logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

“DARING TO BE GENEROUS” - Daring Faith: Key to Miracles - Part 8

April 30, 2017 1Tim.6:6-10,17-19

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, May 16-17, 2015)

If you want the blessing of God on your life, if you want the power of God in your life, if you want the anointing of God through your life, you must build your life on three things to have the blessing of God: integrity, humility, and generosity. Integrity, humility and generosity. These are the three great antidotes to the three great temptations in life. If you build your life on integrity, humility and generosity, you will set up for yourself a barrier to the three greatest traps in life that cause people to fail in life.

     Today we’ll look at just one of those – generosity. In the Bible there are about seven thousand promises of God. These are blank cheques for you. And God says, “If you do this, I’ll do that.” With every promise there is a premise. God says there’s a condition for every one of the promises of God in your life. Promises for success, satisfaction, fulfillment, and blessing. In the Bible the number one thing that God has promises about is connected to generosity. There are more promises related to generosity in the Bible than any other subject.

     Generosity applies to more things than just money. You can be generous with your time; energy; your praise; talent; with every area of your life. It’s about becoming an unselfish person. There are more promises about that than anything else.

     So what is generosity? Why is God so interested in generosity? Because generosity is love in action. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. You cannot be loving without being generous. If I tell my wife that I love her but I’m not generous with my wife, I don’t really love her. Because love gives. God so loved the world that he gave. Generosity is simply love in action. And if I’m not a generous person, I’m not a loving person – I may think I am, but I’m not – because love is all about giving: it’s not about getting.

     A lot of songs on the radio are not love songs: they’re lust songs. Lust is about getting; “You make me feel good” - that’s lust, not love. Love is giving; lust is about getting.

     In the Bible, the word “believe” is used 272 times in the Bible. “Pray” 371 times. “Love” 714 times. But the word “give” is used 2,152 times! Why? Because God is a giver. Everything you have in your life is a gift from God. If God was not generous you would have nothing. Your heart would stop beating right now. God is a generous God. He gives you air, sunshine, a mind to think and everything else in your life is a sheer gift from God. Even the ability to earn is a gift from God. And God wants us to learn to be like him.

     So here are a dozen major promises about generosity in Scripture. This is what happens in you every time you are generous.

1) GENEROSITY HONORS GOD Giving is an act of worship and it’s a recognition that everything you have is a gift from God. 2 Corinthians 9:13, “You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” Proverb 12:31 “Whoever is generous to the needy honors God.”

2) GENEROSITY DRAWS ME CLOSER TO GOD. Why? Because whatever I invest in is what I’m interested in. If I invest my time or money or energy in something – whether it’s golf or a new business plan, whatever I invest my time and money in, shows what’s important to me. When I invest in God and his work it not only honours God, it draws me closer to him because wherever my money and time go is what attracts me. Proverb 14:23 “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.” To give the first part of your income, the first ten percent, on the first day of the week (or monthly if you’re paid monthly) is saying, “God, you’re really number one – it all came from you.” Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, “Your heart will be wherever your treasure is.” Wherever you put your money – that’s where your heart’s going to be. If you want to be closer to God, put some money there. It’ll draw you closer to God.

3) GENEROSITY MAKES ME MORE LIKE Jesus. Because the most generous person who ever lived, of course, was Jesus Christ. He sacrificed his own life. The Bible says we have been saved because of the generosity of Jesus. Every time you give – time, money, energy, anything – you become more like Jesus. Every time you give, your heart grows bigger. Every time you give, you become more like Christ. Proverbs 21:26 “The greedy always want more, but the godly love to give!” And the more godly you become, the more generous you are. It also works in reverse: the more generous you are the more godly you’re going to become. Luke 11:41, “Purity is best demonstrated by generosity.” In other words to live a holy life is to be a giver. It makes me like Christ.

     A man named Bob McCuen one day bought his young son, sitting in his car seat, some French fries at a drive-through. Bob recalls as he was driving back home it smelled so good, “I just reached over and took one of my son’s French fries. My little son said ‘Dad! You can’t have any. These are my fries!’”

     McCuen immediately had three thoughts. “Number one I realized that my child had forgotten that I am the source of all fries. He would have no French fries if it weren’t for me. I brought him here. I drove him here. I bought the fries. I paid for the fries. I handed him the fries. He would have no fries in life if it weren’t for his father. And the only reason he got any was because of me.

     “The second thing I realized is that my child doesn’t realize that I could take them all away if I wanted to. I could take them away and say, No more until after supper. Or, No more right now. That’s all you can eat. I could take them away instantly.

Or on the other hand I could go back and buy him a truckload of fries if I wanted to. I was totally in charge; he was not.

     “Third, I realized that I really didn’t need his fries. That if I had wanted fries I could have bought them for myself. I had plenty of money. I could have bought them for myself. I could easily get my own. I just wanted my young son to learn unselfishness. I wanted him to learn how to share.”

     Let’s apply that analogy from Bob McCuen and his young son. Those are the same three reasons God wants you to learn generosity! God does not need your money. It all belongs to him anyway. It wasn’t yours before you were born. It’s not going to be yours after you’ve died. He just loaned it to you while you’re alive. It’s all his. He is the source of all fries. Everything you have in your life… If God didn’t love you and be generous with you, you would have zip, nada, nothing. He could take it away from you instantly. And he could give you ten times that amount instantly. He just wants you to learn how to be unselfish. Why? Because God is a ‘fry giver’ – God is generous. And it makes me like Christ.

4) GENEROSITY IS THE CURE FOR MATERIALISM. Materialism is all about getting – get, get, get: get all you can. And materialism is about taking in and acquiring and hoarding and I’ve got to get more and more and more. The only antidote, the only antidote to materialism is giving. You may say, “I’m not materialistic.” But if you’re not generous, you are. Every time you give, you break the grip of materialism in your life. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 “You cannot serve both God and money.” Circle the word “cannot.” Notice he didn’t say you should not serve both God and money. He said you can’t. It’s impossible. You can’t have two gods in your life. You’ve got to decide what’s more important to you – being rich or serving God. What’s more important to me? Is God number one in my life, or is money number one in my life? He says you can’t have two gods, they’re mutually exclusive, incompatible; which will it be?

     In a consumer driven culture and especially in the good life of North America it’s pretty hard to fight materialism. It’s very easy to get caught up in being a consumer and thinking that ‘my net worth determines my self worth’: it does not. Your value is not the sum total of your valuables. Your net worth and your self worth are not connected. Yet daily you are bombarded by advertising, which constantly subliminally suggests, “Get this and you’ll be happy, you’ll have it made.” And Satan has other little tools he likes to use to make you materialistic: flyers, catalogues. “I didn’t even know they made that but I’ve got to have it now! Where was I without that?” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “Command those who are rich [And you’re rich – the poorest of the poor in North America are richer than most of the rest of the world.Most of the world would love to have the problems of the people who are poor in Canada! Command those who are rich, that’s all of us ...] 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 [That’s us] to be generous and willing to share. In this way... they will take hold of the life that is True Life.” You don’t know what you’re really living for until you break the grip of materialism in your life.

5) GENEROSITY DEMONSTRATES MY FAITH. Because it shows that you’re trusting in the promises of God; it shows what you believe, namely, you believe that God will take care of you if you obey him. 2 Corinthians 9:13 “Your giving proves the reality of your faith...” Philemon 1:6 says “You are generous because of your faith.” Stinginess is caused by unbelief. One frets to oneself, “I don’t really believe that God can take care of me.I don’t believe that if I give this away I’ll have enough for myself.” That’s a worry, an anxiety, a fear, an unbelief: stinginess is caused by unbelief.

     You’re generous because of your faith. In Malachi 3:10, God dares you to trust his promises: “Bring your whole tithe [That’s ten percent, the Old Testament standard] to My storehouse.[that is, the temple, which lay in disrepair when Malachi was prophesying: it was their place of worship.] Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won’t have room enough for it!” God says, I dare you. Test me, prove me. The way you prove that God exists is by tithing and see if he doesn’t bless you more. So, generosity demonstrates my faith.

6) GENEROSITY REVEALS MY CHARACTER. In other words it shows what kind of heart you really have. It shows, Do I have a selfish heart or do I have an unselfish heart? Do I have a generous heart or a stingy heart? Giving – generosity – shows what my heart is really like. God uses money to test what’s really inside of you, to see if he can trust you with more. God says if you’re faithful with little things, I’ll give you more things. In the Bible God promises if you’re faithful with that which is not your own – what I loan you while you’re on earth – I will give you greater blessing in eternity.

     You may not realize this but the rewards and responsibilities that you have in heaven are going to be based on how you manage your money. Jesus said in Luke 16:11 “If you are untrustworthy with worldly wealth, [You don’t manage your money well; you’re not generous with it; if you’re untrustworthy with worldly wealth...] who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” And the answer is, nobody. God won’t. Your responsibility and rewards in heaven are going to be built on how you handled what God gave you right now. What did you do with what you were given?

7) GENEROSITY BRINGS God’S BLESSING. If you want God’s blessing on your life you must learn to not be a miser, to not be stingy. You must learn to be open-handed with what God has given you – helping other people with everything you’ve got. The more you give away your time, your talent, your treasure – the more God will give you. Giving brings God’s blessing. Proverb 22:9 “Generous people will be blessed...” You either believe that or you don’t. But God said it and it’s true. Deuteronomy 15:10 “Give generously…then because of this God will bless you in all your work…and in everything you put your hand to.” You want God to bless you in your work, and in everything you put your hand to? There’s the answer right there: give generously. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 “God loves the one who gives gladly.And God will make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.” Generosity brings God’s blessing.

8) GENEROSITY INCREASES MY HAPPINESS. The Apostle Paul recalls Jesus’ own words in Acts 20:35 “Jesus said, ‘There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.’” Admit it: when you were a child, your joy likely came from the presents you got not from the presents you gave to other people. As children we are immature and tend to be self centered. When you become a grandparent, it’s not so much about the presents you get: instead, your joy comes from watching other people unwrap the gifts you’ve given to them. Why? Because you grew up! You’ve stopped being self centered: itt stopped being “all about me”. That’s called maturity.

     Unfortunately some people never grow up. And at eighty years old it’s still all about them – What am I getting out of this? And they’ve never learned the joy of generosity. Generosity increases my happiness.

9) GENEROSITY EXPANDS MY INFLUENCE. The more generous you become, the more influential you will become. Influence comes not from what you get in life: influence comes from what you give away in life, and the more you give away, the more influential you’ll be.

     Note, there’s a difference between being famous and being influential: a lot of famous people lack influence. Many selfish people who are famous don’t have real influence. When you want to help other people, influence comes from generosity.

     Proverb 11:24 “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy will get smaller and smaller.”

Also Psalm 112:9 “Those who give generously to those in need will never be forgotten [You want a legacy? Help the poor – you’ll never be forgotten...] they will have influence and honour.”

     When Kay and Rick Warren got married, they started tithing their income – ten percent. At the end of their first year of marriage they raised our giving to the Lord and to charity to eleven percent; second year, 12%; third year, they raised it three percent. The fourth year, they kept adding. Even in tough times they’d always raise their giving a little bit. Why? Rick Warren explains, “Because I wanted my heart to grow bigger every year. I wanted to be more like Jesus. I wanted to be godly. I wanted to be like God. I wanted to be holy.”

     They kept raising their giving from 20% to 30, 40, 50, 60, seventy percent. For the last ten years or so they’ve given away ninety one percent of our income and live on nine. Rick says, “We do that because you cannot out give God. And God says you give to me and I’ll give to you. And you know what I’ve learned? It’s that while my giving went up, so did my influence.”

     A senator once asked Rick Warren when he was testifying in Washington DC, “Why do you think God chose you to write the best selling nonfiction hard back of all time?” Rick replied, “Because God knew he could trust me with the money. God knew that I would not spend it on myself. I wouldn’t go buy a bigger house. I wouldn’t go buy a bigger car. I wear a watch from Walmart. I drive a fifteen year old Ford truck. God knew I wouldn’t spend the money on myself. I would use it to help other people.”

     You might say to yourself, “If I wrote a gazillion seller I’d give away millions too!” No you wouldn’t. Because you’re not being generous right now. Rick recalls, “I was generous when we were out of work. And I was generous when we had no money. And I was generous when the cupboard was bare...I had a forty year track record of being generous. And God knew he could trust me. And with that generosity came additional influence.”

10) GENEROSITY MULTIPLIES MY MONEY. God has worked out the universe in such a way that when I give God ten percent of my income – that’s called tithing – that he makes the ninety percent go farther than if I had a hundred percent on my own. Proverbs 11:25 “A generous man will prosper; He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched [Circle that word - that means you’re going to have more than you have right now.You will be enriched...] So that [You can be a fat cat and spend it all on yourself? No! You will be enriched so that…] you can give even more generously.” God multiplies your money. It’s as if you’re playing a little game where God says, “You give to me and I’ll give to you and you give to others and I’ll give to you and we’ll see who wins.” You’re never going to win the generosity game! You can’t outgive God. Generosity multiplies my money.

11) GENEROSITY BRINGS God’S PROTECTION. On your family, on your business, on your own life. Psalm 112:5-6 “All goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly.[Two of those factors we mentioned at the start: integrity and generosity right there] Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. [Notice it doesn’t say you’re not going to have evil circumstances: it says you’re not overthrown by them.Everybody has tough times; there’s no guarantee of a problem free life.You’re going to have evil circumstances in your life.But when you’re generous, God says I’ll make sure you’re not blown away by them.] God’s constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it.” They’ll say, “Look at that guy! He’s blessed even in tough times; God is blessing him even when things are going wrong in his life and all around him.” Generosity brings God’s protection. Last:

12) GENEROSITY WILL BE REWARDED IN HEAVEN. 1 Timothy 6:18-19 “Use [your] money to do good...” Circle the word “use”: money is to be used, it’s not to be loved, it’s to be used. If you use money, you love people; but if you start loving money, you’re going to use people. Money is a tool: it’s neither good nor bad in itself, money is just neutral. You can use it for good or you can use it for bad.

     People might object, “Doesn’t the Bible say money is the root of all evil?” No; what it actually does say is that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1Tim.6:10). You’re to love people and use money; not the other way around. So he says use your money to do good; let’s continue… “…always being ready to share with others whatever God has given you.By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for [yourself] in heaven—it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they [that’s us] will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.” You can’t take it with you. You never see a hearse pulling a U-haul! You can’t take it with you BUT you can send it on ahead. How? Four times in Scripture Jesus says store up treasure in heaven. How do you bank in heaven? By investing in people who are going there. By investing in Kingdom work, getting on board with your church’s outreach. Getting people into heaven, strong, growing. Jesus implies that’s investing in heaven.

     One of the most important things that Jesus said is this next verse. Luke 16:9 “I tell you, use your worldly resources [That’s your money] to benefit others [Not yourself – WHO? others] and make friends.[What did he mean by that? Let’s explore that] In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.”

     What does it mean to use my worldly resources to benefit others and “make friends”? He’s not saying go out and buy a bunch of friends, like the prodigal son’s fair-weather friends. What he’s saying is this: Take some of your money and use it to build bridges of friendship to bring people to Jesus Christ who are then going to be saved and they’re going to go to heaven with you. And when you get to heaven, there will be people in heaven who greet you and say, “You’re here! Thank God for all you did.You gave some money that brought me to Jesus Christ.I’m in heaven because of you.I’m your friend forever.”

     Is anybody going to be in heaven because of the way you use your money? Remember Rick and Kay, investing constantly over the years? They’re going to have tens of thousands of friends in heaven because of the way they used their money. Is anybody going to be in heaven because of the way you used your money? Are you going to have any friends up there because people say, “Thank you.I’m here because of you.You bought a Bible, you gave towards VBS or sent me to Christian summer camp or sponsored that children’s ministry, you supported a missionary, you sponsored a project; you built a church; you helped the program; you did other things…and through that I came to know the Lord.I’m here because of you.I’m your friend forever.”

     That’s what it means to be rewarded in heaven; and those are rewards you’re going to have forever. Everything I spend on myself on earth, I’m losing...BUT everything I invest in others and in God’s work, I’m going to gain again in heaven. What’s the better deal? Which investment is going to really LAST?

     Where do I want to keep my greatest wealth? Here where I get to use it for 70-80-90 years – or in heaven where I get to use it for trillions of years in eternity? It’s a no-brainer! Generosity will be rewarded in heaven. Let’s pray.