How do we as Christians buck the cultural trend and instead of being
directed by fear, greed, scarcity, go deeper into God’s grace and generosity?
We’ve been in a series called The Deeper Life, and we’ve been talking about five things that the earliest Christians, the first Christians, did to experience the deeper life that God promised them, that Jesus promised. And so, we’ve been talking about meeting together and seeking God daily through prayer, Bible, and journal. We’ve been talking about serving and how when you serve, you enter the deeper purpose that God has made you for in your life. Today we’re going to be talking about giving, that when we give, we enter deeper into God’s grace and generosity for us.
I just want to take a poll in the room, just to get a feeling for where we’re at on this issue. How many of you would say you would love to experience more of God’s goodness, generosity, favor, blessing and goodness and kindness in your life? Okay. Right, I think that’s everybody. We would all love to experience more of that in our lives.
There’s a fantastic story in the Bible where this huge crowd, far bigger than this, this huge crowd comes to Jesus while he’s out on this flat place. They want the same thing. They want to know how they can experience more of God’s goodness, more of God’s favor, more of God’s blessing in their life. They come to Jesus expecting that he’s going to teach them something amazing.
They come to Jesus thinking that he’s going to say something like, “All right, guys, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to get our swords, we’re going to get our torches, and we’re going to kick these Romans out. We’re going to take back the land that God gave us. This is our land. This is our land.” Then everyone’s going to go, “This is our land. This is … ,” this weird chant sort of thing.
This is what they were expecting, that Jesus was going to talk to them about how they could get back their land, how they could get back control, how they could become a nation again. This was the deeper life that they were expecting Jesus to talk about, to kick out the Romans.
And instead Jesus said, “Hey, if you want to experience the kingdom of God, if you want to experience this deeper life that God has promised to you, love your enemies.” At that point, I’m sure there was a few, “Boo! That’s not what we came here for.” That’s not what they were expecting. They wanted something different.
Jesus even went so far as to say, in that section about loving your enemies, he went so far as to say, “If anyone asks anything of you, just give it to them.” This was a people who were oppressed by the Romans, who a Roman soldier could come up and ask for your shoes, for the cloak off your back, and you’d have to give it to them. And Jesus is affirming that and saying, “Yeah, just give it to them.”
They’re thinking, “No, this is not how we experience the deeper life. It’s not by just giving it. We want to get something from God.” Very much like us. We want to get something from God. And yet Jesus tells them something they’re not expecting to hear.
Jesus, in Luke 6:38, in this very scene, tells them this. To the people who want to experience this deeper life, who want to have more of God’s blessing and favor in their life, he says this very unexpected thing. He says, “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.”
They’re thinking, “Wait, timeout, Jesus. You’re supposed to say ‘get’, ‘take’, ‘get the land back’,” and yet Jesus is saying, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together,” because with the measure you use, God’s going to measure it out to you.
Paradoxically, our culture believes that getting, not giving is the key to the good life. I buy into this all the time. I’m constantly thinking about the next thing that I want to get. I’m constantly thinking about like, “Oh, if I just get this thing or that thing, then I’m going to experience happiness. Like if I … ”
While I was writing this message this week, all of a sudden, out of nowhere on the internet, this shoe ad popped up. It was for these Nike 270s, like amazing colorways. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I have to have those shoes.” So I put it in my shopping cart and I almost clicked checked out when I remember what message I was giving this weekend. It’s not about getting, it’s about giving.
Jesus says when you give, it’s actually the way to enter the deeper life, to experience more of God’s blessing and favor in your life. So how do we as Christians buck the cultural trend, and instead of being directed by our desires to get, how do we be directed by God’s grace and generosity in our lives? Jesus says the key to that, the key to experiencing God’s generosity is to give.
And so, the short answer … It’s easy to say, but harder to do … is to just give your whole life to Jesus. If you want to experience all of God’s blessings, all of God’s favor, give your whole life to Jesus. But before we jump into giving our whole life to Jesus, it all starts with God’s generosity to us. We can give our whole lives to him because he’s already given us his whole life on the cross through the person of Jesus. Amen.
So we’re going to be looking at three different texts today. It’s a little bit more of a topical message. As we go through these texts, I’m going to try to pull out the truth of God’s generosity for us and how we respond in generosity to him and to the people around us.
Before we dive into the word, I’m going to ask you to pray with me. Jesus, we come to you as people who want to hear. That’s why we’re present because we want to hear from you. So God, would you speak loud and clear to us? God, would your word encourage us, transform us, be a breath of life into our souls that we would be able to grasp onto and hear from you? Then, God, would you help us to walk in step with you each and every day? You’re walking along with us. Would you help us to do that as we hear your word today? We pray this in Jesus’ name, and everybody said …
Amen. Amen. Point number one is this: God is generous to me. God is generous to me. So we’re going to turn to our first passage. It’s 2 Peter 1:2-3. 2 Peter 1:2-3 is on page 1051. So if you want to pass the Bibles down the rows, make sure everybody’s got a Bible, or everybody’s sharing a Bible, because we’re going to be looking at this passage, 2 Peter 1:2-3. It’s on page 1051.
As we’re getting there, we’re talking about God’s generosity to us. The guy who’s writing this letter knows a lot about God’s generosity. This is Peter, a man who was a disciple of Jesus, who happened to deny Jesus how many times? Three times. And yet Jesus came back and said, “Actually, Peter, you’re the guy I want. You’re the guy I want to build my church on. You’re the guy I want to lead my people. Even though you denied me, I’m reinstating you because I love you.”
Peter knew a lot about God’s generosity through Jesus, how he loved him abundantly. So this is who’s speaking to us about God’s love and abundance and his generosity to us.
Peter in 2 Peter 1:2 says, “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Peter’s saying, “Look, God has given you everything you need for life and godliness.” I think the NIV here actually translates the Greek New Testament incorrectly because the Greek New Testament uses two different words, life and godliness, meaning God has given you everything you need for the life you have and everything you need to live in a way that honors him. And so often we take everything that God has given us, but we don’t take all the resources he’s giving us to honor him with them.
And so, Peter is saying, “Look, God’s given you everything you need for life and godliness.” I love that he starts with, “May grace and peace be yours in abundance.” How many of you would love to have peace and abundance in your life? Yeah. But, instead, what do we have? We have stress in abundance. We have anxiety in abundance. We have fear in abundance. And Peter is saying, “God wants you to have peace and abundance.”
I love that he says, grace, grace in abundance. Grace is God’s favor that causes rejoicing in your life. So God’s favor that you’re able to see, touch, smell, hear, and feel. This is God’s favor, that when you see it, you just go, “Wow! Thank you so much, God.” And Peter says that he prays that we would have that abundantly through Jesus, that we would have incredible favor that makes us rejoice in our life through Jesus. This is what God wants for us. What he’s done for us is that he’s been incredibly generous to us through his goodness and his glory.
As parents, Sarah and I provide everything that our kids need for life and godliness. Great examples, godly examples. We’re just amazing examples for our kids. But, no, we provide everything they need to live, right? We’ve given them a house and shoes and clothes. Everything they need, we’ve given it to them.
When Paxton opens the fridge, he’s not surprised that there’s food there because we continue to give him everything that he needs. We we supply it for him. Whose food is it in the fridge?
No, it’s my food. I bought that food. I bought that food and I put it … It’s not Paxton’s. I bought it and I put it there, and I put it there for him because I love him. In the same way, when you open the fridge of your life, so often we’re not shocked that God has put incredible things in our lives.
We take God’s generosity for granted. We open the fridge and we go, “Oh, yeah. I expected there to be things here,” not realizing that everything in the fridge belongs to God, everything that when we open the doors of our life and see all of these good things, those are all things that God owns and he put there because he loves us.
And yet we take them for granted. We just expect that it’s going to be there. We expect that God’s going to provide for us in these ways, we expect that we’re going to wake up in the morning, we expect that there’s going to be air for us to breathe and lungs for us to process that air, and we expect that we’re just going to have great relations, all these different things that God has provided for us. We take his generosity for granted. We forget that he’s given us so much.
So don’t forget that your fridge is full because God loves you. Don’t forget that when you open the doors of your life and you see good things, it’s because God put them there, because he cares for you.
How much does God love us, though? How much does God really love people like you and me who keep getting it wrong, who keep messing up, who keep going the wrong direction, even though he’s giving us the right direction? How much does God love us?
In John 3:16, it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For God so loved that he gave. God’s incredible love expresses itself in ultimate generosity. He gave himself for you and for me. The Father sent his son to save us from sin and save us to abundant life.
See, we were on a collision course with death because of our sin, and Jesus jumped in and took our place and saved us. Now some people will ask like, “Man, why did Jesus have to die? Why did Jesus have to die on the cross for our sins? It doesn’t make sense. Couldn’t a good God just forgive us of our sins?”
That’s a really good question. How many of you have Disney Plus? You’re like, “Where are you going?” Trust me. If you look through Disney Plus, it’s this whole catalog of all the Disney movies forever and ever. If you go back to the first ones and then catalog your way through all of the Disney movies, you’re going to see that Disney changed the narrative of what ultimate love is. Because in the first movies, ultimate love was this romantic love. It was about the prince getting the princess. That’s what ultimate love, was this romantic love.
Then they started changing the narrative. One of the most impactful movies where you saw the narrative change was in Frozen, when all of a sudden Hans, Dirtbag Hans, is about to kill Elsa. He’s about to kill Elsa, and who jumps in? Anna jumps in the way to take the blow for her sister because she loves her that much. And yet Elsa was the one who would put ice on Anna’s heart, who had incredibly damaged Anna.
In the same sense, Jesus came and took the blow of sin for you and me. In the same way, we’re the ones who, through sin, have broken God’s heart. And yet he would come in the way and take the blow for his enemies for you and me because he loves us that much.
Jesus got in the way of the blow of sin to save us from death because he loves us with everything that he is. So from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, God has poured out his generosity through love and forgiveness into your life.
God loves you, so he gave, he gave his son Jesus. In fact, generosity is God’s calling card in your life. If you were to look through your life and catalog all the things that are good in your life, that you’ve been given in your life, it’s all a sign of God’s generosity and love. It’s his calling card in your life. And because we have a giving God, we’ve been called to be a giving people. Because we have a generous God, we’ve been called to be a generous people.
I love in Matthew 10:8, Jesus looks at his disciples whom he’s raised up, whom he’s given authority, whom he’s given this position around him, and he says, “Freely you’ve received so freely give,” in the same way you and I have received freely from Jesus, and we are called to give freely because of his generosity in our lives. I believe that generosity is the center of the gospel message, “For God so loved the world that he gave,” which means our generosity is always in response to his.
But why should we be generous? I mean wouldn’t just be nice to just keep receiving God’s generosity in our lives and not have to worry about giving it out. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be this unfillable bucket where God constantly dumps his generosity in your life? I believe that one of the ways we experience more of God’s generosity is by becoming generous ourselves, and that’s what Jesus says in Luke 6:38.
We’re going to go to point number two: I should be generous because … I want to give you three reasons why you should be generous. A, I should be generous because giving transforms me spiritually. Giving transforms me spiritually.
A pastor and author, Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, says this. He says, “The heart is an idol factory that takes good things and turns them into ultimate things.” My heart is really good at taking good things and making them ultimate things. My heart is really good at making idols out of good things that God has given me and putting them on his throne in my life. I’ve had to become really good about kicking things out of my life early before they start taking root in my heart, before they start making their home in my heart.
So even just yesterday, I downloaded this app on my phone. Before I even opened the app, I deleted it because I knew it wasn’t going to be good in my life. I’ve had to get good at just pushing things out of my life that are not going to be honoring to God, that are going to take away from him rather than help me be generous to him.
Every heart is a home, and every heart that is a home has a master suite in it. As you try to put Jesus in the master suite, what do you have to move out? I wonder if you’re trying to put Jesus into the master suite, but there’s already an occupant in there. And when you start giving, it releases the hold that idols have on your life.
These things that are good that you’ve made ultimate releases the hold when you start giving. So when you start giving, when you start entering the act of generosity, it starts kicking out materialism and financial security and comfort out of the master suite of your heart so you can put Jesus in there.
Gospel generosity is the habit of daily asking Jesus, “Because all of this is yours, what do you want to give away today? What do you want to give away, God? Because this is not mine. Everything that I see, everything that’s in my life belongs to you. So what do you want to give away?”
I love Proverbs 11:25. It says, “A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” Giving gets rid of the toxicity of greed in your heart. When you give cheerfully, it pushes the reset button on your soul.
So if you’re feeling tired or weary or ragged or busy, give something extra to somebody today and push the reset button on your soul. Let God refresh you as you refresh someone else. So I should be generous because … And the first point is it transforms me spiritually.
B is giving shows God he can trust me with more. Giving shows God he can trust me with more. So we’re going to turn to our second passage. It’s Luke 16:10-11. Luke 16:10-11. It’s page 899.
In this passage, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees. This specific group of Pharisees, we learn at the end of this passage, love money way too much. They’ve allowed money to reside in the master suite of their heart. Because of that, they’ve made decisions that are not honoring to God. Instead of being generous with their money, they’ve actually started consuming widows’ households. They’ve been stealing from widows, the people who are the most vulnerable in their society. Instead of being generous with what God has given them, they start taking from those who need their generosity the most.
And so, Jesus is talking to these Pharisees, these Pharisees that are consuming widows’ households. He says this in Luke 16:10-11. He says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
He looks at these Pharisees and he says, “Guys, God’s entrusted to you what’s in your hands. And yet instead of being generous with it, instead of managing God’s money well, you start taking from the people who are most vulnerable because you’ve allowed money to reside in your heart.” Later on, Jesus says, “You can’t serve both God and money, that only one can live in the master suite of your heart.”
See, just like the Pharisees, God has entrusted you with everything that you have, but not everything that you have is for you. The more you end up giving away, the more God knows he can trust you to manage well.
Over the last few years, Sarah and I have made a commitment to increase our giving above tithing. As we’ve continued to step up our giving above tithing, then God has boomeranged our generosity back to us. We’ve experienced God giving us more money and more opportunities and more answered prayers and more dreams fulfilled. I can attest to this that when you start giving, God can trust you with more.
Verse 11, Jesus says, “If God can’t trust you with worldly wealth, he’s not going to put true riches in your hands.” What are true riches? Jesus isn’t talking about like, hey, true riches. It’s the mansion and the boat and the helicopter. How many of you would love a helicopter? Wouldn’t it just be nice to have a helicopter every once in a while?
That’s not what Jesus is talking about. What are the true riches? The true riches are the things that we’re going to receive in the resurrection life, because one day believers in Jesus will be resurrected with him at the end of time to rule with him, to be inheritors with him, to be the people who get all of God’s blessing and favor in the life to come. That’s what Jesus is talking about.
And so, he’s saying, look, if you can’t handle the opportunities that you have now, these opportunities that he’s placed in your hands, how are you going to handle true riches? If God can’t trust you with this to manage his resources well, how can he trust you with the true riches and the life to come?
So that’s why Jesus says, in Luke 6:38, we read this at the very beginning, he says, “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.” How many of you want to be blessed greatly by God in your life? If you want to be blessed greatly, Jesus says give greatly.
C, I should become generous, or I should be generous, because giving is the best apologetic. Giving is the best apologetic. Apologetics is the art of defending your religious beliefs. Traditional apologetics have, for the most part, lost a little bit of their edge, because we live in a culture now where truth is considered relative. People will say, “Hey, great. That’s your truth, but this is my truth.” Excuse me, I thought there was just one truth. That’s the nature of truth, right? But we live in this culture where if you say, “Man, this is my religious belief,” people say, “That’s great for you. I’m so glad for you, but that’s not for me. My truth is this.”
And so, traditional apologetics have lost a bit of their edge. But giving, I think, is the best apologetic because people can disagree with your religious beliefs. People can discourage your religious beliefs, but they can’t disagree with our generosity. When they see us being generous, they can’t be like, “Oh, I don’t see that,” because they see it. They see how Jesus has transformed our very lives. How we handle our possessions is one of the greatest ways to prove that Jesus is Lord in our life.
Again, Tim Keller, pastor and author, says this of the early church. He says, “The early church was strikingly different from the culture around it in this way: the pagan society was stingy with its money and promiscuous with its body. A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians came along and gave practically nobody their body and gave practically everybody their money.”
The way that the Christians, these first Christians, handled their possessions was a sign of who was Lord in their life. It showed people in a dramatic fashion that they were not the owners of their lives and the owners of their wealth, but they were the managers. God is the owner.
Jesus says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. The reason why is when you give, it not only blesses you and opens the blessings from heaven for God to pour them down on you, but it helps people to see that God is Lord, that Jesus is Lord of your life.
So we may look at these three reasons and go, “Wow! I would love to give, but … ” For many of us, there’s a lot of hurdles to get over before we can start giving. There’s fear. For many of us, we fear like, “Okay. Will I have enough if I start giving to God and to the poor? Will I have enough at the end of the month? Will I have enough at the end of the year? Will I have enough when I retire? If I’m going to be generous to God, am I going to have enough?”
For many of us, there’s many people in the room who have a hard time seeing how they could give and still pay down their debt, because their debt is strangling their desire for generosity in their life. Many people just look at their budget and they go, “I don’t think I can spare anything.”
And so, there’s a lot of hurdles that we have to overcome to become generous. We may know why we should be generous, but we don’t know how to become generous. So that’s point number three: I can become generous by … And A is this. I can become generous by building a kingdom budget. By building a kingdom budget. Building a budget is a way of determining your priorities with your finances.
So there’s three basic ways you can use your money. You can spend it, you can save it, and you can give it. That’s basically it. You can do those three things. There are iterations of them, but those are the three basic categories of how to use your money. A kingdom budget is based on God’s generosity to you and his command for you to be generous to him and to others.
So I’m going to put up three different budgets, three different ways that you can orient those three categories of using money and go through what our culture says, what wisdom says, and then what Jesus says and how Jesus reorients all of them.
So our culture would say that you should spend money and save money. That’s basically what our culture will tell you. nerdwallet.com breaks down your budget like this. They say if you’re going to build a budget, you should build it this way. 50% should go to your necessities, 30% of your budget should go to your wants, and 20% of your budget should go to debt and savings. So they just say spend it and save it. There’s no room for giving at nerdwallet.com. Sorry, nerdwallet.com. If you’re listening, build a better budget.
Wisdom, because there’s going to be places that give you better wisdom than that, because spending first and saving last is really dumb. There’s wisdom in saving first. And so, there’s going to be places that will tell you to save first and then spend. As a bonus, you could give.
So thebalance.com is another financial website for dummies like me. They suggest that you should break your budget down into percentages. They say you should save first and then you can spend on all these different things. Then literally at the very end, a bonus is that you could give your money. And so, giving is just kind of this addon for wisdom that says, well, really you should save it and spend it. Giving is just if you want to.
But Jesus radically reorients these three. He says the very first thing you should do is give. Give to God as a way to honor God for all that he’s done for you. Then save and then spend.
I’ve heard that building a basic kingdom budget, you can break down the percentages in this. The foundational kingdom budget is you give the first 10% to God, then you give 10% to your savings, and then you take the rest of the 80% and live off of it. So 10-10-80. That’s a basic kingdom budget.
And why does Jesus say that we should give first? What is the reason that you should give first? Well, one, it’s to honor God with what he’s given you. But second is this. Whatever you save and spend in this life, you’re going to lose. But whatever you give in this life, you get to keep for eternity, because Jesus says, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” When you are generous, you are storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven. You are putting a deposit and a heavenly bank account that is getting divine interest, and those divine interest rates are good, let me tell you.
So you can save and spend now, but you’re going to lose all of that. But whatever you give now, God credits to your bank account in heaven. And so, that’s why he says give first. Man, give first as a way to honor God and as a way to store up treasures in heaven. See, as long as you keep your money from God, your money will keep you from God.
So Jesus, the person who came to bring us close to God. That’s why he talks about money so often. He says, “Man, give your money to God so you can be close to God.” But if you keep your money from him, it’s going to keep you away from him as well.
So I can become generous by building a kingdom budget. B, I could become generous by tithing or working towards it. I can become generous by tithing or working towards it. So tithing was the baseline generosity in the Old Testament. A tithe means to give a tenth, and the Jews were commanded from the earliest time on to give a tenth of all that they made first to God. So they’d give a tenth of their sheep and goats and their spices and all of those things. They’d give that first 10% to God as a way to honor him for all that he had given to them.
The Jews practiced this well sometimes and not so well at other times. But we’re going to look at a passage where God encourages them to do it, and one of the reasons why they would do. It’s Malachi 3:10, page 823. Would you turn there with me, Malachi 3:10?
God is talking to the Jews ,and they have been withholding the tithe from God. They’ve not been giving the full tithe to him. God says, “Look, you should do this and here’s why.” We don’t know why they’ve been withholding the tithe. Maybe they were afraid of not having enough at the end of the month. Maybe they were fearful about paying down debts. We’re not really sure why they weren’t doing it, but God encourages them to do it by saying this in Malachi 3:10.
He says, “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 flood gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will be not room enough to store it in your life.'”
God says, “Look, bring the whole tithe to me and I will open the flood gates of heaven in your life.” He says, “Test me in this and I will pour out my blessings into your life. If you honor me with that first 10%,” you’re going to be surprised by how generous God is. If you start tithing, you’re going to be surprised by how God makes that 90% stretch in your life and his additional generosity in your life. Again, I’m not telling you that God’s going to make you rich when you start tithing, but God is going to meet every need that you have and then some.
People would look at me and go, “Lay Pastor Michael, tithing is an Old Testament principle and we are New Testament believers. A tithe is the law, but we’re no longer under the law. We’re under grace.” They’d say, “Tithing doesn’t apply to me, Pastor Michael. That’s why I don’t do it.” So I’d say, okay, let’s look at the first Christians. Do you think the first Christians tithed?
So yes and no. Acts 4:32, it’s very interesting. It says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything that they had.” Okay, so if you’re making the argument, “Tithe is Old Testament. I’m longer under the old Testament law. I’m under grace,” if you want to be under grace, you should liquidate all of your resources and bring them here to us and say, “How does God want to use these?”
So would you rather start with the tithe or start with everything that you have? The argument doesn’t hold up. The reason why we go to the tithe is we say here’s the baseline of generosity for us to start working towards offering everything that we have to God. It’s really hard to get to 100% right off the bat. But can you start with 10% and allow God to start blessing you in your life?
And so, they did this, they tithed on their first 10%. Tithing is the first financial goal of all believers. Apparently, it’s God’s big blessing line in our lives. If we step over this line, God will promise to open the floodgates of heaven and bless us in incredible ways.
So how do I start tithing? Again, many of us are fearful of it. We don’t know where to start or how to start. So I’m going to give you four simple ways to start working towards tithing in your life.
Point number one is this: start somewhere. Start somewhere. You may be like, “Man, I can’t give 10% right now, “but can you give 2%? Can you give 3% and allow God to build your faith and build generosity in your life as he continues to show his generosity to you? So start somewhere. Don’t allow your inability to get to 10% right now to stop you from doing something right now.
Number two is live simply. Again, in Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus says, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” So often what happens is we don’t have any resources, we don’t have any money to give to God because we’ve spent all of our resources storing up treasures on earth. If we can learn to live a little more simply, if we could learn to say no to the things that we don’t actually need so that we can give God the first of all that we have as a way to honor him. And so, live simply is the second way to start working towards tithing.
Number three is eliminate debt. Eliminate debt. How many of you know that debt will have a stranglehold on your finances, that debt is something that will squelch the generosity out of your life? And so, if you want to be more generous, you’ve got to start working towards eliminating debt.
Romans 13:8, Paul tells the Romans, and he tells us, he says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others fulfills the whole law.” If you need help figuring out how to get out of debt, again, Financial Peace University is a great tool to help you overcome your debt. While you’re doing that, you can start being generous, trusting that God is going to help you overcome your debt. So eliminate debt.
Finally, number four is grow your giving. If you’re giving 2%, start giving 3%. If you’re giving 4%, start giving 6%. Grow you giving. Dave Ramsey says this. He says, “Giving is the most fun you’ll ever have with your money.” How many of you know that that’s true?
I mean when you start giving your money away and it’s lighting up people’s lives with your generosity, it is so much fun. So continue to grow your giving. That’s B.
Then, finally, C of how do I become generous, I become generous by staying gospel-centered. By staying gospel-centered. Centering my life on all he did for me will transform all I do for him.
Generosity is caught from God. The more that you and I experience his generosity in our lives, the more that we will reflect that generosity to him and the world around us. So if you want to live the deeper life, it starts with Jesus’ generosity.
How do we as Christians buck the cultural trend? Instead of going deeper into debt and greed and fear, how do we go deeper into God’s grace and generosity? Jesus tells us … It’s easy to say, it’s harder to do … but give your whole life to him.
I want to tell you that there’s a real recipe for disaster, and it’s giving something to others before you’ve given it to Jesus. If you start giving your money or your time to others before you’ve given that to Jesus, it’s going to disorder who is in the master suite of your heart. You want to give everything first to Jesus and let him decide along with you how he wants you to manage and steward your money. So give everything to him.
This is in response to his incredible generosity to us. When you give your whole life to Jesus, he pours out more of his love and peace and favor and joy and his Holy Spirit into your life. By emptying yourself, you actually make room for him.
A farmer takes the seed and he plants it in the ground. Does he cry when he plants his seeds? No. Even though he’s taking something that’s incredibly valuable to him and putting it in the dirt, he’s actually rejoicing when he plants the seeds because he knows that those seeds are going to grow and produce a harvest.
In the same way, when we sow generously, when we sow seeds of generosity in our lives, we don’t have to be fearful. We don’t have to be sad about giving generously. We get to be joyful because we know that God is going to make those seeds grow, that God is going to use that far better than we ever could. God is going to use that to bear fruit for the gospel and his kingdom in our lives and in this world.