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The Generosity Of God (Part One) – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2023 1:00 am

The Generosity Of God (Part One) – 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 27, 2023 1:00 am

Why are we so sensitive about the matter of money and giving to the church? As Christians, God intends for us to be free in our generosity. In this message from 2 Corinthians 8, Pastor Lutzer identifies the motivation for God’s people to be generous. What’s the gift we must receive before we can give at all?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In our current study, we're learning that giving is a matter of appreciation, and according to 2 Corinthians 8, giving is proof of our salvation. Our topic is The Generosity of God, and why that generosity impels us to be generous in turn. Today, the gift we must receive before we can give at all. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, in my own journey, I'm realizing that having a grateful heart is proof that God is doing a genuine work in me. And the reason for that, Dave, is because we by nature love money, and parting with that money can be very difficult. But when we begin to love God, we become a generous people. And it's so important for us to realize that because God has been generous with us, we, of course, desire then, as you pointed out, to be generous with others. Even as we think about generosity, I want to thank the many people who support the ministry of Running to Win.

Thanks to people just like you, just speaking about our English audience, we're heard in most of India, much of Nigeria, South Africa, not to mention the fact that Running to Win is in five different languages, in perhaps as many as 40 countries. Thank you so much. And as you think about your giving at the end of the year, would you pray about supporting this ministry? Here's what you do. Go to

That's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Remember, God has been generous with us. Let us be generous for others.

Listen to me. We can only begin to use our imaginations to know what that glory was like. It was brilliance. It was filled with honor and worship. And of course, we see a little bit of it in the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah where Isaiah is falling before the Lord, who is there in a blaze of glory. And that, by the way, was Jesus, the Bible says. So we see that he was rich in honor. He was rich in authority. All created creatures. And of course, at first it was just angels, but then demonic spirits who fell. All of them are subject to him and have to give an account to him. Everyone, ultimately accountable to Jesus Christ.

And he was also rich in relationships. You know, sometimes the impression is given that God was kind of lonely, and then he decided to create us so that we also might be able to have fellowship with him, and in this fellowship, God finally has some companionship. The Bible says in Acts 17, God had need of nothing.

Why? Because of the Trinity. We can't explore this today because it would take time, but the Trinity has an intertrinitarian relationship. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, it was one of love. It was a relationship of mutual respect. It was a relationship that was fulfilling to God, and he had need of nothing. He decided to create us simply because of the overflow of what he intended to accomplish, that God existed in complete satisfaction and happiness, and that was Jesus in his riches. Try to grasp it. We can't, but we can try. Well, you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, how that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.

I'm saying to myself, I can't believe this. I've known many rich people who were generous, and by the way, I thank God for rich people. Rich people are oftentimes some of the most generous people. They fund all kinds of ministries, and so I'm thankful for them, but I personally do not know a rich person who gave himself so much away that he became poor because he gave so much.

Now, there are a few, and I'm sure that somebody can text me and tell me about an autobiography that's been written about some, quote, saint in the past who's done it, but I don't know of anybody, and I don't expect them to give that way. But here is Jesus who gave himself away and became poor in such a way that he actually had to become poor so that we might become rich. Do you notice that little phrase?

You're looking at the text, I hope. For your sakes. For our sakes, he assumed poverty, not just giving away out of his riches.

Oh, no, no. He gave until he was poor. Now, many people think, well, he became poor economically. This past week I listened to a message by John MacArthur, and he pointed out quite correctly, I might say, that Jesus was actually born into a middle-class home. He was not dirt poor. Being a carpenter there in Nazareth, probably his family. And when the Bible says foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, well, Jesus, of course, as an itinerant evangelist, had to sleep in various homes.

But it isn't economic poverty that might be part of it. I think that Jesus became poor in the sense of dishonor. He was no longer honored on earth. In heaven, everyone knew who he was. On earth, he got shouted at, he got spat upon, he was viciously attacked, falsely accused. That's the way he was being treated here on earth.

It was the incarnation. And not only the fact that he became poor in the sense of giving up his position. You know, the Bible says in Philippians chapter 2 that he did not believe that being equal with God had to be something he had to hang on to. He still retained God's attributes. When he was here on earth, he was God in the flesh.

But he gave up the use of his attributes and depended totally on the Father. That's why he spent so much time in prayer. It would be as if I were a millionaire but lived and worked with the poorest people in Chicago. At any time I could write out a check, I could live in a beautiful home, but I choose not to because I'm identifying with them.

That helps us understand a little bit about the incarnation and the tremendous price that Jesus gave. He did not consider himself that he had to hang on to his position, but he humbled himself and became a servant. Now think about that for a moment. Today if you ask somebody who has a position to step down, we hang on to our positions until our knuckles turn white. We will not step down.

We will not humble ourselves. Just try it. Try it in business. Try it in relationship.

Try it in your home. And yet here's Jesus who gives it all up. And the thing that he gave up the most was his relationship with his Father, especially when he was dying on the cross and he says, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And the fellowship with the Father was broken. That was the severest test and the most humiliation that Jesus went through. And to be nailed on a cross with everybody gawking at him as he died.

Talk about not dying with honor. My dear friend today, will you remember that nobody has ever been that high who has stooped that low and who has been willing to give it up, that we through that poverty might be made rich? Give Jesus a hand, would you please? And then notice the riches, the riches that we inherit, the generosity of God. Oh, try to grasp this.

I'm searching for words today. I can't get my mind around this, but hey, it's in the Bible. You know, here at the Moody Church, we have this naive belief that if it's in the Bible, it's true. Any of you agree with that?

And it's not naive because it is true, by the way. But you'll notice that the text says that we through his poverty might be made rich. Well, how rich do we become? We become as rich as Jesus is.

That's how rich we become. We are heirs of God. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We share in his inheritance. The Bible says he who is faithful will inherit all things. So in ownership, we become as wealthy as Jesus. And in honor, to some extent, we become like Jesus. Nobody's ever going to worship us, but the Bible says this, he who overcomes, to him I shall grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my father on his throne. And in terms of relationship, imagine how rich we are going to be because we shall reign with him forever and ever. His name shall be on our foreheads, and we shall see him face to face forever without any sin ever coming in between.

What a glorious prospect. And that's what the text is saying. And it all happened because he was willing to be made poor. So the Apostle Paul is saying, hey, you know, when it comes to giving, he goes on to talk about giving. And he says, when it comes to giving, he says, don't you know that that's our motivation? Don't you realize what Jesus did for you?

I'd like to make three very important points that I hope we never, never forget. First of all, remember this, that giving is a matter of appreciation. It's not a matter of duty.

It's not a matter of duty. Maybe you were brought up in a church where everybody was told you should give a certain amount. You know, we just came from Europe recently, so that's on my mind. In Europe, in some of the countries, you support the church through your income tax. I think it's 6%. And so many, many Europeans are very angry about that because they don't go to church.

I have to tell you a little secret just between us. Most Europeans go to church when they hatch, match, and dispatch. That's about it.

And you know, one of the reasons they do that is because they are so sick and tired of having to support the church, whether they attend or not, whether they're born again or not, they have to give to the church. One day on a previous tour, I was in a hotel with, I was sitting with a German who was drinking his beer, and I ordered Coke. I might explain. I mean Coca-Cola. I thought I'd just throw that in. And he told me that he signed off on the fact that he would not give that percentage to the church. Therefore, he's not allowed to even attend the church since he doesn't give it in his income tax. And he said that he's going to give his money to animal shelters, the 6% he'd give to the church. Now I'm all for animal shelters.

Don't write me any letters about it. But I really thought, you know, that's really interesting. I won't support the church, but I will support an animal shelter. Now maybe you were brought up in a church here in America, but the expectation was there everybody should be tithing. Now I'm in favor of tithing.

I think it's a good benchmark. But that was an Old Testament teaching, which also was something like a tax. And so what I'm saying to you is you should give a percentage, and I'll clarify this in the next message on the generosity of God. You should certainly give a percentage.

When Rebecca and I were first married, we didn't give a full 10%. I think we are developing our understanding of giving. But as God prospered us, we have been able to go beyond that, and we seek going beyond that, because it isn't a matter of saying, now you owe the church this.

No. Because what you are interested in is making sure that your heart is right and you become as generous as you possibly can be, whether you are rich or whether you are poor, no matter your background, no matter how hard you work for your money, because even then it belongs to God. You'll notice it says very clearly that the Macedonians, they, bless them, they gave out of extreme poverty. Poverty did not stop them from giving. There's a second lesson, and that is this, that giving is proof of salvation.

And I'm not contradicting myself. It's proof of salvation. Look, your Bibles are open, it says in verse 8, I say this not as a command, in other words I'm not laying a duty on you, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. Jesus said to none other than the man by the name of Zacchaeus, he said I'm going to your house, and Zacchaeus, the Bible says, was rich. I read the passage this morning in Luke 19. The Bible says he was rich because he was fraudulent.

And as a tax collector, they did all kinds of cheating. And then Jesus has lunch with him, and he says, look, half of my goods I'm going to give to the poor, and if I wronged anybody, I'm going to repay them fourfold. And Jesus said, salvation has come to this house.

You find somebody whose heart has been changed by the gospel, and I'll tell you, salvation has come to his house. And there are young couples today who never even speak about what they should be giving. If they have 20 bucks, they throw it in the offering basket. And they think it's sufficient. Well, you know, I made a statement here several years ago, and some people reacted a little bit to it. I said if you're stingy, you're probably not a Christian.

And some people didn't like that. I think that there are stingy Christians because they don't understand the enormity of the price that was paid for their redemption. So there are. But how in the world can we be a stingy people? You know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, how though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be enriched and become the heir of all things.

And you're stingy? All the way through Scripture, Jesus uses it as a proof of salvation. Now there are people who are unsaved who also sometimes give very generously. And that can be a great misunderstanding on their part.

By that, I mean this. Sometimes it's dangerous when they do that because they think they are buying salvation. And so they say, well, I'm thinking again, you know, having been in England recently of Henry VIII, who had six wives, two of whom he eliminated through taking them to the Tower of London and having them beheaded.

There are some guys, you know, who get their own way rather consistently. When he died, before he died, he gave the church all kinds of wealth and all kinds of money so that they could say a lot of masses for him because he knew that he was in trouble unless the church bailed him out. And I might say in passing, the church was unable to bail him out. But rich people who give sometimes who aren't believers, they think, well, surely God should be impressed. Look at how much money I've given. And that can be deceptive because you cannot buy the gift of God with money. In fact, that's my third point. The first step to real generosity, the first step to real generosity is to receive the free gift of salvation.

And don't be confused about this. You come to Jesus Christ and you cannot buy any salvation. You cannot buy any righteousness.

It has to come as a free gift. And if you don't understand that, you don't really understand the gospel. It cannot, absolutely cannot, be purchased by our good works, including sacrificial giving.

It just can't be done. There is a story I read some time ago about a Hindu in India who became very good friends with a missionary. And the missionary was trying to explain to this Hindu that salvation has to be a free gift.

Of necessity, it has to be free. But the Hindu thought to himself, you know, you have to go to Delhi, you have to get on your knees, you have to work at this business of salvation, perhaps bathe in the right river, whole list of various things. But before the missionary came back to the United States for a while, this generous Hindu gave the missionary the most perfect pearl one could ever imagine.

Now you know that pearls are garnered through divers who go to the depths of the sea. And this Hindu said to the missionary, this pearl, which is really a pearl of great price, I'm giving to you my son drowned and died as a result of getting it from the bottom of the ocean. The missionary decided to make a point. He said to this man, oh, let me buy it from you. The Hindu was insulted, rightly so.

I mean, come on. My son dies getting this pearl and you think that you can pay me for it. What an insult to the huge sacrifice that was made that you could have this very beautiful object.

But then the Hindu got the message. That's why we can't buy salvation. It was purchased by Jesus, and Jesus gave us a memorial. And he said, often what you should be doing is you should be drinking the cup and you should be eating the bread to remind yourself that it was my body that was broken for you.

It was my blood that was shed on your behalf. And salvation cost me death. And that's why the Bible says we were redeemed, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold. Oh, no, but with a precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot.

And you can't purchase that. You can only humbly receive it. And even now, while I'm speaking, however you may be listening to this, whether it's on the internet, whether it's by radio or right here in the wonderful sanctuary of the Moody Church, if you have never savingly believed on Christ, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It has to be a gift. And after you have received that gift, then you begin to say to yourself, in light of the fact that he has given to me all this so freely at such high cost, how can I not contribute to his work and to do so sacrificially? The gospel reminds us that it is the motivation for giving.

Let's pray. Our Father, we do want to thank you today that you have given us your Son. We thank you that God so loved the world that he gave.

I thank you that he is a generous, giving God. We ask today, Lord, that you will make us a generous, giving people. Break us out of our own selfishness, our own stinginess, and make us generous for your honor and glory. May we overflow with the joy of giving. When we begin to think not of giving to a ministry, but we begin to think about giving to people through that ministry and to know that we are having an eternal impact, that's actually the motivation that makes us very generous. If we look at only a ministry as a ministry without remembering the people whose lives are touched and transformed, then of course, giving can become a drudgery. But thank God for the joy of giving. And we here at Running to Win are totally committed to getting the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. So as you contemplate the possibility of beginning to give to Running to Win, if you haven't until now, think about it in the lives of people. We are in more than 40 different countries in five different languages, even in English, reaching many countries of the world. Why?

Because of people just like you. So it's near the end of the year, very near, as a matter of fact. It's time for you to assess where you've given, where you're going to give in the future. Consider the ministry of Running to Win very quickly. Here's how you connect with us. You go to That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Right now, you can go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. The principle of sowing and reaping is central to why we should give. Some preachers misuse this concept. And so, on our next Running to Win, Pastor Lutzer will give us five key facts about giving. Plan to join us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-27 03:00:52 / 2023-12-27 03:09:31 / 9

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