EVERYDAY GENEROSITY: Treasure
Over the past several weeks we have been unpacking the gospel implications of generosity. The cross of Christ is the most compelling motivation for us to give away our lives in a sacrificial way. The practical question is “How do I steward my money in a sacrificial way?”
A BIBLICAL VISION FOR GENEROSITY
The truth is I don’t talk a lot about money in comparison to how much it is talked about in the Bible. However, we must wrestle with the topic of money because it has a powerful influence in our lives. Nobody ever asks me to talk about money. People would rather hear about marriage, the end times, or if there is marriage in the end times rather than hear about money. The Bible talks about money 10-20 times more than marriage or hell. Often times it money problems that make marriages hell. So why does the Bible talk about it so much? Because money has more power than we realize. If we are not careful—wealth can shape our lives instead of the gospel. Pastor and author, John MacArthur, in his book Whose Money Is It Anyway, writes, “Do you realize that people spend 50 percent of their waking time thinking about money: how to get it, how to spend it, how to save it, how to invest it, or how to borrow it.” And the big problem is, is that we are often blind to that power money has over us.
Jesus says in Luke 12:15 “watch out for all kinds of greed.” He doesn’t say watch out for all kinds of adultery (or any of the other seven deadly sins?). We know when we’re committing adultery (we don’t say, “oh your not my wife!). As a pastor, I have had people come to me and confess all kinds of sins, but never greed. When it comes to money we are blind to it - we almost never know when we struggle with money and greed and that is why it can have great power over us.
Nobody thinks it’s their problem. We are surrounded by people who have more money than us and spend more on themselves than we do, so we always feel middle class and frugal, no matter who we are. The nature of money can blind you to it’s power. If greed and materialism is rampant, and no one believes that is true of them, then virtually everybody is blind to. If we take the Bible seriously, then we need to consider that it might be true of us. We must make it our working hypothesis that maybe I am blind to its power. We need to be always checking that it may be true of us. This isn’t about feeling guilty, it is about not trusting yourself.
How can we test whether money has power over us? Tithe – give of your first fruits to God!
We all have been blessed with different treasures, including finances. We can seek to use these treasures to benefit others. In 2 Corinthians chapters eight and nine, Paul has much to say regarding financial generosity (I encourage you to read both chapters). Rather than appeal to guilt tactics, he simply reminds the Corinthians of the gospel. Regarding giving, he states:
“I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:8‐9).
Paul continues later saying, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
So the question we must wrestle with is, “How does the gospel inform and transform the way we steward our money?” First thing you must do is dwell on the truth of the gospel. As you do this, your affections for Jesus and his church will be stirred. At this point, prayerfully consider how God is leading you to give. According to Paul, it’s the disposition of your heart, rather than a certain amount or percentage of income that is of utmost importance.
This sacrifice is not to EARN God’s love, but in RESPONSE to God’s love. We all sacrifice our lives for something, the only question is to what? I have never met a person that wasn’t generous. People give above and beyond all the time. You want to know how I know this? Consumer debt. People give sacrificially, above and beyond their means. The question is: who are you giving sacrificially to?
C.S. Lewis writes, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities (or good works) do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.
A BIBLICAL REPSONSE TO GENEROSITY
If the vertical response to the gospel in GRATITUDE, then horizontal response to the gospel is GENEROSITY. When we are captivated by the depth, beauty, and riches of the gospel our only response is gratitude that leads to a life of generosity. So the question becomes how much? We should view ten percent as a guideline. For some that would be a significant sacrifice, and will take much time to achieve. That is okay. If you have never given financially to a church, just start somewhere. The point is not the amount, but that you are giving sacrificially. What is the next step or “click on the dial” for you? This is figured out in prayer and in community dialogue (with a spouse, friend, community group leader, etc.). Don’t ignore this opportunity for God to grow you in His grace.
A GOSPEL PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY
Heavenly Father, I desire my life to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you (Romans 12:1). Give me the grace to give sacrificially for your purposes and your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A GOSPEL RESOURCE FOR GENEROSITY
The resources below will help you budget your finances. Tithing is the first line on your budget. Reorient your budget in response to the gospel.
If you have any questions about GENEROSITY please email me at . I would love to dialogue with you about the gospel implication of this topic.