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The Genius of Generosity - Why God Prospers Generous People, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
December 30, 2022 5:00 am

The Genius of Generosity - Why God Prospers Generous People, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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December 30, 2022 5:00 am

Is it possible to measure generosity? Chip continues his series “The Genius of Generosity” and reveals how you can actually measure your generosity.

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God loves all people equally, but He does not bless all people equally. Some people He prospers for a very specific reason.

If you want to find out what that is, stay with me. That's today. Is there a secret to receiving God's blessings in our life? Well, today Chip's going to help us better understand that question as he continues our series, The Genius of Generosity. But before he does, for the past several programs, we've been highlighting the work we're doing globally to encourage pastors, disciple young people, and motivate Christians to live like Christians. We believe these efforts are really important, but they can only happen with your help. So if you'd like to partner with us financially, now's a great time to do so because until midnight tomorrow, December 31st, every gift we receive will be matched dollar for dollar. Go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003.

That number again is 888-333-6003 or visit LivingOnTheEdge.org. Atlas Nurse tap donate, and thanks in advance for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Okay, here's Chip for his message, Why God Prospers Generous People. I want to begin with a little parable that I ran across that was very interesting.

Imagine, if you will, the scene. Once there was a man lost in desert near death from thirst. He wandered aimlessly throughout the burning sand for many days, growing weaker by the moment. At long last, he saw an oasis in the distance, palm trees indicating there'd be water.

He stumbled forward feverishly, fell beneath the shade of the trees. Finally, he might quench his thirst. But he noticed something strange about this particular oasis. Instead of a pool of water or a bubbling brook, it was odd. There was a pump, and next to the pump was a jar of water. And next to the jar of water was a small parchment with handwritten note.

The note explained that the leather gasket within the pump must be saturated with the water for the pump to work. Within the jar was just enough water for this purpose. The note also warned the reader, do not drink from the jar. Every drop must be poured down into the pump in the opening so the base of the pump can be soaked, the hard leather becomes softened, and as the leather is softened and expanded, an unlimited supply of sweet water would be available.

The parchment's final instructions were simply to refill the jar for the next traveler. The man faced a dilemma. He was dying of thirst, and there wasn't much water, but he found some. Probably not enough water to save his life, but it seemed like the height of folly to take the little bit of water that he had and pour it down the base of a pump.

And so, what do you do? On the one hand, if the note is true, and he pours it down, he has all the water that he needs. On the other, if he drinks what he has, he might temporarily quench his thirst, but find himself in an oasis and die. As I thought of this, I have a little jar here, and it has a little note, and it's a note a lot like what he had. I'd like you to think about this jar as your life, and all the water inside this jar is all the time, all the energy, all the talent, all the money, all the opportunity, your 401k, your savings account, your car, your house, it's all that you have. And we have this ridiculous command of God that says, give, pour it out, trust me, don't be afraid, don't be so tight with your time, don't be so tight with your talent, don't be tight and guarded with your money.

Trust me with your life, and as you give it away, you will never reflect my son more than as you're generous. And then all the promises of scripture are how smart that is. It's not noble or holy or wonderful to say, wow, I'm going to pour this down so I can have an unlimited supply. It's smart, but it requires one thing, doesn't it?

That note better be true, and that pump better have water. I want to give you four airtight facts about generosity that are absolutely true that will help you and help me begin to take the kind of steps that will allow us by faith to say, it's smart, it's wise to pour out our lives. In fact, Jesus is called, he poured out his life as a drink offering. Paul would use the same phrase when he talked about his life and his love for the Philippian church.

So are you ready? Four facts that I think will give us faith. Open your teaching hand out if you will, and let's dig in together. Fact number one, God blesses generous people. Some of you have been around, do not get nervous as I share these verses, because some of you are going to come to some conclusions like, what's he saying? Is he taking us in this?

Just listen. And what I want you to do is I read these verses. I just want you to ask and answer the question, does the Bible teach that God blesses generous people or not? I've got Old Testament, New Testament, the wisest man in the world, and Jesus himself.

Follow along. First Acts 20, 35, in everything I did, Luke writes, I showed you that by this kind of hard work, we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Luke 6, 38, from the lips of Jesus, give.

Why? And it will be given unto you. Well how? Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your cup.

For with the measure of the size that you use, it will be measured or given back to you. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, Proverbs 22, nine, a generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. Are you getting the drift?

Pretty strong argument. Solomon, Proverbs 19, 17, he who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and what does God do? When people are kind to the poor, he will reward him for what he has done. Deuteronomy, Moses writes, when you're out harvesting your field, and you overlook a sheaf, you know, you're harvesting your field, and oh boy, we forgot that one back there. Notice what he says, do not go back and get it, leave it for the alien, for the fatherless and the widow.

Why? So that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Turn the page if you will, Proverbs three, nine, and ten. He says, honor the Lord, with what? Honor God, what's it look like? Honor God with all your wealth, how? With the very first fruits of your crops, you give the first and the best.

What's the result? Then your barns will be filled with overflowing, and your vats will burst out with new wine. And then finally, Solomon in Proverbs 11, 24, and five, I love this one. One man gives freely, yet gains all the more. Another withholds what is justly due, but comes only to poverty. A generous man will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Now listen very carefully. This is not a give to get, and this is not the prosperity gospel. This is not a formula where you can figure out, oh, this is how God has set up life. I'm going to figure out how to use God and somehow give so I can get more. That's just being selfish.

But what the Bible teaches from Jesus, to Moses, to Solomon, to all through scripture is very, very simple. You have limited capacity. You have limited time. You have limited money. You have limited opportunity. You have limited energy.

You have limited talent. And God says to you, if you will take those limitations, and you will give the first and the best, and trust me, I have unlimited supply to help you fulfill my purpose in you, and my purpose through you. The bright idea that comes out of this is this. Generous living produces emotional happiness, spiritual holiness, and as a general rule, material prosperity. No give to get. No playing games with God. But you know, people that are generous are happy.

They're like anti-scrooge. You know, when you just can't wait for your husband, or your wife, or a close friend, or one of your kids, or a grandkid to open something right, you know they want it. You know they want it. You've been thinking about it. You checked it out on the internet. You bought it.

You can't wait. You know what that is? You're made to give and to bless others.

And when you do, what happens? It's more blessed to give than to receive. But God says this is a way of life. There's an enemy to this though. Left to ourself and in our flesh, I'm a selfish, greedy person. I mean I want to appear generous, but protect me.

Right? Now none of you are like that, but that's just left to myself. The only antidote to greed and selfishness and the power of money, the antidote is to give. It's when I give God the first, when I give him the best, it breaks the power of greed, and that false belief that just a little bit more, just a little bit more, that it can produce security, and it'll take care of me, and someday when I have then, that false belief. And then finally what you find is people that are generous with material things, and generous with their time, generous with the talent, just the hand of God's blessing is upon them. Now you may be hearing what I'm saying and thinking, okay now wait a second.

Fact number one is God blesses generous people, and you might be saying, well I think I'm pretty generous, but I'm not experiencing that kind of blessing. In fact I got a lot of debt right now. I got a lot of pressure right now.

I don't have enough time right now. I mean how does this really work? Well I did a little experiment.

I thought to myself, I wonder if there's a difference between being truly generous, and just assuming or thinking that you're generous. I went to a little strip mall where there was multiple little restaurants, and a Starbucks, and I went from person to person to person. I said I'm trying to find a hundred people. I have one question. It's a survey. I just want a yes or no answer, no explanation, yes or no. And I mean I had young people, old people, all kind of ethnic backgrounds, and I walked around, and I was scared at first, and it got to be fun. I said excuse me.

The two ladies are stopping. Hey I don't want any money. I'm not going to do anything. It's a survey. Can I ask you this question?

And I said here it is. Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no? Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no?

If I ask you that, just right now, don't raise your hand, don't do anything, but just your self talk. Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no? Well my very unscientific survey revealed that 80% of the people at that strip mall considered themselves very quickly to be generous people. Only two people said no.

And so I couldn't resist. I had a follow-up question. So you don't think you're generous?

No. Kind of like I don't think I'm generous. I'm not trying to be generous, buddy. Just you know move on.

Get your own coffee or something. Now here's what I want you to get. What if all the verses I talked about aren't for people who think they're generous? What if all the verses, I mean these are the words of Jesus. The words of Solomon. What if God really has a standard or a criteria that if you fulfill that you're generous and these promises apply to you and if you just think you're generous which I'm now learning 80% at least of the people think they are, then they really don't apply to you.

And so let me give you fact number two. Fact number two is that God provides clear criteria for becoming or knowing that you're a generous person. I mean right out of the Bible you know you may have said yes, you may have said no, but I will tell you in about 10 minutes you can know with absolute certainty from God's perspective whether he looks at you as a generous person.

The first two are review and the last three are new. Characteristic number one. Genuine generosity gives the first and the best to God. When God looks at people, when they get the first crops, the first of their paycheck, the first blessing, the first opportunity, they come to God and say I recognize all I have belongs to you.

I want to give you the first and the best. People who do that from God's perspective are generous. Second, genuine generosity is systematic and regular. So it's not just an ooey gooey feeling or near Christmas or this person has a need and I gave them a couple hundred bucks or I helped this person over here.

Genuinely generous people on a regular systematic basis give. That 1 Corinthians, remember 16 verse 2 where Paul is writing to them and says now on the first day of the week I want you to prepare yourself and I want you to decide in proportion to how God has blessed you on a regular systematic way. In the New Testament times most people were paid daily. They were paid at the end of the day.

Most of us get paid every two weeks or once a month or by commission. And so the issue is when I get paid do I regularly and systematically give the first and the best to God. So that would make us generous. If I don't do that I can feel generous but from God's perspective I'm not. Third criteria. Genuine generosity is proportional to our income.

Notice that same passage 1 Corinthians 16 2. He says let everyone decide on the first day of the week according to what? According to his income.

Let me put it this way. Let's pretend that right now I could invite one of you up here and you were just very bold and we learned that you earn $30,000 a year and live in the Silicon Valley. And someone else was very bold and very open and vulnerable and I had them come up and they make $300,000 here in the Silicon Valley. A.

B. Both of them have maybe grown up in the church. Both of them love God. And both of them have learned that tithing is important. Giving the first 10%. But they've been taught that that's God's part and somehow unconsciously believe the biggest lie in the church that the other 90% is theirs. So you just give 10% to God and it's like boy I'm glad that bill is taken care of.

But they miss generosity completely. So let's do a little bit of math. $30,000 give the first 10% is $3,000. This person is going to live on $27,000 in the Silicon Valley. How sacrificial is $3,000?

That's a lot isn't it? This person by God's blessing and grace makes $300,000. And by the way don't read into good person, bad person. These people both love God with all their heart. This just person makes less, this person makes more. They tithe and they give $30,000 the very first portion. But who's the most generous? I'm just going to go out on a limb. We have people from all kind of incomes.

I'm going to go on a limb and a number of you would say I could squeeze by on $270,000 a year here in the Silicon Valley. I mean it would be tough. We'll have to really get a budget.

But I'm going to figure out how to make it. Do you understand? What I want you to get is this jar represents yours but some jars are bigger than other jars. For people that have small jars, what they give and how they give it, God never measures the amount that you give. God measures the amount of the sacrifice. That's generosity. That's why when the widow would drop in the two small copper coins and the other people gave large gifts. He wasn't saying the large gifts were bad. In fact the temple couldn't run without the large gifts. He just was saying comparatively this woman has given more than them.

What were you going to say? Jesus your math is all wrong. No they gave this much and she gave this much. Why would Jesus say she gave more? Because it was a greater sacrifice. Generosity is the first and the best.

It's regular, it's systematic and it's proportional. So it's not like you pay a bill. You're on a journey as God blesses you more. You get to give more. You get to be involved more. You get to stretch. You get to love. You get to expand. I've had times where I was given more and then I had times where everything went down to here. And one of the most humbling times of my life was to say I used to be able to give this. Now I can only give this. It's proportional. Fourth characteristic of generous people is genuine generosity is sacrificial.

The same setting. Paul writes a lot about generosity in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and 9. He says now brothers we want you to know about the grace that our God has given the Macedonian church.

He's writing to the Corinthians and he's talking about the Macedonian church. He says out of their most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty it welled up in rich generosity. I underline those four things because I don't think we think about generosity coming out of that.

Do you? I'm going to be generous when there's an extreme trial. I'm going to be generous when I'm under it. I'm going to be generous when I don't have much at all. In fact poverty. He said what welled out of them was rich generosity. Now notice what he says. He says for I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability.

And then notice the motivation entirely on their own. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And the service he's talking about is over here these Jewish Christians there was a famine.

And they didn't have any food. And these Christians over here said Gentile Christians they were new Christians. And there used to be all this hostility but Christ broke that wall and they said we have and they don't have so we're going to share. See it's sacrificial.

It's like that widow. I came across an email that I want to share with you. This is maybe one of the greatest pictures of generosity I've ever seen in my life.

Let me read it to you. In fact it's close to home because it's a dear friend. He says ten years ago I stopped to have my car washed at this brand new car wash at 87 and Capitol. Couple friends Chuck and Patty and his wife had spent the last couple years developing the property.

It was a huge investment for them. As my car was being washed I went up to the office and just to say hello. After a brief chat and I was about to leave I asked Chuck hey what's your blood type? He said that's an odd question.

Why? He said well I need a kidney transplant. He said that's interesting and he said well I have the right blood type.

He said I think maybe God wants me to give you my kidney. I said don't make any quick decisions. Think about it. Pray about it. By the way I've got five or six brothers and sisters.

They're all being tested right now. Let's just see how it works out. The very next day I got a phone call. Chuck said Mike I'm your man. God told me to do this.

I want to do this. His only request was could we make sure we get this done before hunting season. I couldn't believe it. As it turned out all my siblings were eliminated for one reason or another. Chuck went through the testing. The results showed that it was a better match than anyone else. We had an operation. Chuck later gave us testimony about this experience several times. And importantly he's met with multiple kidney donors and recipients to encourage them to consider doing what he did. To date five different people have received a kidney and who knows how many indirectly because of Chuck's testimony. Even though they were unknowns. Even though he was just getting his business off the ground. He chose to be generous.

Consistently Chuck says this. It's the best thing I've ever done. I'm so thankful God allowed me to do it. Kind of raises the stakes on what it means to give doesn't it?

I mean most of us are sitting here depending on where you're at going. You know I think God really wants me to get my finances in order. And I got a lot of debt or you know gosh when he used that illustration about the 10% I've been giving 10% for 22 years. And I thought that was just God's and I would have to rethink my whole equation. And some guy was willing to lay on a table and let someone cut out half of what he owns. That from all I can tell kidneys are pretty important and we do have two but most of us want to have two. But he had a friend that didn't have any and he gave one of his two.

Are you starting to see when God sees that you know what the heart of God says? There's a generous man. There's a generous woman. There's a generous student. There's no give to get.

There's no formula. It's the heart of a father saying you know what he's treating his friend the way I feel about him. He's loving him and he's giving and he's caring and when God sees that in your heart as evidenced by your behavior.

Then God guess what he just he's a father. He just he just wants to give whatever you need. You need more time. You need more resources. You need a greater opportunity. You need more money. God has he has unlimited supply. But only right now about 2.8 to 3% of all the people who claim to be born again in America are willing to say I believe you to the point that I would pour out the first portion of even my income let alone my time and trust that your supernatural supply will meet all my needs.

And the theory goes well someday when I get enough or someday when things turn around or when I can get this or get that's not how it works. Out of their deep poverty and severe trial when he was starting a business when it was the last thing you wanted to do in the world was put your life at stake. That's sacrificial. That's generosity. The final characteristic of generosity is not simply the first and the best and not just systematically or proportional or sacrificial but genuine generosity is thoughtful voluntary and worshipful. Genuine generosity isn't just you know hearing a series or having a I call it a God moment and I've had him and I want to have more but where you just compelled and and you give and it sort of does this emotional thing you go wow. Genuine generosity isn't just thinking with your heart it's with your mind and it's an act of worship notice what Paul writes later in the same discussion with this church. He says I thought it was necessary to urge you brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift that you promised. So they said we want to help those those Jews that are really going through it and there's a famine and hey Paul last visit we're going to help him and Paul says hey I'm coming to collect the gift. And so he says that I I'm going to come early and I just want to warn you kind of give you a little heads up so to be ready as a generous gift and not grudgingly.

Because Paul knows human nature. I mean I don't know about you but I've made commitments and I prayed about it and God showed me and I made it at the right moment when I was really in fellowship with God and then it came around time to give the gift and I'm going oh. You know maybe I didn't really hear God maybe maybe we could delay right don't you all do this stuff and so Paul knows that's what's happening so he says hey let me just I want it to be right from the heart so little heads up I'll be there who knows a couple weeks. And then he gives them this thoughtful suggestion he says remember this as you're sort of weighing in the balance about being faithful to what you said. Whoever sows sparingly reaps also sparingly and whoever sows generously will reap also generously and so it's an agricultural world he just brings them back like farmers because look you know if you put five seeds in the ground that you can have five stocks come up. You put five thousand seeds in the ground you have five thousand stocks on each stock to be hundreds if not thousands of other seeds so if you so a little little comes back if you so a lot so he's getting it's thoughtful. But notice then it's voluntary and worshipful he goes each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful or literally a hilarious giver.

It's thoughtful it's based on the law of harvest it's voluntary it's not compulsive or manipulative and it's worshipful it brings joy to God's heart. Chip will be back in just a minute with his application you've been listening to the first part of his message why God prospers generous people from his series The Genius of Generosity. In this insightful teaching Chip helps us understand that being generous is more than making thoughtful financial decisions.

It's following a completely different lifestyle and if we do that we'll dramatically improve our relationships with God and others. Stay with us as we learn some simple practices to be both wise in our giving and generous in how we live our lives. To get more plugged in with this series and our resources visit livingontheedge.org that's livingontheedge.org.

Well Chip's joined me in studio now to share a quick word. Thanks so much Dave. Before I come back and talk about today's message I just want to tell you how encouraged I am by the extraordinary generosity. First of those who gave to create this match build that every single dollar up until tomorrow night at midnight will be doubled dollar for dollar. And I just want to thank those of you who've already given. It has been amazing to see how generous you have been and what it's going to allow us to do not just to finish this year out but to do the kind of things we've talked about all year. For those of you that have been intending and I know there's a lot of you that yes I'm going to I know you get busy. Just a reminder tomorrow is the last day that your gift will be doubled dollar for dollar.

So make sure you get it in the mail and postmark on December 31st or go online and give before midnight December 31st so that we can make sure that the gift that you give gets matched. Thanks so much in advance for whatever God leads you to do. Well to those of you who have already given thank you. Your generosity is impacting countless lives. But for those who aren't yet on the team we'd love to have you join us. Your financial support will help us encourage pastors all around the globe.

Effectively disciple this next generation and motivate Christians to really live like Christians. So if you'd like to be a part of that work let me encourage you to give a gift between now and tomorrow December 31st and it'll be matched dollar for dollar. Go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003.

That number again is 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners just tap donate. Well with all that said Chip let's hear that application you promised.

As we wrap up today's program I want to ask you a question that I actually asked you earlier in the program. And I ask you are you a generous person? And I did a little survey and about 8 out of 10 or 9 out of 10 people whether they're Christians or not if you ask them are you a generous person they say yes. And so when you listen to oh God prospers generous people most of us think oh good because I feel like I'm generous. And if you listen carefully to today's teaching the scripture is really clear God says this is what makes a generous person. From his perspective we're only generous when we give the first and the best to God. I mean off the top we're generous when we're giving systematically not not emotionally not just when we feel like it. We're generous when we're giving proportionally in other words if God gives us more we continue to give more. We're generous when we're doing it sacrificially and we're doing it with the right heart and attitude voluntarily.

So here's what I want you to hear. I want you to really ask yourself from God's perspective are you generous? Do you give the first and the best? Do you tithe? Do you give systematically?

Do you give off the top or do you give what's left over? Because when you do what God says the promises emotional happiness spiritual holiness and as a general rule he blesses our finances. Of course it's never a give to get but God says this is how he operates. My challenge to you is to be a generous person not by how you feel but according to the Word of God and what he says.

Because his promise is to bless and prosper that kind of person and I don't want you to miss that and neither does he. Thanks Chip. Well just before we close I want to remind you one last time about our end of year match that's going on right now. Every gift we receive between now and midnight tomorrow December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar. To support us let me encourage you to go to LivingOnTheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or go to LivingOnTheEdge.org. App listeners tap donate. Until next time this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-30 18:49:14 / 2022-12-30 19:01:27 / 12

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