Today, we are concluding our message series, “God’s Plan for Your Finances.” God’s Word can be trusted. God’s Word shows you how to live your life the way God created you to live. The message of the Bible is not outdated or irrelevant.
Isaiah 40:8 (ESV) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Fashions and styles come and go, but God’s Word can be depended on to give instruction in every aspect of our lives. Today, my message from God’s Word is titled “The Joy of Generosity.” In this entire message series, we’ve been looking at biblical principles of finance. Times are tough right now for many people. Why? Because in a nutshell, our country as a whole has not been following biblical principles of finance. Now is a very good time for every one of us to understand how God desires us to handle our money. So that, we can be blessed and be a blessing to others.
With respect to money, the Bible speaks of two kinds of people. The first kind of person I want to talk about today is a stingy person. A stingy person is someone who could be said to be a penny-pincher. A stingy person wants to keep as much money as he can and spend or give away as little as possible. Some people think that being stingy is a virtue. Let’s see what God’s Word says.
Proverbs 28:22 (ESV) A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him.
God’s Word tells us that the root of stinginess is the desire to get rich. A stingy person depends on money for his security. Therefore a stingy person never has enough money. A stingy person is self-centered and only thinks about his own needs. God’s Word also tells us that the result of stinginess is not riches, but poverty. In other words, the stingy person gets the exact opposite of what he wants. He wants riches and he receives his worst fear, poverty. What the opposite of a stingy person? The opposite is a generous person. A generous person thinks about other people and gives freely to others.
Proverbs 11:24-25 (ESV) One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
In these verses, God’s Word contrasts a stingy and a generous person. The stingy person again comes to poverty, but the generous person gains even as he gives and ends in prosperity. So that’s why I called this message “The Joy of Generosity.” Generosity leads to blessing and joy in your life and in the lives of others that you help. A subtitle for the message could be “The Despair of the Stingy.” The greatest fear of the stingy, poverty, is ultimately what awaits them. God’s Word instructs us to be generous people. To grow out of stinginess into generosity. So, how can you and I discover the joy of generosity?
Remember from last Sunday, that each believer is a servant of God. Everything that you have has been entrusted to you by God to use for Him.
1 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV) Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
We must be faithful to God with what He has given us in every area of our lives.
1 Peter 2:2-3 (ESV) Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Every new believer is like a newborn baby. God’s Word here tells you to desire to grow up in your salvation, to grow spiritually. To grow spiritually, you must crave spiritual food. Some people say that simply means to read God’s Word, but they miss the point. Jesus said “My food is to do the will of my Father.” To grow spiritually, you’ve got to obey God’s Word, put it into practice. To be faithful to God, you must desire to grow spiritually. A big part of spiritual growth is to ...
Paul writes of a church that didn’t have much financially in ...
2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (ESV) for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,
Here was a church that had been decimated financially, most likely by persecution. They were in extreme poverty, but they gave anyhow. In fact, God allowed them to give beyond their ability, He gave them additional resources to give. Even though the people of this church had little of worldly goods, they grew in rich generosity through giving. Generosity and spiritual growth are linked together in God’s Word. When you are faithful to God in generous giving, you grow spiritually. Stewardship is part of discipleship, it’s part of being faithful to God.
A very interesting story is found in 1 Kings 17. You can read it for yourselves this week. The prophet Elijah came to visit a widow and her son. He asked her for a drink and a piece of bread. She replied, “All I have left is a little flour and a little oil. I’m going to make our last meal and then we’ll die.” In others, words, sorry Elijah, I have nothing left to give. Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. First make me a cake of bread and then make some bread for yourselves. God says to you, your flour and oil will not run out until the drought ends.” And it didn’t. The widow had nothing extra to give, but she gave to Elijah first. Then God worked a miracle and provided enough to meet her needs for the next 3 years. The widow moved from stinginess to generosity and was blessed for her faithfulness.
What about you? Do you think you have nothing to give? Give what you have to God and watch Him multiply your gift. Give faithfully to God and experience the joy of generosity.
Ephesians 2:19 (ESV) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
As a believer you are a member of God’s family around the world. You are also to be a member of a local church family. For all our regular attenders, your local church family is the family here at Life Church. Just as God desires parents to be committed to their physical families, so He calls each one of us to be committed to our church family. Lack of commitment to marriage and resultant divorce has caused untold damage to physical families. In the same way, lack of commitment to a local church family also causes much damage both to the individual and to the church. What does it mean to be committed to a church family?
Let’s look at an example from the early church on their generosity.
Acts 2:44-45 (ESV) And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.
The believers of the early church were generous people. If there was a need, they gave sacrificially to meet that need. If there wasn’t enough in their bank accounts, they sold some of their possessions to meet the need. Their commitment to the Lord and to one another was demonstrated through generous giving. Why does generosity demonstrate commitment?
Matthew 6:21 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In this passage, Jesus is contrasting laying up treasures on earth in bank accounts versus laying up treasures in heaven by giving to God. The principle that your heart follows your treasure is true no matter where you are putting your treasure. The wonderful fact is that giving to God and giving to our local church are one and the same. When you give to the church, you are laying up treasure in heaven and drawing your heart heavenward. You are also meeting needs in this church family and increasing your commitment to your church family right here. Your heart follows your treasure.
What could this church do if everyone demonstrated their commitment to God and our church family through generous giving? Yet, too often our understanding of money comes from the world and not God’s Word. God wants us to use all of the money that He has entrusted to us for His purposes. The joy of generosity is reserved for those who are committed to their church family.
One of the joys of generosity is that you’re making a difference for eternity. Not only are you laying up treasure in heaven for yourself, you are making a difference in the lives of others for their eternity. Since the beginning of Life Church, we have seen many people saved, lives recommitted to the Lord, people healed and set free. Yet, I believe God has much more for us to accomplish as Life Church in our city of St. Louis. How can you and I help make a difference for eternity?
Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV) Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
As a believer, you want to sow to please the Spirit, you want to sow your resources at God’s command. We teach you the financial principles of God’s Word and then you are to pray and hear from God what and how you are to give. A farmer sows his seed regularly every year and so we are to sow faithfully with the seed that God supplies to us.
Galatians 6:9 (ESV) And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
When a farmer sows his seed in the spring, he does not reap in the spring. He needs to wait patiently through the summer until harvest times comes. Only then is it time to reap the harvest. If he gives up to soon and doesn’t take care of weeds, fertilize and water, he won’t have a harvest to reap. So, too, when we give and sow of our resources, we must learn to wait patiently for the harvest to come. Then we can …
Psalm 126:5 (ESV) Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
Sowing can be hard work, but the reaping that comes to those who sow faithfully will be joyful. There are three types of joy that come to the generous giver. The first joy is the joy that comes in knowing that you were obedient to God’s command. The second joy is the joy of seeing the result of your giving here on this earth. You can see the results of giving in God’s blessing on your own life and in the lives of others who have been touched through your giving. Finally, there will be the joy that comes in eternity, when you hear the words from Jesus,
Matthew 25:23 (ESV) His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
God desires us to make a difference for eternity.
Jesus told a story about a rich man in Luke 12. The rich man had a very good crop, so good that it wouldn’t fit into his barns. So, he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store all his grain and goods. He planned to say to himself, “You’re set for retirement, take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool, tonight you’re going to die, then who will get your treasure?” The rich fool was stingy. What should he have done with his bountiful crop? He should have given it to God and others, rather than laying up treasure on earth. We also have a decision to make, just like the rich man. God wants us to use the resources He has entrusted to us to make a difference for eternity.
In order to effectively use the finances that God has entrusted to us, we’ve got to learn and apply the principles in God’s Word. To know the joy of generosity, you must be faithful to God in your giving and committed to your church family. As you faithfully sow the resources God has entrusted to you and wait patiently, you will reap joyfully. Together we will make a difference for eternity.