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About this series
Being generous isn't something that comes naturally to most people but research confirms that truly generous people are happier, have a stronger immune system, and have more positive, life-giving relationships. Who wouldn't sign up for all that - right? In this series, Chip helps us understand the journey and the roadmap for getting there.More from this series
I want to share with you how you can actually become extraordinarily kind and extraordinarily generous.
In fact, on the front of your notes, I have actually decided I am going to make it my manifesto. It doesn’t have to be yours, but this is mine. This is before God, and so I am going public with this. You’ll notice what a manifesto is. It is a published, verbal declaration of intentions of your motives or your views on an issue. So, it’s public, right? I published it.
And the real thing here is that, notice, it says, “To promote a new idea with a prescribed notion for carrying out the changes.” And I am going to share with you a new idea for me and the prescribed changes for my life and I just have this sneaking feeling that a lot of you are going to want to take the next step in generosity as well.
Are you ready for it? Here’s my manifesto. “I want to be known in heaven and on earth as an extraordinarily kind and generous person.” So, I want – I know this happens because God says, Have you considered My servant, Job? I’m thinking that He does that with you and some other people. I want Him to say, before I die, Have you considered My servant, Chip? He’s extraordinarily kind and generous.
I want my wife to say, “My husband is extraordinarily kind and generous.” I want my kids to say that. I want my neighbors to say that, I want the people who know me best to say that.
I have been on a giving journey. In fact, this little green card I wrote down as I was learning about giving on the journey. And it’s 1998. I wrote this to myself and I just read it over. “I would like to be more generous this year with my money and my time.” And then in 2000, I rewrote it because I realized it wasn’t my money and it wasn’t my time. So I rewrote it and I said, “I would like to be more generous this year with the time that You have given me and with the money that You have entrusted to me.” And so, I just kept reading that over and this says, “2001 – that was our most generous year ever. It was wonderful and fun.” And then I listed people that we gave some things to that was just awesome.
So, would you like to go on the journey? This is a journey that will radically change your heart, but, wow. There will be people’s lives that forever and ever and ever and now will be completely different because you go and take the next step on the generosity journey. So, open your notes and as you open them there, you’ll notice it says, “You can become an extraordinarily kind and generous person.” I want you to just underline you, because you’re going to be tempted, some of you, to think, maybe this Chip guy has been at this for a while. No, no, no.
This is every, single person. You can become extraordinarily kind and generous. But you have to begin where you are at and take what I call baby steps on that journey.
To do that, I have a picture I want to share and there is a process I want you to follow and then I have a little practice that the Scripture teaches about how this all works.
The picture I want to share is this is Henry. Grows up in a nice home. Dad and one of his brothers: amazing athletes. Realizes he is not in that category but he had this knack. He’s an entrepreneur. So, he goes to college and wants to make a little money. And so, he decides he will sell t-shirts. But think t-shirts on fifteen or sixteen different campuses in America. And he gets college kids doing it.
So then he realized, I have a little knack for business. And then, Henry realizes, Maybe we should explore spiritual things. I grew up with good morals. And so, they go to a church and they go to a church a lot like this one. And they got shocked because the person actually opened the Bible and started talking about a relationship with God and it was personal and it was like, Whoa. I just thought you sort of checked the box. I go to church now and then.
Well, as that happened, Henry realized he didn’t have a relationship with God. He was just religious. And so, he turned from his sin and he received Christ, and then he started praying and then he started, little by little, ups and downs, read the Scriptures. And then he learned that God owns everything. Oh my gosh, for a business guy, that’s crazy!
So, in one of the ways you show that, he said, Okay. So, I was taught: give the first ten percent of your income to declare that God owns it. So, he said, “Okay.” So, he did that. And then he started getting around some people who said, “Well, it’s not like a bill you pay. It’s just, it’s your heart that He wants.” And so, he started giving a little bit more and being proportional and got excited about: we got to help this group and this group and that group and this person.
And so, then he starts this little business and he decides, “I’m going to do it completely different than I have ever done. We are going to do it by kingdom principles. I am going to be generous to my employees.” It’s an amazing story and God just went, Pfff! And then he thought, That’s just one business. What if I could reproduce that?
And out of that business, he started a venture capital firm called Sovereign Capital. Get it? Sovereign? And he invests, not in Christian companies. He invests in Christians who are doing all kinds of companies, but they have to have a kingdom component that loves and cares and ministers and makes a difference in all kinds of people’s lives.
And so, I declared, Okay, I have been inspired by Henry’s story. I’ve been inspired by what I have seen. I have been on a generosity journey; I’m going to the next level.
And then I started studying and studying for this. And I saw something, this happens to you all, right? You have been studying the Bible, maybe some of you for years. At least, I have been at it for a while. And I had a – pff! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh, this idea of reproducing things and life, I have never seen this before.
So, are you ready? Get your notes out and get a pen. There’s a process to follow and what I saw was it’s all about seeds. You could actually look from the beginning of the Bible to the end. It’s about seeds and all of life is about sowing and reaping. In fact, your whole life, my whole life, even the life of Jesus – it’s about what you plant, what you cultivate, and then what you harvest.
So, I want you to think about, Okay, how has the sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, mighty God of the universe – what is His design? How has He created life to actually work? And the very first moment that we have any kind of life is in Genesis chapter 1.
Genesis 1, verses 11 and 12, this is the very first time God speaks – it’s life! “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Notice, “The land produced vegetation. Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, and trees on the land that bear fruit with seeds in it according to their various kinds.’ And it was so.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but let’s pause for just a second. The God of the universe is speaking life into existence. The very first life is vegetation. Then He does the animals. Then He creates mankind. What is the deal with seeds? Have you ever seen this before? I didn’t. Did you notice that verse? Seed, seed, seed. Four or five times.
Here's what I want you to get: in all creation, everything living is created with a seed. And everything created has the capacity and it’s God’s intention that it would not just grow, but reproduce.
In other words, a seed goes into the ground and it gives new life. The Greek word for seed, are you ready for this one? Sperma. Can you figure that one out? Life. Sporos is the other word. So, what I want to do, this is nutty, but stay with me. I am going to try and take you from the beginning of the Bible, all the way to the end, and I just want to trace seeds and the impact.
Because, here’s the deal, when you see this, all of a sudden you’ll realize, Oh, generosity. I am going to be planting seeds, either good seed or bad seed. And the only kind of seeds that grow are the kind that die and go under the earth, and then they bear fruit and, oh! So, this is what life is all about. Are you ready?
What we learn in terms of creation, is all life is created and then there is a likeness that God wants. When He creates us, it was in His image. He wanted people like us to rule this little earth the way He rules the universe: with kindness and goodness and perfect harmony.
Well, then we learn seeds require a perfect environment. Things don’t grow. Seeds can be everywhere, but they only grow if there is the right environment. And so, chapter 2, what do we get? God says there is water, there is sunlight, there is His presence. It’s not quite right early, so we get man and woman. We have got community. And then there’s choice.
So, everything that is needed for a human being to grow, to flourish, and to multiply and be Christ-like and to be loving – it’s all there. And I want you to remember that. Seeds require the right environment in order to grow.
Third, the choice is paradise is lost. And many of you know the story. There is temptation, there is failure, there is judgment. But there is a promise. If you’re still in your Bible, look at verse 15 of chapter 3. So, there is failure. Sin enters the world, but notice what happens. The judgment is, I never saw this before, there will be a war, or the word is enmity, between the seed of the woman, which is mankind, and the seed of Satan.
So, all of a sudden, all of the Bible opens up and you realize the generations of mankind and the generations of evil and there is this conflict of kingdoms. And then, notice the promise: But He, this person, this Messiah that is going to come out of the seed of woman, is going to crush Satan. He does that in chapter 20 of Revelation, but His heel will be bruised. That happens when He died on the cross.
So, all I want you to get is: our choices determine our growth or our demise. Have you thought about that? Your choice, where do you spend your time? What do you watch? What do you do with your money? Our choices. Because all those things are seeds.
Now, we move on. The conflict begins, Genesis chapter 4, all the way through Revelation. And so, are you ready for this? The very first conflict happens. Someone comes to be generous, to give an offering. His name is Abel. His brother brings an offering, and for some reason, either his heart isn’t right or he is not bringing the right stuff. And God says to Abel, Great offering. It’s from the heart. I love generosity because I am generous. And He says to Cain, That is not, that’s not what I am looking for.
And then He sees in his heart and He goes, “Sin is crouching at your door,” don’t go there. But instead, he kills him. And then what you find is all the next chapters are Cain’s seed and violence and corruption versus good seed. And then you get to chapter 6 where God says, I am sad that I ever made mankind. There is violence and murder everywhere.
And so, He chooses and individual – Noah – are you ready for this? And the text says, “And Noah and his seed,” and so He takes a normal person and he is generous by building this ark and God delivers. And then, as soon as he is done, guess what he does the moment the water is done, he does an offering. Hmm. I’m seeing a pattern here.
Well, then, one of his sons goes, is bad seed and the other guys are going, and so you have all these things that go, go, go, go, pretty soon, now it’s corruption and evil. And do you realize murder and all this stuff has been happening forever? There is bad seed in the heart of man, apart from God.
And so, by chapter 12, here’s the next person. There’s this man named Abraham. So, “To Abraham and his seed, I will make a great nation and you will bless every nation on the earth.” By chapter 15, Abraham has done what you have to do, he has to leave. And then he goes, “Lord, I don’t have,” the word, literally, “I don’t have a seed. I have no heir.”
And God says, “In your seed, I will bless all the nations, just like the stars of the sky, and like the sand of the seashore.”
And then you see He asked him to make the ultimate offering. Are you seeing the pattern? Seed, good, bad, offering. So, he takes Isaac and is willing.
Well, then that, we go to Moses and the text says, are you ready for this? “The seed of Israel,” so, God takes a man. Now He takes a nation and He says, “I am going to make this nation and I am going to show this nation how life really works so they would be a light so people, everyone would see it.” Well, they don’t do so well.
But all those five books that Moses writes are about what kind offerings? Thank offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, built…
And they are told: bring the first produce. God is teaching them. They don’t do too well. Is this a pattern, like we struggle too? And then there’s David. And He says to David, right? Saul is the good looking guy who is proud, who gets involved in the occult. David is the little shepherd boy whose heart is in the right place. God exalts him.
Now, he has his struggles. But then He says, “Out of your seed, the Messiah is going to come.” And what is the last thing David does in his life? He takes all of his personal treasure and gives this huge gift to build a temple for worship. Are you seeing the pattern?
Then Jesus comes. And He fulfills all this prophecy. And Jesus is the seed of the woman. And He is fully God and fully man. And He comes to the earth. And what does He do? He demonstrates: what does good seed look like? We have got to turn this thing around. The whole world system is get, get, get, selfish, selfish, selfish. When I don’t get my way, I get angry, I get jealous, I kill! It’s the history of mankind.
So, Jesus intervenes, because He is going to deliver. Moses delivered. Nehemiah delivered. Abraham delivered. Now, Jesus is going to come and what, do you remember what He said about Himself? “Unless a grain,” seed, “of wheat fall unto the earth and die, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”
Look in your notes: 1 Corinthians chapter 15, I’m not going to read it. But guess what Christ is called: the first fruits of the resurrection.
He literally went into the earth like a seed, into the darkness for three days. And then He rose again and because He rose again, He defeated sin and Satan and death. And we receive it and guess what is the seed that comes into us: the living Holy Spirit of God in us believers so that we would become like the original plan – like our Father. And guess what, now we have the seeds of time, the seeds of talent, the seeds of money, and the seeds of opportunity.
And so Jesus teaches His followers – what? “The kingdom of God is like a seed,” right? Like a mustard seed. It starts small, but then it grows and supports others. The kingdom of God is like a seed that is planted and there’s the tares and there’s the wheat and they grow up together. And then He says the seed is the Word of God. And 1 Peter says that you are born again, not by the precious gold and silver, but by the imperishable Word of God – the seed of the Word of God.
And so, there’s this group and we are it. Believers all over the world who, the seed of God’s Word lives in, and the agenda is that it would grow. But here’s the deal. What did Jesus model? Only dead seeds grow. Until we die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, then it’s just us in our own energy.
And then when you get to the very end, isn’t it interesting? Jesus crushes Satan, He has a kingdom of people for Himself, and what does the new heaven and the new earth look like? What was the whole goal anyway? Sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping. Jesus sows His own body and His life, “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” and there’s a new heaven and there is a new earth.
And there is a throne. And this seems familiar, doesn’t it? Water of life coming out of the throne. And on either side, the tree of life. And the tree of life bears fruit each month. Did you ever think about that? To bear fruit, there are still seeds.
I have never seen any of that before. And then I began to see the teaching of Jesus. Then I began to see, Wait a second. All those parables, all that stuff about the law of the harvest, all that stuff about…oh my! He was really trying to teach us: God created life where there would be light and love and relationship. But it only happens when you plant good seed, and good seed that is cultivated in the right kind of environment – His Word, fellowship, the kind of people, opportunity.
And then He says there is this battle going on in your heart and my heart and the only way to break it, that generosity is the way to stop the greed in my heart and yours, and it’s how God begins to grow and cultivate transformation.
Now, let me show you the principles. We see a process of seeds to follow from Genesis to Revelation. Now, here’s a practice to start. You’re already sowing. Every day. You sow words, you sow life, you sow time, you sow money, you sow into relationships.
Now, what I want you to see: this is the absolute truth about what is going to happen with what you are currently sowing and my appeal to you is, first, my appeal to me. I want to sow some different things so the day would come – I think God likes us to ask outlandish things – I want the day to come that someday, in heaven, maybe I find out about it later, where God would really say, My servant, Chip is extraordinarily kind and extraordinarily generous. Because I can tell you, if you interviewed my kids and my wife and some of my closest friends, they would say, “You’ve got to get extraordinary out of there. He is making progress.”
But what would your mate, what would your roommate, what would your friends, what would your employer, what would people say about you?
How kind are you? How generous are you? Well, here’s the practices that will allow you and me to be extraordinarily kind and generous.
Principle number one: we reap where we sow. “Do not be deceived,” underline deceived. This is – money and possessions are powerful. “God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his flesh,” the selfish side, “the flesh reaps corruption. But the one who sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Are you ready? We reap where we sow. If all your time is at work, if all your time is at success, if all your time is income, if all your time is about you – it’s the flesh.
Now, do we need to have work and do lots of good things? But if it’s selfish, if it’s about you, me, mine, greed, hoarding. And here’s the thing: I have never met – just one person, actually – I have never met someone who goes, “Oh, I am greedy. I am materialistic.” I have actually done this. I don’t recommend it.
But I got a clipboard and I pretended I was taking a survey and I went to a strip mall. And I walked around and I said, “Excuse me,” and they are looking at me weird. I said, “No, no, no, no. This is a survey, but there’s just one question. And it’s just yes or no.” Oh, they said, “Oh, okay.” Here’s the question, “Would you consider yourself,” and I had it really proper, “would you consider yourself a generous person?” Eight or nine out of ten, guess what the answer was: yes.
Well, you can’t get more generous if you think you’re generous, right? If you asked their wife, their friends, their kids, their roommate, their employer – they would not say they are generous. That’s why He says, “Don’t be deceived.”
In America, are you ready for this? We could interview Christians all over America and I know, if I, “Are you a generous person?” They would say yes. And then I would say, “It’s really amazing, because only two point five percent of all those who claim to follow Jesus even give the first portion of ten percent of their income.”
So, in other words, our words and our thoughts and our intentions over here, God says, “I won’t be mocked. You’re going to reap where you sow.”
Second principle is that we reap how much we sow. So, it’s not just wherever you sow, that’s where you’re going to reap. If life is all about you, and by the way, don’t we all do this? Don’t give me that, I feel guilty look. Would you stop talking? I struggle with this. You struggle with this. We are in this together. But we are going to change. We can change by God’s grace and power.
He says, “We reap how much we sow. Now, this I say, he who sows sparingly will reap also sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will reap also bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The context is there was a famine and this is a Gentile church and they were raising money to help really, really poor people. And Paul is collecting it and he just – it’s just a reminder. You can give a little or you can give a lot, but the kingdom works like this. If you have a hundred seeds and you plant it in a box that is five by five, you’re going to get “x” amount of fruit. If you have a hundred thousand seeds and you plant it in a box that is five acres by five acres, you get a lot more. So, he is just reminding them: whatever you sow in whatever amount. If you’re a little kind, that’s what you get back. If you’re a little generous, that’s what you get back. If you have harsh, negative words – guess what – where you sow, that’s what you get back.