Why is it that some people seem to prosper and others don't? You know those people that just seem God's favor in His hand upon them and their children and their business and their work and even when they go through really difficult times they have this almost weird contentment. What's the common denominator of these people who God prospers?
Want to find out? Stick around. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.
Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. We're in the middle of our series, The Genius of Generosity. Today Chip reveals that being generous is actually the smartest way to live.
He's got the evidence to back it up. Let's learn more about that now as we join Chip for part two of his message, Why God Prospers Generous People. 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, 10 years ago I stopped to have my car washed at this brand new car wash at 87 Capital. Couple of friends, Chuck and Patty's wife had spent the last couple of years developing the property.
It was a huge investment for them. As my car was being washed, I went up to the office 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, and 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've got a lot of debt, or, you know, gosh, when he used that illustration about the 10 percent, I've been giving 10 percent 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. From all I can tell, kidneys are pretty important, and we do have two, 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, 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 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 percent 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, and 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 he 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 them and I want to have more, but where you just compelled and you give and it sort of does this emotional thing, you go, wow. See, 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 Jews that are really going through it and there's a famine, and hey, Paul, last visit, we're going to help them, and Paul says, hey, I'm coming to collect the gift. And so he says, then I'm going to come early and I just want to warn you and kind of give you a little heads up so it'll 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 a 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 of 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. He goes, look, you know, if you put five seeds in the ground, you're going to have five stalks come up. You put 5,000 seeds in the ground, you have 5,000 stalks and on each stalk there'll be hundreds if not thousands of other seeds. So if you sow a little, a little comes back.
If you sow a lot. So he's getting to, 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. I don't know if you've ever been to a fundraising event by a really good Christian organization before but if not, I hope you go to one someday. A number of years ago I was invited to one and the presentations often go like this and I've actually given these so there's no criticism whatsoever. I thought it was really great. They showed a film of the great work. I believed in the work. That's why I went.
I had supported him financially in the past. I think the head of the organization gave a short but powerful speech about the impact of the organization and I was sitting there just thinking about how much stretch, how much risk, how much could I give and then a guy came up who was sort of the emcee and he was a little slicker than I liked. You ever been in one of those meetings where someone's just a little too, I don't know what you call it but just slick.
And so then he came back up and he said, and now it's that time where we all get to be a part of. You know that sort of smiley thing that's making me a little crazy. He goes, will you please take the envelopes from the middle and get them around the table. Like this, you know. And now I don't want anyone to do anything but please pull out a pen. Will you, before we even make any decision, write and fill out your name. And I'm watching everyone look around like, you know, I want to give and I'm not so sure about this deal.
No, please, please. And you know, he created an atmosphere of peer pressure where you felt like a dummy if you didn't do what he said. And he was very good at it. And so we fill it out. Now, notice there's box number two, box number three, box number four. Can you give the big and all of a sudden a little light went on. And I liked this organization and I'd given to him before. And I was sitting there and I just realized this guy was trying to manipulate and if whatever I was going to give, I was going to give out a compulsion. And I felt guilty about it. And I felt, and I looked at everybody else.
And I don't know if it was a holy spirit sort of combined with a little bit of boldness. And I just got up and excused myself. And I took my envelope and I had it in my, it was one of those where you dress up. So I actually do have a suit. I wore the suit that time.
And I put it in my coat jacket and I went into the men's restroom, washed my hands, put out the envelope, tore it in half, dropped it in the trash and left. And I suggest to you that whenever or wherever you feel like people are trying to manipulate or there's compulsion or there's agenda to try to get your money to get you to give to something that you might follow that example. Generosity is a matter from the heart. It's an act of worship. Money needs to be raised for the kingdom of God, but it needs to be raised in a way where the vision is cast, the needs are made known as God leads and people's heart alignment with the integrity of what's going on. And he moves people by the power of the holy spirit and it is an act of worship. When God sees people who give the first and the best, that's regular, systematic, proportional, sacrificial and thoughtful, voluntary and it's an act of worship.
From heaven he says, this child of mine is generous and every promise that we read applies to that person. Fact number one, God blesses generous people. Fact number two, God gives us clear criteria to know whether you're generous or not. Fact number three is our breakthrough concept. Generosity, breakthrough concept number three is God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. I got that from Randy Alcorn. It's in a little book called The Treasure Principle.
You'll see the notes on the bottom. That's a great line. God prospers me to raise my standard of giving, not just my standard of living. When I was in seminary I had this kind of unusual job because I had very few hours and I had to figure out in very few hours how to support my family. I took a number of tests and got a license to sell a couple things and also some investments. I went all over and I sold. I had about three or four hours a night and I could do this three or four nights a week and make a thousand dollars a month and that's what I needed to live on. I sold to people that had low incomes and then I remember going out to North Dallas, very exclusive area, and middle incomes and then very high incomes. I remember sitting across the kitchen table from a man and he had the picture of the very latest Porsche and he was telling me, now that's what I'm going to get. It was a huge, beautiful house. I laid out the presentation.
It was pretty much a no-brainer. I could take this money and put it over here. We can invest the difference over here. He looked at me and said, that is really great.
I'd love to do it. I just can't afford it. Help me because I grew up kind of naïve. I grew up thinking that if you had really nice cars and a really nice house and a really nice job, you had money.
Here's what I learned in that three years that I did that job. People who made this little window of money spent just a little bit more than that window. Then people who made this amount of money, like three times that, they spent just a little bit more than that window.
Then I met with people that had made this kind of money and you know what they did? They found out they needed other things and the toys got more expensive and the trips got more expensive and the extra this and that. They spent more.
He couldn't afford it. See, the unconscious assumption that we operate on is when we're prospered by God and He gives us more, we just think it means a bigger, nicer, better. He gives us more.
Well, that means bigger, nicer, better. Now, you should enjoy the bigger, nicer, better when that's God's will. But listen to what the Apostle Paul says. He says, God is able, 2 Corinthians 9, verses 8 and 9, he continues the story. God is able to make all grace abound to you.
Why? So that in all things, at all times, having all you need, you can abound in every good work. In other words, God wants to bless, bless, bless. There's a pump. There's a pump. There's a pump.
There's a pump. As you take these steps and pour it out, all grace at all times to abound in every good work. This isn't financial.
This is your whole life. Then notice what he says. As it's written, he scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever. Now he, speaking of God, who gives 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. And so he's got this agricultural picture. God provides the seed, the original, great, okay. He provides it some of the seed.
What happens after the harvest is you eat it, turn it into food and bread. And then he gives you extra, abundance, more than you need so that you can reinvest it in the next year's harvest. He says that's the picture I want you to understand.
When God gives you more than you need, he gives you more than you need so if there's people that have needs over here, God's purposes over here, he could flow it through you to help them. Then notice what he says. You will be made rich.
And then underline the next line, will you? In every way. Not your finances. It may be finances, but you'll be made rich when you operate this way.
First, regular, voluntary, loving, kind, from the heart. He says you'll be made rich in every way. Then put a little box around so that. God increases or prospers your life to make you rich in every way so that, and read it. What's it say? So you can be what? Win.
So you can be generous on every occasion. Then look at the spiritual result. Look what happens here. And through your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Do you see the circle? You take this step of faith and you say, oh God, you know what? It's a little hard financially right now.
I don't have very much time right now. Boy, my talent and treasure, I need to just invest. By faith. Okay, these instructions, if they're true, it's great.
If they're not, I'm in trouble. By faith, Lord, here's my first, my best, my regular, my systematic, from the heart, loving people. God has not prospered you to raise your standard of living, but to raise your standard of giving. Fact number four is the key to becoming habitually generous and experience habitual happiness. Are you ready for this? F-A-I-T-H. It's faith.
Right? See, at the end of the day, either all those verses we read, in fact number one, are true or false. Your behavior and my behavior along the criteria is just a very simple test where you can now know whether you're generous or not. If you can answer yes to those five things, you're generous, and as you do that, God will meet your needs. If you say no, I want you to know that God is far more interested in your soul than any of your finances or your time. And one of the loving things God does to get our attention and why Jesus talks so much about finances was He can really get us praying and thinking and reevaluating relationships and time and priorities and who's the Lord of your life when you're under financial pressure, right? And so at some point in time, you declare and you say, Lord, I believe. Help me in my own belief.
Lord, I'm afraid to step out and trust you. My life's so busy to give time to serve, to love. It just is so counterintuitive, but I'm gonna do it.
And then you start to experience supernatural things. Faith says, refuse to chase the wind, and this is why a lot of us don't take the step of faith. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2.11, yet when I surveyed all my hands had done and what I toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Nothing was gained under the sun. This is a man that had the palaces, the women, the money, anything his heart's desired and what he says is, if accumulation, if prestige, if power, if stuff, if things could bring me security and significance and happiness and meaning and purpose, I've done it all. But the people that have the most stuff, the people that have achieved the highest peaks often find themselves empty and lonely and discouraged and a lot like Scrooge.
Because at the end of the day, it's your relationship with God and your relationship with people that matter. And so I would say, refuse to chase the wind. Refuse to live out of control lives.
Refuse to work 70 and 80 hours. Just refuse it. What really matters? And what happens is when you make some decisions about your finances, pretty soon you gotta budget your money and budget your time and make some hard decisions and you'll see God provide. Second on the balancing side is faith says enjoy God's provision. I think when people start talking about generosity and the word stewardship, you start thinking, well, okay, I'm never gonna have anything nice and I'm never gonna get to enjoy life and I'll never go on a good vacation and anything nice you have, oh, you know, gosh, I should tell people that I got this Lexus on sale and you know, that swimming pool, it was just for baptisms. We really didn't want a swimming pool, you know, and you know, that trip, you know, when we went down, you know, to Mexico and great and took everyone with us and it was so fun, it was really great. Well, it was really a missionary trip in the Hyatt.
There's a lot of up and outers that we really wanna reach. You know what the Bible says? Instruct or command those, 1 Timothy 6, 17 to 19. Instruct or command those that are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches but to fix their hope on God and get underlined in your Bible somewhere the next line.
Who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. If your priorities are right and you're a generous person, you just drive that Lexus and have fun, okay? If you love a pool and your priorities are right and he gives you a pool, you know what, get in it. Invite your friends, have some fun.
If you can go on a nice vacation, enjoy it. But if those things are in your life and those five things aren't, then the person you're worshiping is you, not God. And who you're trusting to bring significance and fulfillment and joy and satisfaction is a lot of little idols instead of the king of the universe. And you'll come up empty.
And that's why he says instruct them or command them. Don't put your stuff there, don't chase the wind but as I give to you, enjoy it. You just might find he, when God finds people he can pass things through, he often blesses them greatly. And the closer you get to him, what they'll tell you is money is the smallest of the blessings. What's a rich marriage worth? What's a great relationship with your kids worth?
What's a friendship that's heart to heart worth? Faith says God rewards those who step out and trust him. You want to please God being religious, keeping the rules, even giving quote money or time that is sort of all in the safe zone? Here's what God says, Hebrews 11, 6. Without faith, it's not hard, it's impossible to please God.
Think of that. You see the highest compliment you ever give to God is this, Lord, this is very limited, this is me. But I believe that as I would give and trust my limited, you my father have unlimited.
I believe it to the point of here's the best of my time, here's the best of my money, here's the best of my talent, here's the concern for this person that doesn't have room in my schedule but I'm giving it to them and I believe that whatever I need you'll take care of me. When God sees that, notice what the end of the verse says, it's impossible to please God. For those who come to God must do two things, believe he exists and he's a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. God wants to bless, he's a blesser, he's generous, he wants.
Here's what he says, be smart. You can either live outside of the resources in that little jar or you can trust me and you can tap into the unlimited resources I have for your good and my glory. Chip will be right back with his application for this message, Why God Prosper's 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 and Chip in the series, you've really exposed Satan's lie that so many people have bought into, that if I'm really generous, then I won't have enough or if I give, I'm going to feel short-changed somehow. Would you take a minute and unpack the danger of that lie and then talk about our resource that we have that can change our perspective? Well, Dave, let me tell you, I think that lie has kept people from experiencing God's fullness and his grace and his power in their life. But behind that lie really is that God isn't generous, that he doesn't want to bless, that if I give of my time or if I give of my money or even if I give of my friendship and my energy, there won't be enough left over for me.
And the fact of the matter is that's the law of the flesh, not the law of the kingdom. Our God is good and kind. He's a son and a shield. He gives grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. And what I've learned is that this kingdom principle that as we give, as we are more and more like him and as we release and give and share, he just keeps filling up our life and our heart and even our bank accounts so that we can give to others. Now, it's never a give to get, and it doesn't mean your life is going to work out just perfect. But I can tell you this, that when people are generous, when you begin to have your antenna up looking for opportunities to love and to care and to share, it can be as simple as buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you or seeing the homeless person and instead of feeling guilty, you walk in the restaurant, you don't give him money, you're not sure where it's going to go, and you buy him a hamburger or buy him one of those little breakfast sandwiches, and you walk out and sit next to him and you give it to him and sit with five or ten minutes. And I will tell you what, your heart and your life absolutely changes. And this little book, The Genius of Generosity, that I've had the privilege of writing, is short, only a hundred pages.
It's only five by seven with a beautiful little leatherette cover. And what it allows you to do is get your mind and your heart thinking the way God thinks about generosity. And what you begin to grasp is that God has unlimited, unlimited resource, money, energy, time, and He's just looking for a man or a woman like you that He can pour it through.
That's a great point, Chip. And to help all of you better understand what it means to be generous in God's eyes, we'd like to give you two of these books, one for you and one for someone else at no cost. Just go to the Special Offers tab at LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. Our hope is that you and your spouse or a close friend will read this book together and then put these principles of generosity into practice. To request your two copies of The Genius of Generosity, visit the Special Offers tab at LivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app.
This is a limited-time offer, one order per customer, while supplies last. We'll hear again as Chip with a few final thoughts that he'd like to share. As we close today's program, there's a lot of bad teaching when it comes to money, and a lot of the bad teaching has to do with ulterior motives and promising people outlandish things if they give to certain ministries or certain churches. But in the midst of all of that, we've got to be very careful. God prospers generous people.
We can't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The fact of the matter is, when we are generous with our time, our talent, our treasure, when we take steps of faith, that's what we learned. Giving money, giving time, is us saying it's not our time, but it's even bigger than that.
It's somehow, God, I'm going to give you the very first portion. Ten percent is a great place to start, and I encourage you to start at your local church. When we do that, then, Lord, how will you supernaturally provide for all my needs with only 90 percent of my income? For some of us, you begin to grow and you realize we could probably live on less, and then God prospers you as He sees your heart. Then you can give well beyond ten percent, and then He just continues to prosper.
That prosperity isn't a quid quo pro. It's not, if you give that, He'll do that. I've seen God heal marriages and restore kids and do things that are so far beyond anything financially. But I want you to understand, this is a principle in Scripture. God prospers generous people, but generosity requires faith.
That means there's risk. It requires that you give the very first to God, you give the very best to God, and you give it sacrificially. In fact, one of the great things that I learned in my life was God doesn't measure my generosity by the amount of the gift. It's by the amount of the sacrifice. Can I ask you, what would the Lord have you sacrifice this season to really make a difference in the lives of others?
Great challenge, Chip. Just before we close, I want you to know that as a staff, we ask the Lord to help you take whatever your next faith step is. Now, if there's a way that we can help, we'd love to do that. Maybe give us a call at 888-333-6003, or connect with us at livingontheedge.org. And while you're there, look through our resources on a variety of topics, many of them absolutely free. Well, from all of us here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-02 13:52:09 / 2023-01-02 14:04:06 / 12