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A Generous Spirit, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2022 9:00 am

A Generous Spirit, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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September 16, 2022 9:00 am

Money is a personal topic, and it’s often considered off-limits in polite conversation. But the Bible doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable issues, and it has a lot to say about finances.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Christ, the ultimate investment counselor. He says don't ask how your investment will be paying off in just 30 years. Ask how your investment will be paying off in 30 million years. Some of you are going to retire comfortably and then you're going to go into your ultimate retirement with nothing because you haven't invested in eternity and you're going to die and stand before God having leveraged all of your life right here. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. I don't know about you, but to me, money is an incredibly personal topic and it's often considered off limits in polite conversation. I mean, how many of us actually discuss our salary or our giving numbers with friends or even family?

But guess what? The Bible doesn't shy away from these uncomfortable issues. So today pastor J.D. explains how the gospel transforms our view of finances. It's part of the hallmark teaching series we've been in called gospel. Now here's pastor J.D. with a message called a generous spirit. All right, here we go. First Timothy chapter six.

Let's begin in verse 17. As for the rich, Paul says, in this present age. Now let's stop right there because some of you immediately think, well, this passage is not for me because I'm not rich. Here's a little sociological insight about Americans. Nobody in America thinks they're rich, right? A little perspective here.

If you earn $37,000 a year, your combined household income is $37,000 a year, you are in the top four percent of the wage earners in the world. The point is, this is all a matter of perspective. Here's what Paul says to rich people in the next several verses. First thing he tells you, he tells you what not to do with money. Verse 17, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly provides us everything to enjoy.

Number one, he says, do not be haughty with it. Money very quickly becomes the measure of our status and our value. There is no difference in class to God. There is no difference in race. There is one class and race and that is fallen sinner. There is one solution for all people of all races and all class and that is the precious blood of Christ which is without value.

So if you understand the gospel, he says, don't be haughty because everything that God gave you is grace. He says, number two, don't set your hopes on it. Many of us base the security of our future on how strong our bank account, how secure our employment, how stable our retirement plan is. And so for many of you, the idea of losing your retirement, having your identity stolen, losing your job, these are devastating thoughts to you, right?

Because that's where your security is. Money can buy you a $5,000 mattress, but it cannot buy you rest. It can buy you a house, but not a home. It can buy you the latest toys, but can't give you joy.

It can give you a comfortable retirement, but not give you the ability to die at peace with God. And you know, ultimately, aren't those second things all the things that you were seeking? You were seeking rest. You were seeking joy. You were seeking fulfillment. You were seeking a stable family. You were seeking stability.

Isn't that what you were after? And Paul says it's uncertain. It's not where it comes from. Solomon, one of the richest man said, the wealth of the rich is their fortified city. City's where you find security. It's where you find identity. It's where you make your home.

So the wealth of the rich is a fortified city. God is supposed to be your fortified city. God is supposed to be your significance.

God is supposed to be your security. That's why Jesus said this. Matthew 6 24, one of the strongest statements he ever made about things like this, you cannot serve God and money.

If that does not scare you, that verse, then you're definitely not paying attention. Just listen to how Jesus talks with rich people in the Gospels. He explains that riches are what keep more people from Jesus than anything else.

Matthew 19, you've got a guy who shows up. He's a rich young ruler who is uber qualified in every way to be one of Jesus's followers. He knows the Bible. He's moral.

He's got leadership qualities. Jesus sees into his heart and says, no, you can't follow me because you love money more than me and I'll prove it. Go sell everything you have and come and follow me. And the young man goes away sorrowful because while he loves Jesus, he loves money more. While he wants to depend on Jesus, he depends on money just as much and if he has to choose between the two, he's going to opt for money. And then Jesus turns to his disciples and makes a statement that ought to scare every person in this room almost to death. He says, truly, truly, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to go into heaven. Jesus meant it is impossible for a rich person to go into heaven.

But then he says, but it's possible with God, which means that only when God has done such a supernatural work in your heart that has ripped up the root of your soul for money and put it into God, that is the only way that you're ever going to really follow him. It ought to scare you and make you ask, has that happened to me? Mark chapter four, Jesus talks about the seeds of God's word that fall on soil that receives it. They're excited about it. They come back to hear it again.

They love to hear good sermons. But it says then that the deceitfulness of riches spring up and choke out the seed of life. He says that's what happens. Here's the thing, the richer you get, the more danger you're in. First Timothy six, you fall into this snare and you don't realize it. That's why it's called a snare.

Snare is a thing you don't see coming, right? Slowly God is replaced as your source of significance and security. You probably never officially break up with God, but your soul gets consumed by money. You seek money more than God. You worry about money more than God. You obey money more than God. The more money you get, the more it entangles the affections and trust of your heart. God ceases to be your city and money becomes that. Some of you, when you made $18,000 a year, you tithed.

Why? Because you knew the only way we're going to make it is for God to show up. So I'm definitely giving God his part because I need God to help make this work. But what happened is little by little as your income increased, you quit depending on God and you started to say, I've got enough money. And so you started to hang onto it because it was your lifeblood.

And that's why now that you make much more than 18,000 percentage-wise, you give much less than when you did make 18,000. What is your God? Paul says don't trust in it. Don't delight in it more than God.

Don't let fear of the future keep you from obeying God. That's what you're not to do with your money. Then he turns and tells you what you should do with your money.

Look at this. First of all, look at that phrase, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Here's first big unexpected statement from the sermon. What does God want you to do with your money? He wants you to enjoy it.

Why? Because God's a daddy and daddy loves to give gifts. I love to give my children gifts. I bought my kids a new bike. It brings me more pleasure than her.

I am confident when I look out my window and I see her streaking up and down the street on that bike. She got a smile on her face and I got one in my heart because I'm like I love to see her enjoy these gifts. Our four-year-old, a three-year-old, the one that I told you loves, you know, thinks everybody's clapping for her. She is a princess par excellence and that girl, she changes outfits nine times a day and she, we bought, I bought, we bought her a new dress the other day.

I love to watch that girl just preen and careen around the house. Now it brings me joy because I'm a daddy. God loves for you to enjoy his good gifts. God loves for you to enjoy the blessings that he's given you. He is glorified when you bite into a succulent ruse-criss steak and the, just the goodness of God burst alive in your mouth. Oh, let's end this sermon quick.

All right. You're to enjoy it. That's number one, verse 18. They are to do good. Your money, you see, was given to you as a tool for blessing. That's the reason God gave some of us a lot so that we could love and bless others richly the way that God does. That's why God gave some of you a lot. You see, listen, God gives poverty, he gives riches. God made some of you poor so that you could glorify God by showing that God is better than money. God made some of you rich so that you could glorify God by giving like he gives. I know some of you are like, please God, put me in the rich category. Let me glorify you that way.

It's God's decision and God, whatever situation you find yourself in, you're supposed to glorify him in. Eternity will make up for all the disparity but whether you're poor or whether you're rich, you glorify God sometimes in different ways. But God gave a lot of you a lot because he wants you to glorify him by resembling him in how you give. So he says they are to be rich in good works, which is a wonderful play on words.

God gave us richly so we should give to others richly. So here's your question. Are you rich in good works? Now, I know what you're asking. You're like, well, how do I know? What's the percentage?

What's the magic number? I know that you want that from me and I'm not giving it to you. I've thought about this for a year and a half. It normally doesn't take me that long to come up with a sermon but I've been writing this one for a year and a half.

Here's what I've come up with. How do you know if you give richly? Compare how you live to how you give. If I looked at what you drive, if I looked at what you dress in, if I looked at where you live and then I compared that to what you gave, which of those two would I slap the phrase richly on?

Are you living richly or are you giving richly? By the way, some of you are going to have a problem with me saying this but I don't. I don't have a problem with you having a problem with me saying it. I don't have a problem with a guy that drives a $60,000 automobile. I really don't when he's giving richly. Some of you immediately look at that and say, well, there's no way that a follower of Jesus could drive a $60,000 car because, you know, Jesus didn't have a place to lay his head. Yeah, Jesus also died on the cross for our sins so I don't know how far you want to go with that one. The point is that what Paul says is that he gave it to you.

He wants you to enjoy it so the question is not how do you live. It's are you giving richly? So if I got a guy that drives a $60,000 automobile but gave away $10,000 last year to God's mission and his church, then I'd say he's living richly and giving poorly. But if he's giving richly and after giving richly, he's still got enough that he can choose to drive a $60,000 automobile, then I'd say just enjoy God's good gift and don't feel guilty about it. That's what Paul says to do. See, a lot of you see that $60,000 automobile and immediately you judge the person.

No real Christian would ever do that. All you're doing is what I gave you at the beginning. You're judging people that are two levels above you.

That's why you feel like that. The point is not are you enjoying. The point is are you giving richly? We say around here, based on this verse, you should give richly, live sufficiently. And then after you've given richly, maximize the enjoyment of your dollars. Enjoy and bring glory to God through the enjoyment, but live richly.

You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message titled A Generous Spirit. Did you know that our greatest joy comes not when we are working overtime to impress God, but when we're serving him from a place of gratitude? It's recognizing that he is the source of all that we're looking for.

And as we pursue him, the other things fall into place. In our new resource, The Gospel Bible Study, Pastor J.D. wants us to see that the difference maker is the gospel itself. This amazing gift that God has given us doesn't merely punch our ticket to heaven, but it actually drives everything we do as believers, giving us the path and the power to truly change. For your gift of $50 this month, we'll send you this video Bible study that comes with five Bible study guides so you and four friends can learn and grow together.

Give us a call at 866-335-5220, or go online to jdgreer.com to reserve this Bible study today. There's a principle that a lot of Christians teach, taught for years, it's called tithing. It means 10% of your income that you give back to God. Now here's the thing, that's an Old Testament deal, Old Testament. And the reason, watch, the reason we don't preach that as law is because we're not Old Testament, we're New Testament, we're not under the law. And that's a very complex system and it was all these different things, so we don't preach that as a law for Christians. But it is a principle that you start with that you ought to give the first fruits of what God gives you back to him. But here's where a lot of Christians go wrong, is they look at that like a checkbox that once you check that off then you've fulfilled your duty. That's not the point. It's a guide for you to begin, but the point is giving like Jesus gave. Jesus has a wonderful verse that God has used in my life recently, Luke 6 38, that just talks about this mentality. Look at this.

Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Now, a little pastor honesty time, I had, until about four days ago, I had no idea what that meant right there. I'm like, is he talking about making a smoothie? I mean, what's he talking about? Like, shaken together, shaken not stirred, over rocks.

What is he talking about? Here's the image. In the Jewish agricultural system, workers would go through the field and they would pick up these grain, this grain that had been cut down, they would put it in a basket. But because the workers were lazy, they didn't want to carry a heavy basket. So what they would do is they would just kind of, you know, let a lot of fluff be in there. You just sort of throwing it in. It's like, you know, sort of a salad.

They'd bring it back because it's not heavy. But at five o'clock or after the sun went down, they would allow poor people to come in and for about an hour or two, poor people, this was part of Levitical law, could glean anything they wanted. Now, what these people would do when they were going through the field because they're poor and they only get one basket full is, man, they put that in there and after that first layer, they're stamping it down and they're doing that and they're shaking it to get all the, it's like you're going to one of those Mongolian grills where you pay six dollars and you get one bowl, you know, like that. And so you see if you can put like 48 cubic feet of food into that bowl and you're cramming it because you're gonna pay six bucks either way.

That's what he's talking about. Let that be the mentality that you give with, not 10% so I filled up my bowl, but instead let me give in a way that I'm just seeing how much I can do it because I have been given richly too and I want to give according to the measure that God has given to me. Are you giving richly? Now again, I'm just going to say this, if you think I'm talking about giving to the church, just separate that for now. A lot of people believe in the church and I mean here, I'll tell you why my wife and I do give to the church because there are three things that we believe we ought to give to as Christians. One is to the poor, one is to missions, the other is to our local church. And what we have realized is that our local church is one of the best vehicles for all three of those. Okay, I mean we, you know, we give away about 24% of our budget last year, about 24% of what we took in was given away to minister.

We have five groups, the homeless orphan, prisoner, unwell mother, high school dropout. You know what, the agencies that we work with, we have vetted, we have made sure they're a good investment, we've made sure that they minister to both body and soul, so we feel good about giving it here because we know that they give it well to their missions. We, you know, give a lot of this money away to missions.

We know that we're investing in people that we have taken the time to evaluate. But if you can't separate this generosity thing from a lack of trust, that's okay, it really is, it really is. My bigger question here is are you giving richly in response to the God who's given richly to you?

We're still in verse 18. I want you to be generous, he said, and ready to share, ready to share. That means, watch this, that means that you've created the capacity to be able to give when the opportunity arises. You've created the capacity to be able to give when the opportunity arises, watch, which is what we call first fruits giving. You see there's two different ways people give.

One of them we call first fruits, the other you call leftover. Leftover giving is when you get to the end of the month and you're like, how much do I excess do I have, I'll give out of that. Here's the problem, I never get to the end of the month and think, dang, I got all this money, what should I do with it?

I always expand my expenses to meet the amount of money that's in there. So what study after study they have done shows that a habit of rich people is that whatever, this is not even Christian, but whatever they give, they give off the top. So whatever they save, whatever they give generously, it's always the first fruit, it's what they do, they set it aside.

That's what Paul's talking about. You figure out what giving richly is, figure out what you ought to save and just take it right out at the very beginning, that's first fruit, because otherwise you'll never have leftover. And when you figure out, by the way, what you want to give richly, sometimes you have to sacrifice to get to that. My wife and I, this has happened several years, where we felt like God put a percentage on our heart to give, we thought that's what it meant to give richly, but in order to get to give that percentage, we had to look at our budget and say, okay, what is there in this budget that we ought to give up to be able to get to this percentage there? There's years we've cut out things that are not wrong, they're not sinful because, you know, God loves for us to have them, but we said in order to give richly, we want to give and do without this so that we can give this way.

That's my challenge to you. Figure out what giving richly looks like, do that, and then look at what you have left and say, this is what I want to live on. So be like, wow, no, but see, I just, I got, I had this, I can't do without all these nice things.

Again, that's not true. You just got a little place where you can afford them, and now they trump even obedience to God. Verse 19, Paul says, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. Paul says, help them to realize, listen, that real life is not found in the things that their money can buy. Real life is going to be found when they think about their lives from the perspective of eternity. That's real life, and that's where they really should be investing, okay?

Let me show you one of my favorite authors on this, a guy by the name of Randy Alcorn makes this statement. Financial planners tell us, when it comes to your money, don't just think three months or three years ahead. You ever met with a financial planner?

They always tell you this. You got to think 30 years ahead. Christ, the ultimate investment counselor, takes it farther. He says, don't ask how your investment will be paying off in just 30 years. Ask how your investment will be paying off in 30 million years.

See, here's the tragedy. Some of you are going to retire comfortably, and then you're going to go into your ultimate retirement with nothing because you haven't invested in eternity, and you're going to die and stand before God, having leveraged all of your life right here. Paul says, there's another kind of life which not only you enjoy in eternity.

See, there's another kind of life that you even start to enjoy now because it gives you a greater richness to your life than even money can give. I saw this last week. Doug Marteline is a volunteer at our church, or has been for years, about 10 years. He's been here longer than I have, who pretty much puts together all of the sound stuff that we do. He's the guy that on the Durham Bulls Park showed up on Saturday, worked all day, stayed late that night, was there Sunday morning before any of us were, helped get all this working. He's got his headset on. He looks like he's an air traffic controller. He's making sure everything's happening.

It's all behind the scenes. You don't see it. I'm standing over there with him on the sidelines when the first song starts. About 10 seconds into that song, I look over and I see Doug, take his earphones off, and here it's just this overwhelming moment as the body of Christ together is lifting Jesus up. And I see him get this lump in his throat and these tears in his eyes, tears coming down, and it just struck me.

It was like he invested the most. He's enjoying this more than anybody right now because he's seen the fruit of his soul as Jesus' name is lifted up. That is a little picture of what's going to happen in eternity.

And some of you are going to go in with nothing because you leveraged everything here and you're not going to be able to have an investment that pays off forever. And Paul says, what a tragedy. You see, what Paul explained to you is this, generous giving doesn't come by making you feel guilty. It doesn't come by sermons. It comes by shifting your thinking fundamentally so that you no longer worship money as a God.

You worship Jesus as God. You begin to delight in his generosity to you and you just become generous. The analogy I've used before is to tell you it's like there's two ways to keep a balloon afloat.

If it has regular air in it, the only way to keep it up is to hit it. And I've told you that that's the relationship that I have with some of you is every week you're not doing well spiritually. So you come in here, my role, what you pay me to do is just, right, and then I smack you about something.

You're like, Paul, I'm supposed to be generous. So all week long you're giving up money and you're floating. But then next week you come down and I got to smack you about something else. That's why you don't like me. You don't like, nobody likes somebody that hits them all the time.

There's another way to float and that is helium is in the balloon and then it floats on its own. The gospel is what changes you in terms of what changes you internally so the generosity just comes naturally to you. It comes by understanding the gospel. One of my heroes in Christian history is a guy named Nicholas von Zindendorf. Isn't that great?

Isn't that a great name? He started the Moravian missionary movement. But he grew up and as a young man his parents were really rich and so they sent him for the finest education which included a trip to all these European cities where he could just get the best of European culture. And one day when he was in the city of Dusseldorf he goes to this famous museum and he sees a very famous painting by getting Fethi called Ecce Homo which in Latin means behold the man and it was a picture of Christ with the crown of thorns just looking upward. And Fethi had put an inscription at the bottom of the painting that basically said this, all this I have given for thee. What have you given to me?

And Zindendorf said that that that image was so overwhelming to him. Here's a Christ who gave this for him. What was he giving back to Jesus?

Some of you especially you college students came here to go to a good school to get a job to make lots of money and my prayer is that while you're here you will be presented with that question. Where would you be without Jesus? All this he's given to you.

What are you giving in response to him? What are you carrying with carrying with you in response to the gospel into eternity? Generosity is the mark of the gospel. Is Jesus your treasure and your trust or are you expecting money to fill that role in your life? That's our question today on Summit Life with pastor and author J.D.

Greer. We actually have a couple of resource options available to you this month when you generously support Summit Life with a gift. The first is based on something we call the gospel prayer and this prayer is all about our identity in Christ and to help these truths sink in we have a simple book called the gospel prayer catechism. We're sending a copy to all of our gospel partners this month thanking them for their ongoing monthly support. We're also featuring pastor J.D. 's gospel video curriculum that goes along with our teaching series. Each of the eight sessions begins with a video from pastor J.D. and then based on that teaching you'll open your study guide and bible and work through the questions and prayers with your small group. For a gift of fifty dollars this month we'll send you the dvds and five study guides to get you started.

Call right now our number is 866-335-5220 or you can always give online at jdgreer.com. In addition to pastoring the summit church and teaching on this daily program, Pastor J.D. is also a best-selling author. His books include Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart, Gospel and his most recent book Just Ask. You can purchase a copy of these books from Summit Life when you visit us at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich encouraging you to join us next week when Pastor J.D.

addresses a common question. How can I know for sure that I am saved? You won't want to miss the next Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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