Today we're going to talk about the Heart of Generosity. The sermon title today, if you're taking notes, is My Relationship with Generosity.
My Relationship with Generosity is the sermon title for this morning. John Wesley said this. He said, Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
I really like that statement a lot. Do everything you can, is basically what it's saying, to people, to reach people, to love people, by all the means that we can, as long as we can do it. Mother Teresa said this, Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love. It's a great perspective on generosity, isn't it? I think sometimes we often think that generosity is big and it has to be massive. Sometimes, it's what Mother Teresa said, it's doing small things with great love. Sometimes it's doing small things with great intentions and a great heart behind it. John Bunyan said this, he said, You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. Again, the Heart of Generosity. To do things for people that may never be able to say thank you or pay you back, sometimes they don't even know that it's you that does it. See, that's generosity.
In fact, I've been talking a lot with people this time of year. In fact, two weeks ago, I was at a church in Virginia preaching on generosity. A different message, but on generosity, they were having a thing called Legacy and a heart for their house where they were doing similar to what we were doing. And just the conversation around tithes and offerings gets a lot of people stuck.
For some reason, tithes and offerings, the conversation, people kind of hit a ceiling and then they kind of go just baseline. What I want to do is talk about generosity. Because generosity to me, it covers tithing, it covers giving. But it goes way beyond that to the heart that we have towards being just generous people. I think being generous in multiple ways should be a mark of people of God. Amen, church?
It really should. Just being generous should mark who we are. Three things about generosity real quickly. Number one is this, is that we are generous. Number one, because God is generous. And this is just a straightforward generosity message today.
John 3, 16, a verse most know, for God so loved the world that he what? That he gave. Again, God gave. So what did he give? Here's a few things to write down.
Here's a few things. He gave of himself. God gave of himself so that we can be saved. He gave us salvation.
So he gave himself in the form of Jesus' son. He gave us salvation. He didn't have to give us salvation, by the way. He didn't have to give us a way to be redeemed. He didn't have to give us a way towards righteousness.
We were the ones, don't forget, we were the ones and maybe are the ones who have chosen to walk away from him. Don't ever think that God owes us anything. He doesn't owe you anything. Yet he gave of himself. He gave to save. God gave freely. God gives fairly. I love the verse that says he's no respecter of person. You know what that means? It means that he loves everybody the same.
Don't you love that, by the way? I'm so grateful that God loves all of us the same. He doesn't play favorites. He doesn't have a hierarchy.
He doesn't have people that he looks at more so than other people. He doesn't turn a blind eye to anything that we have or anything that we are. But he gave himself. He gave to save. He gave freely and fairly and ultimately he gave generously.
How do we know that he gave generously? Well, look at your life. Do you realize how fortunate you really are? Just think about how blessed you really are.
Even on your worst day, how blessed you are. This Thursday I'm heading to Mexico for about a week. I'll be back just before Thanksgiving. I got the opportunity to go. In fact, I'm bringing Pastor Robbie Thomas with me this trip.
People are laughing already. I know. It's a 50-50 shot on whether or not Robbie's coming back, in my opinion. I'm not sure how this is going to go. I love Robbie. Robbie's going for the sole purpose to find trips for our men's ministry to go on, which I'm very excited about. Robbie's going to go with me. He's going to explore.
He's going to find some projects. I'm going to come back and work with Pastor John Fry here on what's next for our men's ministry. But every time I go, I'm always reminded about how blessed we are. I'll be speaking about 12 times in four days to a couple hundred pastors. Working with a church while I'm down there for about three hours on a Monday.
Just talking leadership and discipleship and training. Every time I go, I feel so blessed by what we have and who we are. Not that we're better than. In fact, in many ways, where we go, they're better off than we are in so many ways. But you're just reminded about how blessed you are.
About the way that God's moving in our church and in our life and in our families. Let's never forget that we're blessed. Look at somebody next to you and say, hey, you're blessed. Just tell them that. Just remind them, you're blessed. If you're sitting next to your spouse, husbands, look at your wife and say, you are very blessed.
Just tell them that. Come on, guys. You are very blessed. John, you've been married for what, three months now? I don't think you just did that. Yeah.
So take it from the newly newlywed. He was like, I'm not saying that. He was like, no way.
No way. He just said, I'm the blessed one. Let's all go, give it a few years, John. We'll see.
We'll see how this goes. Listen, we reflect the heart and the nature of God when we ourselves are generous. We really do. If we serve a generous God, then what do you think happens when we're generous? Well, we reflect him. We reflect his heart. So here's a couple ways to be generous.
You can just jot these down. They're not anything new, but just as a reminder, a few ways to be generous. One, it's with our money. We can be generous with our money. We can give to churches. We can give to organizations. We can buy somebody's meal. We can help a neighbor out when they're in need. There's a lot of ways to help generosity with our money. Another way is with our time. Sometimes our time is our most valuable commodity we have. Just being willing to spend time with somebody means a lot. Especially in our culture and our time when things are so busy.
Just to slow down and just spend time with people. So time. We can be generous with it. We can be generous with our gifts and our talents. God has uniquely wired everybody in this room. And everybody in this room is needed in the body of Christ.
That's not just me saying that. That is a biblical concept that is true. Everyone in this room is needed to fill out the body of Christ. So the question is, are you using your gifts and your talents for his kingdom or just your kingdom? And it's okay to use it for your job and your, quote, unquote, kingdom.
That's fine. That's also why you have gifts and talents. But what are you doing for the kingdom? How are you utilizing it here in the life of the church? Are you able to serve? Are you able to serve in our community?
And another way, I got kind of three altogether, but these are just as critical. We also need to be generous with our forgiveness, with our love, and with our kindness. When we get down to it, how generous are we when it comes to forgiving people? How generous are we when it comes to the way we're supposed to love people? How generous are you with just our kindness, words of kindness, acts of kindness?
How many know those matter? How we respond to people, how we love people, how we forgive people, that matters. And we can be very generous or very stingy. And I would love for our church and the people of Crossroads to be known as generous people.
That's what I would love. When people talk about our church, what will they say? I hope, I hope that they will, in their wording of what Crossroads is, I hope that they will say, that church is filled with the most generous people we know. They're always willing to help, they're always willing to serve, they're always willing to give, they're kind, they're making an impact in the city. That's what I want us to be known for. Amen? Number two is this, what keeps us from being generous?
Let me hit this real quickly. Let me give us a few things as warnings that keep you from being generous. The first one is this, it's fear. We will allow fear of the unknown, maybe fear of our finances, maybe fear of our time, maybe fear of what we can't even expect, maybe fear of failure, maybe fear that we're not good enough. We will allow fear to interfere with being generous.
2 Timothy 1.7 says, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and of self-control. Pride will also get in the way of us being generous. We allow the pride of who we are, the pride of what we have, the pride of what is mine. In fact, oftentimes pride keeps our hands clenched around our stuff. It's pride, I built this, I did this, I'm the one that made this, I'm the one that can do this. We allow pride instead of just saying, Lord, it's all yours. There's two ways to live life. We can live life with our hands clenched around everything we have, or we can live life with our hands open to give and to receive.
We're going to talk about that in just a moment. Proverbs 16 and 18, pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before fall. Another thing is doubt. Doubt will keep us from being generous. Warning sign of doubt. Proverbs 3 and 5 says, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Some of the reason why people aren't generous with their money or their time or talents or forgiveness is we doubt really whether God's going to provide for us.
We just painted a picture of what we need financially. You might sit there and go, I would love to give if I was in a different place, or I'd love to give if this. Sometimes when we say that though, what we're doing is saying, God, I would give, but I'm not sure if you're going to provide. That's doubting. Here's a statement I always love to use when I talk about generosity.
It's very true. That if we can trust God with our very soul for all eternity, then why can't we trust Him with our generosity? If we can give Him our life and say, you forgave me, therefore I'm going to be with you for all eternity and trust Him with that, why do we have such a hard time trusting Him with our wallet? Why do we have such a hard time trusting Him with our kids or with our career or our marriage or life?
It almost doesn't make sense, but that's what happens often. We can trust Him with eternity, but we struggle with the day to day. Doubt will keep us from doing that. The next one is this, this selfishness. At the core of it, selfishness will keep us from being generosity. I want to read to you a passage in 2 Timothy 3, 1-5. This is one of those verses in the New Testament. The New Testament is littered with verses and passages that are like this, that speak of the times to come and the end times, if you want to call it, or the times approaching.
I think this one hits right on the head of where our culture is. It says this in 2 Timothy 3, verse 1, But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. But then it begins to explain what happens to people.
Listen to how it starts to define culture and people and tell me does this not sound like 2022? For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and verse 5 to me is a terrifying verse, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power. See what it's explaining is a culture that knows of God, that has the appearance of godliness and in this context appearance of godliness can mean they're just good people or they do good things or they know how to talk the talk and they know how to do the right things at the right time, but there's no power behind it because it's all just a fake facade. At the core what it's saying is that people who have this fake facade of being good and godly, what it's saying is that on the inside there is a list of issues that are happening.
One of them is lovers of money and one of them is being selfish and being conceited. And so this will keep us from generosity. The third and final point this morning is this, is I want to talk just about the heart and the overall heart of generosity. Generosity has much more to do with a person's heart and values than what's in your bank account by the way.
It's got more to do with your heart and the why behind you do what you do than how much stuff you have at your house. It goes way beyond that. God has blessed us so that we can be generous.
That's really true. Dallas Willard noted this statement and I want to read this to you carefully. I think Dallas Willard summarizes it so well. He says, In frugality we abstain from using money or goods at our disposal in ways that merely gratify our desires or our hunger for status, glamour, or luxury. The spiritually wise person has always known that frivolous consumption corrupts the soul away from trust in, worship of, and service to God and injures our neighbors as well. In our current world, a large part of the freedom that comes from frugality is freedom from the spiritual bondage caused by financial debt.
It's a mouthful there that he's saying. But he speaks about the spiritually wise person. Understanding that in our frugality, if we're not careful, we actually will harm our neighbor. In our selfishness, in our pride, in our spiritual bondage caused by debt. By the way, listen, most Americans live way above their means. They're living in debt.
Which means that even the thought of being generous is a struggle because they're just living paycheck to paycheck, day to day, week to week. Which, by the way, is a great time for me to plug our Financial Peace University. We have an incredible Financial Peace University.
They're already mid-season right now, but you can catch the next one that's coming. It's a great opportunity to go and learn how to be financially free. There's financially free mentors that are part of that. We want to help you live debt free.
So we don't want to just tell you, hey, don't live in debt, we want to help you. Amen? That's a good thing. There's about 80 people or so right now involved in our financial freedom class that meets on Monday nights.
This one's about to wind down and we'll launch another one in the new year. So be listened for. But it's an opportunity to learn how to do this.
We've said this before, but it's worth saying again. The goal of generosity and the goal of really this message and the heart of our church. And I hope you can trust when I say this, it's not to get money out of your wallet.
At the core of it, it's to get greed out of your heart. That's really what this is about. I'm not up here trying to get money out of you.
I'm not up here to try to get more of your time and more of your talent. That's also between you and God. But at the heart of it, what I hope happens is that these conversations around generosity start to get the selfishness and the greed and the fear and the doubt out of our hearts so that we can actually walk in a life of generosity. The decision to be generous cannot just be a mind and a head decision. It's got to be a heart decision. The decision to give of ourself, whether it's our time or talent or our treasure, should not be reluctant. It should not be out of guilt. The decision should be cheerful.
It should be with joy. We don't have to give. We get to give. And at the core of it, giving helps us become what God wants us to be.
It really, truly does. And generosity, practicing generosity, walking generosity, is a sign of our spiritual growth because when we do it, we are trusting God with our time, talent, and money and treasures. And as we do that, as we spiritually grow, what happens is that it turns from fear and doubt to actually being excited, actually being like, I can't wait to give. I personally couldn't wait to impact because I couldn't wait to get on my phone really truly and give. And whether it was a large amount or a small amount, there was a condition of my heart that the Lord was like, this is exciting.
I get to be part of that. That hasn't always been there. But it's there because of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. It is spiritually immature to be selfish and greedy and to hold and to fear and to doubt.
And I get it. We've got to walk through that sometimes. Ultimately, generosity can open the door to the gospel.
And that's really what we're hoping, right? That through our generosity, it opens the door for the gospel for people. It opens the door for people to know Jesus. 2 Corinthians 9, 6 through 8 says it this way. It says, the point is this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. One of the best verses, in my opinion, on generosity because it lays it out. Every one of you should decide where?
Come on, feedback, where? Your heart. Not based on my account, not my mind, but in my heart. I should decide in my heart what to give. And it shouldn't be reluctant. It shouldn't be under guilt or compulsion, but it should be cheerful.
Thank you. It should be cheerful. It should be with great joy that we give. One of the first churches that I was in when I came out of college, I'd never seen this before, and I was there for several years. And every Sunday they took the offering, the first couple of times that it caught me off guard, the entire church would get up and just cheer as loud. It was loud. It was like, hey, it's time to give the offering. The entire church was like, yes! Yeah! And they would cheer and cheer and cheer and cheer. And it was like, what's going on here? I've never seen that.
No, none of you have ever done that here. We go, hey, here are the way that gives. Yes!
Woo! Take it. No. I'm not saying we should, by the way. I'm not saying we should.
But isn't that not the condition that it should be? My heart, I should be excited about giving. And here's why. There's a mixture of generosity and blessings. Real quickly, this is the way I'm close. Generosities and blessings go together. Luke 6, 38, give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Now, talking about forgiveness, right? So, again, I don't want to just point towards money. That passage there isn't necessarily talking about money. It's talking about how we forgive and how we live our life, that if we do it well and with generosity, guess what?
It's going to be given back to us. Proverbs 11, 24 says, one gives freely, yet grows all the richer. Isn't that amazing? It's almost opposite of how the world thinks sometimes. The world thinks I have to save and just hoard everything I have. But in Proverbs it says when we give freely, we actually grow richer, and another withholds what he should and suffers what he wants. There's a blessing in generosity, and I love that we're not afraid to talk about that, by the way. I hope you're not afraid to mix the word blessing with generosity, right?
I hope you're not afraid of that. I hope that you understand that there is a great generosity and a great blessing that are hand to hand. Now, we don't give just to be blessed. That's the wrong motive. We don't give just to receive. We're not naming it and claiming it and blabbing it and grabbing it. It's not a prosperity movement we're talking about. But there is a concept that when we give, God blesses. When we plant seed, it grows. There's generosity and there's hope.
Listen to this. Generosity mixes with hope. 1 Timothy 6, 17, as for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Generosity puts our hope in Christ, not in our money.
That's what it's saying. The last thing is this, generosity and the heart. At the core of it, it's a heart thing. See, this is the heart of generosity. 1 John 3, 17, but if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? If you see somebody that has a need and you can fill it and you don't, how in the world does God's love abide there? Instead, it should be we see a need and we fill it if we can.
We see a need and we do something about it. Matthew 6, 1 warns about practicing your righteousness before people. Jesus' warning about how the Pharisees would truly give. They would give and they would sound a bell and they would want people to show them and they would want people to see them, not just giving, but this verse is actually speaking about alms, which is the practice of kindness and giving to the needy and the poor.
And so what it was saying is that when the Pharisees helped out poor, they wanted everybody to see them do that. And Jesus says, no, you should do that stuff in secret. Nobody should even know what you're doing.
Your right hand shouldn't even know what your left hand is doing. One final verse, Matthew 6, 21. From where your treasure is, there your heart will be awesome. Generosity comes down to trust. It comes down to the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-16 17:48:58 / 2022-11-16 17:58:45 / 10