Jesus and We
We know that love gives. We know that love gives because God first loved us, and He gave His Son so that we could live eternally with Him. That is why, as believers, we want to GIVE generously and demonstrate uncommon GENEROSITY with our time and our resources. I hope that is true for all of us individually, and I can assure you that is what we intend to do as the church.
Welcome to week #3 of Jesus and WE. So often, when we talk about Christianity, people talk about “Jesus and me.” Jesus and me, is a good thing. We hope everyone will have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But we also understand the importance of having a SHARED relationship with Jesus as well. That is the basis behind the title of this series, Jesus and WE.
We’ve been focusing on what happens when believers come together with several shared values. There is certainly something powerful that happens when believers come together as the body of Christ. These shared values help create a healthy culture in the church.
In weeks one and two we talked about values of serving and faith. We understand that we have been called to be spiritual contributors. We will not be content to be spiritual consumers. We know the church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world.
Last Sunday we talked about we are called to live a life of faith, and I shared three important principles. Principle #1 – You cannot PLAY IT SAFE and please God. Principle #2 – Faith does not come with a GUARANTEE. Principle #3 – You’ll have to release your SECURITY to take hold of your DESTINY.
We looked at two stories from the gospels where the Bible says Jesus was amazed. Both times it was the size of people’s faith that amazed Jesus. In one instance, He was amazed by their lack of faith. And the other He was amazed by the Roman Centurion’s great faith. We want to be the kind of people, and the kind of church, that amazes God with BIG faith in Him. I also shared some very important plans regarding the future of the church.
Last Sunday is when I announced the initiation of the transition plan that will take place here at The Point over the next several months. I also posted a Facebook Live message on my personal Facebook page this past Wednesday. I also shared that video to The Point’s Facebook page.
None of us are saying we have mastered any of these values. This is a work in progress as we continue growing and becoming the people and the church that God is calling us to be. In the Facebook video I attempted to answer some questions about this important process and there is also an FAQ on the church website at gotothepoint.com.
Today our focus shifts to the important matter of generosity. In Acts 20:35, this is what Jesus had to say about the important value of generosity. “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35b (NIV) Generosity is about giving or sharing with others. I think most of us know what generosity is. But most people are not naturally generous.
Generosity is LEARNED behavior
We are not born generous. None of us have never met a generous baby. Most parents start teaching their kids early how to be generous and share with others. We celebrate when we see them start to get it. Even as teenagers and adults, we still need to work at strengthening our generosity muscle because the tendency, if we are not careful, is to drift back toward selfishness.
In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effectively People, author Stephen Covey talked about the difference between a scarcity mindset and an abundance mindset. Someone with a scarcity mindset has a hard time being generous because they believe there’s simply not enough to go around. You got to get what you can because there’s not enough for everyone.
On the other hand, someone with an abundance mindset believes there’s always more. Let’s say I have a cherry pie. If you cut it in half and take half of my pie…a scarcity mindset says “There’s not enough. I have to hold onto what’s mine.” But an abundance mindset says “You can have half and if we need more, we’ll make another one. There’s enough for both of us.”
People who live with a scarcity mindset are AFRAID to give
And yet, God has promised blessings to those who are generous. One of my favorite passages on this topic is in Luke 6:38. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Luke 6:38 (NIV)
The Message Paraphrases the passage like this…“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” – Luke 6:38 (The Message) I love that! Generosity begets generosity.
I suspect all of us would say that we believe God’s people should be generous. If you have been with us the last couple of weeks, I have asked you to rate yourself when it comes to the matters of serving and faith. Let’s do that again, but this time for generosity.
< Generosity >
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10
I am not going to ask anyone to share your answer, but be honest, are you generous? Before you put something down let’s just talk it out. Jesus gets a 10. The devil gets a 1. And you and I are somewhere in between. I would say you are at least a 2 if you opened the door for somebody or allowed someone to pull out in traffic.
About a month ago, there was a long line of traffic on Tipton one day. Someone was waiting to pull out of Poynter’s. Since there was so much traffic, I knew they would be sitting there for a while, so I motioned for them to pull out in front of me. It was the golden rule thing. I knew I would appreciate it if someone did that for me, so I did it for them.
As they were pulling out, I realized it was someone from church. Later in the day this person texted me to say thank you and see if I recognized them. I texted back and admitted I didn’t recognize them until they were pulling out. Then I said, “I am always glad to be acting like a Christian whenever I see someone from church out in the community.” 😊 Now you know I am at least a two on the scale. Where are you? Be fair and honest in your assessment.
I think sometimes we consider ourselves generous because of a generous act once upon a time. I am not asking if you have ever done anything generous. I am asking if you are generous. Have you been generous in the last week or two?
There are plenty of ways to be generous. You can be generous with your words, your time, money, possessions, influence, attention, etc. Probably one of the easiest ways to evaluate our generosity is with money. But even that can be so subjective. What is generous for one, may not be generous for another.
If you are generous in the giving of your time, and you selflessly serve other people, and you look for other creative ways to give, or if you have a giving budget, then you might give yourself a 7 or an 8 or a 9 on the scale.
On the other hand, if you struggle with a scarcity mindset, and if you are upset that we’re even talking about this in church, then you probably need to rate yourself a little lower on the scale.
As followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we look for ways to be generous? You don’t have to be a believer to be generous. We all know non-believers who are generous. But if you are a Christian, don’t you want to be generous with what God has entrusted to you? The Scriptures clearly teaches that is what He wants from us.
The Apostle Paul was writing from Macedonia to the church in Corinth. He was writing to encourage the Corinthian believers with news about the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. The churches in Macedonia—Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea—had given money for impoverished believers in Jerusalem.
Even though these churches were poor, they wanted to make a difference and they had sacrificially given more than Paul ever expected they would give. Surprisingly, that happens more than you might think. Statistics reveal that people with less are often more generous than people who have more. That seems to be what was happening here.
The Macedonian Christians found great joy in helping others. They understood that their generosity was simply the good and right thing to do. Even though they were living in deep poverty themselves, they were incredibly generous with others.
This is what Paul writes…“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-3a (NLT) They gave as much as they could afford, and more. One translation says they gave “beyond their ability.”
When was the last time that you gave as much as you were able, or even more?
Have you ever given beyond your ability? That’s a convicting question for most of us.
Their giving was rooted in generosity. It was not forced or coerced in any way. “And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.” – 2 Corinthians 8:3b-4 (NLT)
Paul says they did this, entirely on their own. These Macedonian believers were begging for the privilege and opportunity to give and to share in the needs of others. Remember, they had their own needs. They were poor. There were plenty of people who had more to give. It would be easy to make a case for why the Macedonians shouldn’t give at all. They were living in poverty themselves. But they wanted to give. They wanted to further the mission of God. They were pressing the cause. They were blessing others. They urgently pleaded for the privilege of being able to give.
How different is that from the attitude of so many today? So many ministries, churches, nonprofits, and charities are constantly looking for incentives and gimmicks to try to motivate people to give. How different is that from a very poor group of people begging for the honor of being able to give to further the mission of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They urgently pleaded for the opportunity to give. And their giving exceeded Paul‘s expectations.
I love this next verse…“They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” – 2 Corinthians 8:5 (NLT) Did you notice what they gave first? Their first action was to give themselves to the Lord. That’s really where generosity begins.
Generosity begins when we GIVE OURSELVES completely to the Lord
Then Paul says…“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.” – 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NLT)
What would it take for you to excel in the gracious act of giving? I think generosity is a desirable value and a trait we all want to possess. I am thankful for a church, and so many people, who understand the value of caring for the needs of others.
One of the greatest expressions of generosity at The Point is found in things like the RIP Medical Debt offering we received a couple of years ago, our ongoing desire to provide clean water for those who need it through Team World Vision.
PIC – World Vision Impact Report
I was blessed to receive this impact report a few days ago. Some of you might have seen my post about it on Facebook. This report is a symbol of generosity. Not only have hundreds of people been generous with their prayer and their dollars, but 179 people have been sacrificially generous with their time, energy, influence, and so much more. That’s how many have participated on this team since 2016.
As followers of Jesus, we want to give generously and demonstrate uncommon generosity toward others. Why would we do this? Because it is right. It is good. And it is consistent with the example of our Heavenly Father who has been and is so generous to all of us. We do it because we are challenged to a better way of life in the Word of God.
This is what Paul wrote to Timothy…“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” – 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
We truly do believe the words of Jesus – it is more blessed to give than to receive. Here is a story that illustrates this point so well.
VIDEO – Becca’s STORY
Did you hear that? “The little things can turn everything around.” Even a small gesture of GENEROSITY can make a BIG difference in the life of someone else.
I love what it says in Isaiah 32:8. “Generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.” – Isaiah 32:8 (NLT) Generous people plan to do what is generous. And they stand firm in their generosity. They are strategic and intentional about their giving. They have a plan to do it.
Have you ever developed a plan for a major purchase? You think about the purchase. You research it. You study it. You save up. Then one day you do it. A generous person does the same thing with their giving. They plan how can they be more generous. They stand firm in their generosity. Stingy people have a plan too. They plan how they can hold onto and hoard what they already have. When all of culture says consume, consume, consume a generous person plans to do what is generous. They stand firm in their generosity.
Paul told the Corinthians how to plan their giving. “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned.” – – 1 Corinthians 16:2a (NLT) Make it a priority. Do it on the first day of the week. Set aside a portion. Pick a percentage. And do it on purpose. Pick a percentage – Make it a priority – And do it on purpose each week.
Generosity is not just what we DO, it is WHO WE ARE
And generosity is not just something we do occasionally, it becomes a habit, a pattern, and a practice in our daily lives. We challenge people to become on purpose, priority, percentage givers.
Laurie and I have chosen to tithe, give 10% of our increase as the baseline for giving. If you have never tithed, I would begin your generosity journey there. The Point’s 90-Day Tithe challenge – QR code – on the website at gotothepoint.com
Remember, we must LEARN to be generous with others. It typically does not come naturally. If you are not a generous person, I want to encourage you to exercise your way out of greed by giving. We know God does not want us to give not grudgingly, but cheerfully, generously, and from a heart of love for others. Generosity is a choice. And it is a choice we can all make.