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About this series
Genius of Generosity
Lessons from a Secret Pact Between Two Friends
What's the secret to being truly smart when it comes to managing your finances, possessions and your very life? The Creator of all things invites you to enter into deeper levels of generosity with Him, so you can become wise in your giving and generous in living. When we begin to grasp God's extravagant love and generosity toward us, we begin to be generous toward Him and others in His kingdom. The result: our generosity becomes a visible expression of our love for Him.More from this series
I want to give you four air-tight facts about generosity that are absolutely true that will help you and help me begin to take the kind of steps that will allow us, by faith, to say, “It’s smart, it’s wise to pour out our lives.”
In fact, Jesus is called, He poured out his life as a drink offering. Paul would use the same phrase when he talked about his life and his love for the Philippian church.
So are you ready? Four facts that I think will give us faith. Open your teaching handout, if you will and let’s dig in together.
Fact number one: God blesses generous people. Some of you have been around – do not get nervous as I share these verses because some of you are going to come to some conclusions like, “What’s he saying? Is he taking us in this…?” Just listen.
And what I want you to do as I read these verses I just want you to ask and answer the question, “Does the Bible teach that God blesses generous people, or not?” I’ve got Old Testament, New Testament, the wisest man in the world, and Jesus Himself.
Follow along. First, Acts 20:35, “In everything I did,” Luke writes, “I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Luke 6:38, from the lips of Jesus, “Give,” why? “And it will be given unto you.” Well how? “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured into your cup. For with the measure or the size that you use it will be measured or given back to you.”
Solomon, the wisest man in the world, Proverbs 22:9, “A generous man will himself be blessed for he shares his food with the poor.” Are you getting the drift? Pretty strong argument. Solomon, Proverbs 19:17, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,” and what does God do? When people are kind to the poor, “He will reward him for what he has done.”
Deuteronomy, Moses writes, “When you’re out harvesting your field and you overlook a sheaf,” you know? You’re harvesting your field and you, “Oh, boy, we forgot that one back there.” Notice what he says, “Do not go back and get it, leave it for the alien, for the fatherless, and the widow.” Why? “So that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Turn the page if you will. Proverbs 3:9 and 10. He says, “Honor the Lord,” with what? “Honor God,” what’s it look like? “Honor God with all your wealth,” how? “With the very first fruits of your crops.” You give the first and the best. What’s the result? “Then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will burst out with new wine.”
And then finally, Solomon in Proverbs 11:24 and 5, I love this one. “One man gives freely yet gains all the more. Another withholds what is justly due but comes only to poverty. A generous man will prosper and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
Now listen very carefully. This is not a give-to-get and this is not the Prosperity Gospel. This is not a formula where you can figure out, “Oh, this is how God has set up life. I’m going to figure out how to use God and somehow give so I can get more.” That’s just being selfish.
But what the Bible teaches from Jesus to Moses to Solomon to all through Scripture is very, very simple. You have limited capacity. You have limited time. You have limited money. You have limited opportunity. You have limited energy. You have limited talent. And God says to you, “If you will take those limitations and you will give the first and the best and trust Me, I have unlimited supply to help you fulfill My purpose in you and My purpose through you.”
The bright idea that comes out of this is this: Generous living produces emotional happiness, spiritual holiness, and as a general rule, material prosperity. No give to get, no playing games with God.
But people that are generous are happy. They’re, like, anti-Scrooge. When you, you just can’t wait for your husband or your wife or a close friend or one of your kids or grandkid to open something, right? You know they want it. You now they want it. You’ve been thinking about it, you checked it out on the Internet, you bought it, you can’t wait, and you’re…you know what that is? You are made to give and to bless others. And when you do, what happens? It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
But God says this is a way of life. There’s an enemy to this, though. Left to ourselves and in our flesh I’m a selfish, greedy person. I mean, I want to appear generous but protect me. Right?
Now none of you are like that but that’s just left to myself. The only antidote to greed and selfishness and the power of money, the antidote is to give. It’s when I give God the first, when I give Him the best it breaks the power of greed and that false belief that, “Just a little bit more, just a little bit more.” That it can produce security and it’ll take care of me and someday when I have, then. That false belief.
And then finally what you find is people that are generous with material things and generous with their time, generous with their talent, just the hand of God’s blessing is upon them.
Now you may be hearing what I’m saying and thinking, “Okay, now wait a second. Fact number one is God blesses generous people.” And you might be saying, “Well, I think I’m pretty generous but I’m not experiencing that kind of blessing. In fact, I got a lot of debt right now. I got a lot of pressure right now. I don’t have enough time right now. I mean, how does this really work?”
Well I did a little experiment I thought to myself, “I wonder if there’s a difference between being truly generous and just assuming or thinking that you’re generous.
I went to a little strip mall where there was multiple little restaurants and a Starbucks. And I went from person to person to person and I said, “I’m trying to find a hundred people, I have one question, it’s a survey, I just want a yes or no answer, no explanation, yes or no.”
And I had young people, old people, all kind of ethnic backgrounds and I walked around and I was scared at first but then it got to be fun. I said, “Excuse me,” and two ladies are stopping, you know? “Hey, I don’t want any money, I’m not going to do anything. It’s a survey. Can I ask you this question?” And they kind of, I said, “Here it is. Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no?”
Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no? If I asked you that, just right now, don’t raise your hand, don’t do anything. But just your self-talk. Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Yes or no?
Well my very unscientific survey revealed that eighty percent of the people, at that strip mall considered themselves, very quickly, to be generous people.
Only two people said, “No.” And so I couldn’t resist, I had a follow-up question, “So you don’t think you’re generous?” “No.” Kind of like, “I don’t think I’m generous and I’m not trying to be generous, buddy. Just move on. You know, get your own coffee or something.”
Now here’s what I want you to get. What if all the verses I talked about aren’t for people who think they’re generous. What if all the verses, I mean, these are the words of Jesus, the words of Solomon.
What if, what if God really has a standard or a criteria that if you fulfill that you’re generous and these promises apply to you and if you just think you’re generous, which I’m now learning, eighty percent, at least, of the people think they are, then they really don’t apply to you.
And so let me give you fact number two. Fact number two is that God provides clear criteria for becoming or knowing that you’re a generous person. I mean, right out of the Bible you may have said, “Yes,” you may have said, “No,” but I will tell you, in about ten minutes you can know with absolute certainty form God’s perspective whether He looks at you as a generous person.
The first two are review and the last three are new. Characteristic number one: Genuine generosity gives the first and the best to God. When God looks at people, when they get the first crops, the first of their paycheck, the first blessing, the first opportunity, they come to God and say, “I recognize all I have belongs to You; I want to give You the first and the best.”
People who do that, from God’s perspective, are generous.
Second, genuine generosity is systematic and regular. So it’s not just an ooey gooey feeling or near Christmas or this person has a need and I gave them a couple hundred bucks or I helped this person over here.
Genuinely generous people, on a regular, systematic basis give. That 1 Corinthians, remember, 16 verse 2? Where Paul is writing to them and says, “Now on the first day of the week I want you to prepare yourself and I want you to decide in proportion to how God has blessed you, on a regular, systematic way...”
And in the New Testament times most people were paid daily, they were paid at the end of the day. Most of us get paid every two weeks, or once a month, or by commission.
And so the issue is, when I get paid, do I regularly and systematically give the first and the best to God? So that would make us generous. If I don’t do that I can feel generous but from God’s perspective I’m not.
Third criteria: Genuine generosity is proportional to our income. Notice that same passage, 1 Corinthians 16:2. He says, “Let everyone decide on the first day of the week according to,” what? “According to his income.”
Let me put it this way. Let’s pretend that right now I could invite one of you up here and you were just very bold and we learned that you earned thirty thousand dollars a year and live in the Silicon Valley. And someone else was very bold and very open and vulnerable and I had them come up and they own, they own three hundred, or they make three hundred thousand dollars here in the Silicon Valley, okay?
A;B. Both of them have maybe grown up in the Church, both of them love God, and both of them have learned that tithing is important. Giving the first ten percent.
But they’ve been taught that that’s God’s part and somehow unconsciously believe the biggest lie in the Church that the other ninety percent is theirs. So you just give ten percent to God and it’s like, “Boy, I’m glad that bill is taken care of,” but they miss generosity completely.
So let’s do a little bit of math. Thirty thousand dollars, give the first ten percent is three thousand dollars, this person is going to live on twenty-seven thousand dollars in the Silicon Valley. How sacrificial is three thousand dollars? It’s a lot, isn’t it?
This person, by God’s blessing and grace makes three hundred thousand. And, by the way, don’t read into: Good person, bad person. These people both love God with all their heart. This person just makes less, this person makes more.
They tithe and they gave thirty thousand dollars. The very first portion. But who’s the most generous?
I’m just going to, I’m going to go out on a limb, we have people from all kind of incomes, I’m going to go on a limb and a number of you would say, “I could squeeze by on two hundred and seventy thousand dollars a year, here in the Silicon Valley. I mean, it’ll be tough, we’ll have to really get a budget. But I’m going to figure out how to make it.”
Do you understand? What I want you to get is this jar represents yours, but some jars are bigger than other jars. For people that have small jars, what they give and how they give it, God never measures the amount that you give, God measures the amount of the sacrifice. That’s generosity.
That’s why when the widow would drop in the two, small copper coins and the other people gave large gifts, He wasn’t saying the large gifts were bad. In fact, the temple couldn’t run without the large gifts. He just was saying, comparatively, this woman has given more than them.
Well, what you’re going to say, “Jesus, your math is all wrong.” No, they gave this much and she gave this much. Why would Jesus say she gave more? Because it was a greater sacrifice. Generosity is the first and the best. It’s regular, it’s systematic, and it’s proportional.
So it’s not like you pay a bill. You’re on a journey as God blesses you more, you get to give more, you get to be involved more, you get to stretch, you get to love, you get to expand.
I’ve had times where I was given more and then I had times where everything went down to here and one of the most humbling times in my life was just saying, “I used to be able to give this, now I can only give this.” It’s proportional.
Fourth characteristic of generous people is: Genuine generosity is sacrificial. The same setting, Paul writes a lot about generosity in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and 9. He says, “Now brothers we want you to know about the grace that our God has given the Macedonian church.” He’s writing to the Corinthians and he’s talking about the Macedonian church.
He says, “Out of their most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty it welled up in rich generosity.” I underlined those four things because I don’t, I don’t think we think about generosity coming out of that, do you?
I’m going to be generous when there’s an extreme trial. I’m going to be generous when I’m under it. I’m going to be generous when I don’t have much at all, in fact, poverty.
He said what welled out of them was rich generosity. Now notice what he says. He says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability.” And then notice the motivation. “Entirely on their own they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”
And the service he’s talking about is over here these Jewish Christians, there was a famine. And they didn’t have any food. And these Christians over here said, Gentile Christians, they were new Christians and there used to be all this hostility but Christ broke that wall and they said, “We have and they don’t have so we’re going to share.”
See 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, “Ten years ago I stopped to have my car washed at this brand new car wash at 87 and Capitol. A couple of friends, Chuck and Patty, his wife, had spent the last couple 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, um, what’s your blood type?’ He said, ‘That’s an odd question. Why?’ I 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, 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 he was a better match than anyone else. We had an operation.
Chuck, later, gave his 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 there 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, doesn’t it? Most of us are sitting here, depending on where you’re at going, “Well, I think God really wants me to get my finances in order and I got a lot of debt,” or you know, “Gosh, when he used that illustration about the ten percent, I’ve been giving ten percent for twenty-two years and I thought that was just God’s and I would have to rethink my whole equation.
Some guy was willing to lay on the table and let someone cut out half of what he owns but from all I can tell kidneys are pretty important and we do have two but 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, 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 yet 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 you wanted to do in the world was put your life at stake, that’s sacrificial. That’s generosity.
The final characteristic of generosity, 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 hearing a series or having a, I call it a “God moment.” And I’ve them and I want to have more. But where you’re just compelled and you give and it sort of does this emotional thing and 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 this 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 had 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 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, “Oooh 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, couple 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 and he just brings them back like farmers. He goes, “Look if you put five seeds in the ground that, you’re going to have five stalks come up. You put five thousand seeds in the ground, you’ll have five thousand 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, 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 them 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 M.C. 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 makes me a little crazy. He goes, “Will you please take the envelopes from the middle and get them around the table?”
You know, like this, you know? And “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’m not I want to give but I’m not so sure about this deal and…”
And he was going, “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 biggest?”
And all of a sudden a little light went on. And I like this organization and I’d given to them 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 of compulsion and I felt guilty about it and I felt and I looked at everybody else and I don’t know if it was the 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, pulled 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 as 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. So I took a number of tests and got a license to sell a couple things and some also some investments.
And so I went all over and I sold. And about three or four hours a night, 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.
And so 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.
And 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 my that’s what I’m going to get.” And there was this huge, beautiful house and 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.
And he looked at me and he goes, “That is really great. I’d love to do it. I just can’t afford it. “
And now help me because, see, I grew up kind of naïve. I grew up thinking that if you had, like, really nice cars and a really nice house and a really nice job you had money.
And 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. And then people who made this amount of money, like three times that? They spent just a little bit more than that window.
And 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 are 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 chapter 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. In other words, 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 in financial. This is your whole life. And then notice what he says, “As it’s written: He has 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 at 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 he’s, 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? When?
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.” Whoo. 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 is 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 unbelief. Lord, I’m afraid to step out and trust You. My life is so busy, to give time to serve, to love, it just is so counter-intuitive. But I’m going to 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.”
And this is a man that had the palaces, the women, the money, the, anything – his heart’s desire and what he’s 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 seventy and eighty hours. Just refuse. Say, “What really matters?” And what happens is when you make some decisions about your finances pretty soon you’ve got to 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 going to have anything nice and I’m never going to get to enjoy life and I’ll never go on a good vacation,” and anything nice you have, “Oh 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 when we went down 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 and the Hyatt, there’s a lot of up and outers that we really want to 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, underline it 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 worshipping 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. What God, because 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.”