Did you know that the happiest, healthiest, and most fulfilled people in the world all have one thing in common? Today we're going to learn what that is and how we can make it a part of our lives.
Stay with me. In just a minute Chip will identify 10 reasons why having a generous heart isn't just wise, but can lead to a more exciting and fulfilling life. And to get the absolute most out of Chip's teaching, download his message notes. They contain his outline, scripture references, and key fill-ins to help you remember and apply what you hear.
To download them, go to the broadcasts tab at livingontheedge.org, app listeners tap fill in notes. Okay with all that said, let's join Chip now to begin his series with his message, Understanding the Journey. So I was a brand new pastor, super nervous. It was my first Easter and so we knew that the little church at 35 would probably mushroom to 50 people.
And I was just, I mean beside myself, I couldn't sleep all night and I'd worked on the message and it still wasn't very good. So I went into the office about 4 a.m. and 5.30 or so the sun was coming up and probably wasn't a really good plan, but I so wanted to do a good job. And then across the street was a small African American church where we've made some friends. And I heard a car door slam and I thought it's dawned, I wonder what's going on. And I saw a yellow bright Cadillac pull up and then I saw a man that I recognized who was the chairman of our board.
He's a guy who came to Christ late, his name was John. And I watched he and his wife got out in the pre-dawn hours and all along there was all these steps, probably 25 steps and they put baskets of fruit. And all kind of different things all across and then a little bit later those people came to church. And it was, well my land, who brought this, did you do this sister? And they can't figure out what's going on. And I just watched it grow and grow and grow and then people came over and said, well did you all do this?
Where did this come from? And people were just so excited and blessed. And pretty soon they're picking it up and sharing it with one another.
And I never, I dared not say a word and of course I never told John, I saw who did it. Generosity going out of our way to love people is at the heart of worship. Jesus said it was more blessed to give than to receive. I don't think you turn on a faucet and you become generous overnight.
And so I want to ask and answer five questions. Because what I realized when I grew up, if you would have asked me am I generous, I think I would have said yes. And yet when I look back I don't think I was generous at all.
Because I didn't understand it. And so first let's ask question number one is what's it mean to be generous? A definition, this is Webster's, it's showing a readiness to freely give or share money or other valuable things.
Notice providing more than the amount needed or normal. It's giving in abundance, ample, showing kindness and concern for others. And sometimes you know when you get a definition I like to ask so what are, get your arms around it, what are some synonyms? People that are generous or liberal, lavish, magnanimous, open handed, free handed, bountiful, unselfish, ungrudging, benevolent, charitable, big hearted, free, noble, honorable, good. I don't know about you, I would love to have some people drinking coffee and talking about me and using just some of those words, wouldn't you? I mean aren't those the kind of words you would just long for someone to say oh man she's so big hearted, they're so magnanimous, they're so generous, they're so unselfish. Another way to get your arms around a concept is to ask so what's the opposite, antonyms. The opposite of being generous is mean, stingy, selfish, meager, miserly, unwilling to share, cheap, greedy, tight, unkind, thrift and self-seeking. Now you don't need to raise your hand, anybody like that to be how people would characterize you?
Right, I mean that is ugly, right? So here's what I want you to get, we all have thoughts and words and time and stuff and money and influence to share with others. You don't have to be rich to be generous, in fact the research tells us that the poorest people are far more generous than the wealthiest people. We all have words, we all have positive thoughts, we all have time, we all have some level of money, we all have some influence and to be generous is to be ready and willing to share, to be kind, to be concerned for others.
Now I'm gonna do something that's really dangerous for me. I'm gonna give you 10 specific reasons both biblically and one scientific fact of why being generous is so absolutely important, it's important for your relationships, it's important for your eternity, it's important for your relationship with God, it's important about your money, it's important about your friendships and I'm gonna give you 10 reasons but what I want you to see is to step back and go wow. The Bible says a lot about being generous, in fact common sense says a lot about it but why is it so important to live generously, number one, generosity is commanded by God. The apostle Paul will write, instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches but on God who richly supplies us, notice, with all things to enjoy.
In other words he's saying hey instruct people that are wealthy and by the way in the context historically if you had enough food both for today and tomorrow you were wealthy. Most people would go to work and then that's why if you didn't pay people their wages they wouldn't eat that night and then notice he goes on, he says instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, to be ready to share, notice the focus, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future so they can take hold of the life which is life indeed or literally the word is so they can take hold of the life that is truly life. So if for no other reason God commands us to be generous so we invest in what's gonna count so we can take hold of life and we can store up treasure for ourselves. Second generosity is the antidote to idolatry in your notes it says Luke 1 through 15 it's the story of the unrighteous steward and at the end of it Jesus said you can't serve God and mammon, God and money and so he tells them generosity can break idolatry in our lives. Third generosity today determines the harvest for tomorrow all through scripture, Old Testament, New Testament, the Proverbs there's this picture of sowing and reaping and it's an agricultural picture.
Jesus would say in Luke 6 38 give and it'll be given unto you good measure press down shaken together running over back into your lap for whatever size measure that you give it'll be given back unto you. Paul would say in second Corinthians, he would say this now this I say he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap also bountifully each one must do his purpose in his heart, not grudgingly for God loves a cheerful giver. All I want you to know is think of your time and your words and your money and your influence like seeds and if you plant a lot of them there's a harvest and if you plant good ones and there's a harvest if you plant just a few you get a few back. And so there's this law of reciprocity in scripture that your future relationships your future connection your future positivity if you will and I don't mean that in the thing you know positive and wonderful things happen. I'm talking about there's a law of sowing and reaping with your time your energy your words and your money. And if you sow the Bible is really clear there's a harvest fourth it's the way generosity expresses God's love and kindness to others.
Let your light so shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your father who's in heaven. The cow or the child that gets pulled out of the sex trade the kindness at work that the school that gets remodeled just the generosity is how you express God's love fifth is generosity results enjoy to the giver and six generosity results in praise and thanksgiving to God by the recipients. Second Corinthians it says you will be enriched in every way and generous in every way which through us will produce thanksgiving to God for the ministry of this service speaking of giving is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but also overflowing and thanksgiving to God. So there's this weird thing that happens when you're generous, there's a joy that you experience, but as you're generous to this person. It's like the people who had those baskets of fruit. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.
I didn't have any food. John got the joy of giving, but they thanked and praise God and that's what happens. Reason number seven. Generosity is God's method to fund his kingdom work. First Corinthians 16 says that on the first day of the week, each Christian should set aside money from whether it's a little or a lot depending on what God gave you to support God's kingdom work. Number eight generosity requires us to put our finances and our priorities in order. It's interesting if you give God the first and the best, instead of what's left over, then sometimes you got to get on a budget and sometimes you have to figure out, wait a second, we're going to offer ourselves first to God. Here's his promise, seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things and in the context, it's food, shelter, clothes, whatever you need, they'll be given to you. The ninth reason generosity is important, it grows our faith and develops our intimacy with Christ. As you study the Sermon on the Mount, it's so interesting as he talks about walking with God and then he talks about giving and giving privately and praying privately, he gives this radical thought, when your father, that was a radical thought then, when your father sees what you do in secret, he will reward you. Generosity is one of the ways that your heart and God's heart because he's generous and when you become the conduit, he actually draws you to himself.
You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Before we hear the rest of Chip's message, let me remind you that we are a listener supported ministry. Your financial gifts help us create this program, develop new resources and encourage pastors globally. Prayerfully consider supporting us today, then go to livingontheedge.org to give a gift.
Thanks so much for your help. Well, here again is Chip. Number nine, generosity grows our faith and develops our intimacy with Christ. And then number 10, generosity is a prerequisite to claiming God's promise to meet all our needs. That promise is for people who are generous with their resources.
And so those are just 10 reasons just from scripture. Dr. Stephen Post did a longitudinal study. He picked it up from a group that started the study in 1920. And so he did a study to find out what was the impact of generous people. The impact of generous people habitually were generous, they are happier, they have deeper relationships and they literally live longer. Is that amazing?
I guess it's not. I mean, if God designed us and wired us and if his kingdom practices and purposes because he's generous is he wants us to be generous and it gives us life when we're generous. It only makes sense that when we're miserly and living to the opposite of the way God wants, it would have negative impact and it has positive impact. In fact, the research now is when we're generous and when we give, even the same endorphins that go off when you're working out really hard, or like when you eat food or when you have sex, the same things are happening in your brain when you're a giver. God literally has wired us to be generous people. And here's the amazing thing, that may be true, but it doesn't come naturally, does it? I mean, whether it's two little kids or two older people, you know, left to ourselves if there's only one of something and there's two people, you know, sometimes we're polite about it, but your human nature and my human nature is I want that for me.
I want more time, I want things for me. And so all I want you to know, it's a journey in generosity. Now, logically, if all these things are true, and I think they are, they're true practically, they're true scientifically, they're certainly true biblically, here's the summary. Living generously is the most logical, wise, and rewarding way to arrange our lives and resources. So pause, okay?
I'm done with my quick run through the Bible. Living generously, lean back, lean back, look at me for a second, is the most logical, wisest, rewarding way to arrange your life and resources. At least intellectually, would you sign off on that? Right? Your relationships would be better.
Idols come down. You're arranging your finances. As you give, you know, when you give away friendship, you get friends. When you give love, you get love back. When you give away money, God multiplies it.
So here's the question. If generosity is this good, it's designed by God, and it's even commanded, why are so few Christians generous? Do you know of all the Christians in America, that 50% of all Christians give nothing to their church, give nothing to any charitable cause? Of all the Christians in America, only 3-5% give what's called a tithe, or 10% of their income.
Think of that. I mean, we'll talk about that as we go on, but long before there was a law, Abraham gives to Melchizedek 10% just as an offering to say thank you, and then that was a part of the Mosaic law. When the harvest would come in, when the first grapes came, or the first wheat, they'd just take the first 10% as an offering to say thank you, and then later, at the very end of the harvest, they would bring 10% when it's all full to say thank you. It was just a personal offering. I did a little research once. This is a completely unscientific, anecdotal, but it's been repeatable. I've done this a couple of times.
I go to a mall, or try not to act too weird, and I have a little clipboard, and I act like I'm taking a survey, and I've gone and I've just asked people, Excuse me, sir, would you consider, hey, what are you doing? Just one question, just yes or no. Would you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no. Excuse me, ma'am, would you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no.
You know what comes out every time? 80%. I don't know whether people were Christians or non-Christians, but I can tell you that 80% of all the people that you ever meet, probably including the person sitting in your seat, we think we're generous. We do. And that presents a problem, because if we think we're generous, but we're really not, then we're not sort of asking God to help us be more generous or learning how to be generous, correct? So we're going to go on a journey of generosity. And some of you, just lighten up, okay? There's no big ask coming.
There's no big project coming. You know what I want you to get? I want you to experience the joy of generosity. I want the kindness and the love of God to start trickling in your families. I want your neighborhoods to say, what happened to Joe?
What happened to Mary? I want people at your work going, what in the world are you learning at that church? You're bringing us coffee here. You signed up for extra work here. You took care of me here. How come you're being nice to me now?
You've forgiven me over there. Because generous people change the world. The most generous person in the world was Jesus. He gave his life. Actually, he's the second most generous person. As difficult as that was, the Father gave his son.
And the Holy Spirit and the Godhead together came and just said, we love you all. So if you want to learn to be generous, this is, if you're expecting a guilt trip and a lot of statistics and get with the program and why don't you give more, sorry. At best, I can pump you up for two weeks and you'll fall right back to your old way of thinking. I want you to learn how to experience generosity and it just gets birthed inside your heart where you'll get so excited, you'll start saying, you know, are we going overboard on this? And what you'll learn is you can't go overboard. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and you've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Understanding the Journey, from our series, Living Generously.
Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. Generosity and considering others' needs above our own are not ideas that come naturally to anyone. So how can we become more giving people? Well, in this short series, Chip looks at Jesus' teaching on money and stewardship and reveals the roadmap to having a more generous, people-centered mindset. Discover how to develop an unselfish and giving spirit. To learn more about this series, visit LivingOnTheEdge.org. Well, Chip's joined me in studio now, and Chip, as we begin this series about generosity, take a minute and share where this teaching came from and explain why this topic in particular is so important for believers to grasp.
I'd love to, Dave. Growing up, just because of my background, I really thought the only people that could be generous would be mega wealthy people or like super holy people. And I completely missed that it's the most logical, it's the wisest, it's the most rewarding.
At the top of the program, I talked about it. There's amazing research that says that generous people actually have a stronger immune system, generous people are happier, generous people have much more positive relationships. So I think there's a lot of confusion about what it means to be generous, and this is a little series that's super practical because generosity scripturally is at the core of experiencing God's joy, and it's at the very center of loving people. And I just can't think of anything that's going to be more winsome, more encouraging, and I mean just practical to help people experience more of God and express His love for other people. Well, I hope you'll join us for every part of this series. And because of how universal this topic is for every believer, let me encourage you to invite a few friends to listen with you, either through the Chip Ingram app or at LivingOnTheEdge.org.
And Chip, one more thing before we get to your application. Many of our listeners know that we're passionate about seeing Christians all over the world living like Christians. And to that end, we've come up with a simple path believers can follow to live God-honoring lives.
That's right, Dave. You know, I've pastored for many years, and what I've learned is that so many people want to grow. They want to become more like Christ.
They want to be a better dad, a better mom, a person who's single that really lives a life, but they don't know the path. And over the years, what I've developed is a little acronym called BIO, B-I-O. The B represents coming before God daily. The I is doing life in community weekly, and the O is being on mission 24-7.
And so I can just tell you that if you want to change, it's not about trying harder. It's about really seeing who God is. It's about connecting with Him. When you come before God and you experience His presence and you see Him for who He is, He does something from the inside out that changes our life. And so we have three specific resources right now to help you learn to come before God so that you can grow to know who He really is. The first is a book called The True Spirituality, Becoming a Romans 12 Christian. The second is called The Real God. It's a perspective of high, holy view of God, but it's kind of in a very practical way where you can get your arms around what's it mean that He's loving or kind or just or holy, and what does that mean to you? And finally, we have a prayer journal that helps you track your journey with the Lord as He speaks to you.
The Real God, a prayer journal, and true spirituality, these tools can help you or the people that you love draw near to God and have a pathway for intimacy. That's absolutely right, Chip. To get your hands on this three-book bundle, go to SpecialOffersAtLivingOnTheEdge.org or the Chip Ingram app. And if you'd like to gift any of these resources for Christmas, place your order by December 13th to receive it in time. Again, to get our Before God bundle, go to SpecialOffersAtLivingOnTheEdge.org or on the Chip Ingram app.
Okay, Chip, let's get to that helpful application we've been talking about. As I wrap up today's program, I kind of flew through some of these very practical, some were relational, some were spiritual, some were actually even physical reasons why generosity is so smart. You know, I always think of generosity as something that's genius. You know, the world has created a system that says get, get, get, keep, keep, keep, hoard, hoard, hoard, because something bad might happen and you have to take care of you. And Jesus says the kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom.
That means it's counterintuitive. And so what He teaches us, and then it plays out in every area, that being generous, giving, caring, sharing, every aspect, your time, your money, your talent, it just is amazing that it's the wisest, most logical, beneficial way to live. So here's some quick, quick reasons why being generous is so smart. One, it's commanded by God. Two, it's the antidote to idolatry. In other words, it protects us. It determines tomorrow's harvest in your life. It expresses God's love and kindness in practical and powerful ways. It results in joy to the giver and thanksgiving and blessing to the receiver.
It requires us to realign our priorities and our finances. It causes our faith to grow. It allows us to get more intimate in our relationship with Christ.
And it's the prerequisite for experiencing a lot of God's promises. All I want you to know is that people that are habitually generous have a life that's really life. Thanks for the encouragement, Chip. As we close, if you're looking for good Bible content, check out the Chip Ingram app. You can listen to our most recent series or sign up for Daily Discipleship with Chip, a great resource to help you study God's Word at a deeper level. We want you to grow in your walk with Jesus, and the Chip Ingram app will help you do just that. We'll join us next time as Chip continues his series, Living Generously. Until then, I'm Dave Druey, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge. .
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