Be The Church: Generosity

This morning, we’re going to continue our message series ‘Be The Church’.  Last week, we found that the church is us – those called out in Jesus’ name and that it is critical that we gather together frequently.  I hope that each one of us took an opportunity to get together with someone in the church who we don’t really know that well and that you were blessed by that time together.  I want to encourage all of us to make this a habit – that we continue to meet together with one another on a regular basis.
This week, we’re going to take a look at the next thing that we are to have in order to be the church: generosity!
In looking at generosity, it is important to realize that being generous has nothing to do with how much we have or how much money we make.  The richest person in the world could be the stingiest and greediest person in the world and the poorest person in the world could be the most giving and generous person in the world.
We see this real life example as declared by Jesus:
Mark 12:41-44
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said,  “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Spirit of poverty VS. Spirit of generosity
Goes beyond money, but controls our view of all resources (time, money, belongings, etc.)
In comparing these two, I also would like to be clear that what I’m referring to is not that of true poverty, which is a harsh reality for far too many, but rather the poverty spirit or mindset that defines our perspective in regard to what we have at our disposal.  There is a reality beyond our control:
Where waiting in line for your next meal means something entirely different…
Where water contains more than you would expect or desire…
Where the slums and projects as we define them look like mansions….
And where children playing just doesn’t look quite the same…
The difference in these opposing mindsets is that:
Poverty clings to the CREATION (earthly things), Generosity clings to the CREATOR (heavenly Creator of all things)
Poverty:
Uses own need as an excuse not to give
Sees only lack
It’s all about me and what I can get
Fearful toward the future – What if?
Enough is never enough
Always in a state of need/want
Doubts God’s ability to provide
Held in bondage – finances cursed
Generosity:
Gives despite current need
Sees only blessing
It’s all about others and what I can give
Trusts God for the future
Content
Always thankful
Experiences God’s ability to provide
Financial freedom – finances blessed
An extreme of this spirit of poverty is displayed here:
* Hoarders Video *

Whereas the spirit of generosity is displayed here:
* Generosity Story Video *
2 Corinthians 9:6-11
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies 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. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Generosity glorifies God and shows in a practical way our trust in Him and His care for others.
When we are generous, not only are we a blessing to others, but we actually break a curse over our own finances and enable God’s blessing over our finances.  When we withhold, we are actually robbing God and our finances are cursed and are quickly devoured.  God also actually calls us to test Him in this matter.  As we bring our entire tithe into His storehouse (10% of our gross income), we break the curse and allow God to bless us.
It is commonly said, ‘I can’t afford to tithe’, God Himself says, ‘You can’t afford NOT to tithe’!
Malachi 3:6-12
6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

In order to be the church, we must be generous.  This begins with us understanding that everything that we have has been entrusted to us by God Himself.  Everything that we have has come from His hand.  It is all His, we are just stewards of it.  We see such an attitude in the first church:
Acts 2:44-47
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What a pure atmosphere of generosity!  All believers were together and had everything in common – giving to anyone who had need.  In order to be the church, we must be generous with everything that God has given us to be stewards of – our time, money, belongings, everything!  It’s in this atmosphere that God is able to pour out such blessing that we cannot contain it – just as He promised us!
Jesus told us this:
Matthew 6:19-34
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus made it very clear – whether or not we are generous (where our treasure is) is a clear indicator of the condition of our hearts.  Are our hearts set on the things of this earth that will all pass away and from which we can take nothing with us when we pass on from it, or are our hearts set on heaven?  Are they set on the temporary or the eternal?  Are they set on His kingdom or ours?
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
We need to keep a healthy perspective on how we view our resources.  This perspective changes how we view everything else!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
As we truly trust in God, we find that we cannot worry about the necessities in life.  God knows what we need and will be faithful to provide them so long as we are faithful in doing what He has called us to do.
Trust is the root of generosity.  We are generous because we trust in our heavenly father from whom we receive all things is far more generous than we can ever be.  We cannot out give God!  We are generous because we trust in Him.
Also, by being generous, we are fulfilling the two greatest commands in a real and practical way:
Matthew 22:37-39
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
This morning, I want to encourage everyone to take time this week to seek God’s heart in this matter.  Do not allow worries or fear to steal away the blessings that God has planned for us!  Ask Him to reveal and remove any areas of fear or worry in your life.  If you have an area of need, bring it before Him.  Also, if you recall from last week’s message, get together with someone and share it with them!
Also be sure and ask what you have to give that someone else is in need of.  It could be your time for fellowship, a skill or talent that you have, and of course, it could also be money or possessions.  Ask what it is that He has given to you that He is desiring you to be generous with throughout the week.  As we are consistent in doing this and creating an atmosphere of generosity, we’ll find none in need and the work of God able to grow unhindered.  We’ll also find that in this generous spirit that we are more blessed than we could ever hope to be and that through our generosity, that we are being the church, just as He planned for it to be!