When you think about generosity, who comes to mind? Think about a name or person.
For me that person was my Dad, who would’ve been 80 years old this past weekend. (He passed away 14 years ago)
Doesn’t that person, in some way, make you smile? Why? Because generosity brings a smile to our face, and a sense warmth to our heart. Not just when we’re the recipients, but also when we are the dispensers.
Some stats came out this week about the richest people in the world in regards to their generosity. Some give away a fair bit, others, not so much. I won’t mention all the ‘low’ ones on the list, but one pops out – Jeff Bezoz, Amazon, who gives away, only, 0.1% of his annual income. This pales in comparison to Warren Buffet & Bill Gates who are in the 30-40% range.
Ironically, a “Christian Leader”, during this same time, spoke out in saying that poor people don’t contribute as much to society, because they give so much less. Terrible. Stats actually say that those with less income give (percentage wise) more than those with more income.
The more you have, the harder it is to release it? A certain lifestyle is not easy to keep up?
x What spurs on generosity?
We continue our winter series : GROW-ing
Today we land on GENEROSITY.
Generosity is a theme through out scripture. You can’t miss it. If you do, you’re reading with blinders on. Jesus talked about money, as much or more that he did about faith & hope. Why? because it’s tied to deeply to our heart. We see generosity in the form of money, gifts, possessions, time, etc.
- God gives – God calls us to give
- God loves – God compels us to love
“The kingdom that Jesus preached & lived was all about a glorious, uproarious, absurd generosity” (NT Wright)
Even though we know this, for some reason, generosity spurs on a few feelings: Two of which are difficult to swallow: Selfishness & FEAR (the biggest obstacle in giving)
Jesus wants us to grow in our generosity.
- to and for needs
- to and for others
- and yes…to and for the local church (remember, as the church receives, it’s called to give away)
Next week, we’ll dabble in stewardship: what we do with the money & resources God provides.
(That will be fun. Nitty Gritty. Practical.)
Paul, when writing to the early church in a city called Corinth, takes some valuable paper space to talk about generosity. (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
In essence, this is a sketch of what it means to be God’s people.
Generosity isn’t just about nice quotes & sayings that make it on a Starbucks cup with your name on it. Generosity is connected to how we see God, the world, the church, and ourselves, and others.
There are some valuable things we can learn from Paul’s words. Let’s dive in.
1 – Rules of harvest, gardening and farming, apply to finances & giving.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. ” (9:6)
Just like planting seeds, there is a correlation between what we give and what we get back. But, be careful that you don’t see this as a way to get rich. That is NOT what this is about. (by any means)
What Paul is trying to say is that generosity is about investment and not loss.
Farmers who plant, never think about the seeds they lose, but about the crops they gain.
No farmer would ever pray “God, please give me a crop, I’m not sure I’m ready to sow any seed though, but I’m trusting you get involved. And I’m holding on to my seed, just in case.”
That would never happen.
Giving & Generosity are opposite of that prayer. They would go more like this, “God, I’m going to plant these resources that I have, and trust that you will make them grow into more than I could ever imagine.”
When Paul says, plant generously and you will reap generously, he’s comparing our giving to how we plant seeds. The more we plant, the more that will grow. If you are generous in your planting, you’ll have a generous crop.
2 – Generosity is always a choice & a decision.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (9:7)
Lowell Berry, a successful business person…in fertilizer (of all things)…was known to be generous…at home, at church, at work, everywhere. Someone asked him why he gave so much and how he gave so much. When he was 12 years old, he decided to give a portion of anything he earned. He only started earning money after college. But his decision came so many years before.
The decision, not the dollar, creates a giver!
Paul gives a few instructions:
- give thoughtfully
- make a decision and stick to it
- don’t do it with resentment/reluctance
- give with a smile
3 – Everyone wins when we’re generous.
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” (9:8-11)
In a nutshell, Paul is saying that when we are generous, everyone wins.
God is the one blessing & providing
We’re on the receiving end of this
We’re also on the giving end
God provides for the one giving and the one receiving
God blessing us, so we can in turn bless others
This all results in everyone being thankful!
- the one giving
- the one receiving
- the one who’s been blessed
- the one who’s blessing
- Everyone is saying thank you
4 – Giving & Generosity aligns our life with God’s mission & agenda.
Simply put, as we said a few weeks ago, our generosity, money, gifts, time, effort, words, everything…is what resources God’s mission on earth.
Know this…God’s mission is a commitment to helping the poor, helping the broken, helping those who are discouraged, helping those who are lost. When we give, when we serve, when we’re generous with time & money, all that stuff gets done. And…we get to take part in a plan that is so much bigger than our single life or single bucket of seeds.
Who doesn’t want that level of significance? I do. I hope you do to.
When we’re generous, we get to be part of that.
Don’t leave it for others (my dad, your _____) Let’s join this adventure. You and Me and Us.
Unless we open our palms & let the seed fly, we will never know what fruit God might bring.
– – – – – – – – – – –
What does that look like for our church community?
Volunteering…everything we do…every way that we serve is about…
– making people feel at home here
– helping people discover Jesus
– loving, serving, caring, listening, …
What does this look like for me?
What seeds are you planting with your generosity?
If you don’t know where to start or don’t think you have it in you, look back at a time when someone was generous with you…invested in you. That, along with a conversation with Jesus, will get you started.
That’s an exciting place to live. Let’s live there together!