A Beautiful Simplicity

Our giving should reflect the generosity and grace of our Lord.

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Today we return to Romans 12:8 to explore the next spiritual gift—generosity. As before, Paul’s directive is concise: “The one who gives” should do so “with generosity.” Our English translation may not seem to offer much guidance, but the Greek contains a beautiful visual we’d do well to examine.

The word Paul uses for “gives” is metadidómi, and it means precisely what we think it should—“to share, bestow, or give a share of.” But he tells us we should give “with generosity.” In some translations, “liberality” or “generously” is used, but that doesn’t quite get at the heart of what he’s trying to say. The Greek word is haplotés. We translate it as “simplicity, sincerity, purity, or graciousness,” but it literally means “not folded” or “not compounded or needlessly complex.” Imagine a bedsheet hanging on a laundry line—its wide, flat expanse drying in the afternoon sun is haplotés. Compare that to a fitted sheet, which is all seams, puckers, and corners and utterly impossible to fold neatly.

Paul is saying that our giving should be straightforward, not tied up in some complicated system of rules or justifications. We shouldn’t put elaborate stipulations on our generosity or run down a strict checklist to see if someone is “worthy.” Rather, we should simply give of what we have as the Holy Spirit leads.