. A former colleague liked to say, “The Church is God’s Plan A, and there’s not a Plan B.” As the president of the Colson Center and the voice of our daily Breakpoint commentaries, I feel especially blessed by the generous givers who line up each and every year to support the ongoing work of the Colson Center.  

If Breakpoint or the other Colson Center resources have been useful to you as you make sense of this culture, and especially as you try to help your children and grandchildren, your congregations, your friends, and neighbors make sense of this culture, please join us in this work by generously sharing out of the abundance that God has provided for you.  

For example, a single gift of just $27 will enable us reach 100 more people with Breakpoint content, blessing them with the kind of clarity they need in the midst of this cultural confusion. For the Colson Center, this is an especially important time to give, as plans are being made for our next fiscal year. Please consider giving a fiscal yearend gift before June 30.  

To do that, visit For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 


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