Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Joy of Generosity

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, November 21, 2010 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

The Joy of Generosity

2 Kings 3:9-20
Lk. 12.15-21
2 Co 8.7
Malachi 3.10
Phil. 2: 6-9

 As I look through the scriptures searching for God’s words about generosity, I learn that there are some benefits to generosity. In fact, I wouldn’t expect to learn about these benefits just from observing life in general. I need God to reveal them to me in his word, or reveal them to me in my experience with him. 

I find three specific life-benefits--three spiritual results of generosity that affect me by their presence or absence in my life. In fact, they point to how God can transform us by our generosity. Said another way, it seems God does not bless us first so we can then be generous. Rather, he asks us to be generous first, so that then he will hand us his blessings for our faithful obedience.

Here are the three benefits of generosity:

1.  Practicing generosity is the only way to battle the monster of selfishness. Jesus himself taught that “it is better to give than to receive.” (Yes, that’s in the Bible, unlike “cleanliness is next to godliness.”)
Neglecting generosity is selling out to selfishness. I don’t want to be a sellout.   

2.  Practicing generosity allows God to grow us into whole people.

Many complain that their life is empty, or broken, or missing something. They are dissatisfied with their lives and feel as though they have no purpose. We desire wholeness. Completeness. We want to turn I Can’t Get No Satisfaction into a song like Come thou Fount of Every Blessing.

Wholeness is a great gift of God. Faith, speech, knowledge, zeal, and love are all disciplines leading to spiritual wholeness. Yet these are incomplete without the discipline of generosity.  Paul writes in 2 Co 8.7 the words “just as you excel in everything-- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving [emphasis added].

3.   Practicing generosity allows us to experience God!

Malachi 3:1o is often abused as a passage about tithing to the church, but it’s real wisdom is what we learn in it about the character of God.   Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  [Malachi 3.10]  From this we learn that God reciprocates to our giving. We are generous toward him, then he responds with generosity toward us.

You may ask, “Why doesn’t God act generously first?” He does and he has!

“We love God because he loved us first.” [1 John 4:19]

Phi. 2: 6-9--  “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.  He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!  As a result God exalted him . . .”

My conclusion?  God is generous to us; so we should be generous to him.

Let’s do what is against our fallen nature and become obedient in giving.  Be generous toward God who has been generous to you in the gift of his Son for our redemption.

He gave of his best—oh, so generously.

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