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Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

generosity“Tis more blessed to give than to receive” is a nice saying, a comforting thought, and even found in scripture. The reality is, however, during those times when we are completely honest with ourselves, we admit it’s easier to live by the adage, “It’s far better to receive than
it is to give.”

There’s ‘good reason’ for that of course. We all know the horror stories of people who have taken advantage of the system. These are the ones that feel they are entitled, for a variety of reasons, to a free ride. They make constant excuses for the way they are and fail to take responsibility for the condition they are in.

It’s amazing to me that some of the stingiest people are those who claim to follow Christ. They put qualifications on their giving such as economic need, church background, race, sexual orientation and the list goes on. It seems we are afraid we may be taken advantage of, or that someone may get something they don’t deserve.

It’s a complex issue with no easy answers I suppose, but I think the question of generosity can be summed up in our response to two concepts that Jesus himself taught. The first of these is ownership, in other words, who owns what you have? The Psalmist states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” (Psalm 24:1) If that verse is true (insert sarcasm here) then we need to realize that the car you are still making payments on isn’t yours. Never has been, never will be. There doesn’t seem to be much vacillation in the word ‘everything’. One may argue that we are called to be good stewards of all that is given us and that’s true. But do we refuse to give out of stewardship or greed?

The second issue that keeps us from being generous is simplicity. Especially for those of us in the United States, we like to be comfortable and we like to have the latest toys. (insert my own guilt in this regard here). It’s interesting that Jesus seems to call each of us to homelessness in Matthew 8:20 when someone says they will follow him anywhere (discipleship) and he responds by saying “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

The point is this. Are we willing to give from our surplus or sacrificially? I’m not just about money, I’m talking about our gifts, our talents, the fruit of the Spirit (you know, that whole love, joy, peace thing). There are lonely people all around us. Many would just love to get a smile, a hug, a visit, a card in the mailbox.

Jesus didn’t win people over by his great sermons. The New Testament Church didn’t turn the world upside down by placing requirements on who could join. How can you and I give in a way that will change someone’s world?

PRAYER: Father, I confess that I’m far more willing to give of my excess than to give sacrificially. I’ve grown far too comfortable from the many blessings you’ve given me. Help me to see those in need around me and empower me to do what you can to make a difference in their lives. Amen.



The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor. Proverbs 22:9

Society tells us that there is blessing in riches. Oh, we don’t say it out loud of course. We say “It’s more blessed to give than receive.” We say “Money can’t buy happiness”. The reality is, businesses spend millions of dollars each year in advertising with glitzy signs, clever slogans and the famous ‘Super Bowl Ads’ all in effort to tempt our insatiable palate  which constantly screams for more!

How many times have you said, or at the very least thought, “If I win the lottery I’ll…”

The reality doesn’t match up with the practice all too often. Unfortunately, it seems to be true more in the Christian realm than I’m comfortable with. In our defense, generosity is risky. Part of the problem is defining ‘the poor’. Jesus said we’ll always have the poor with us. He commends those who give even a cup of water to the needy for their thoughtfulness.

In those honest moments we have to admit that there are many people with very little who are actually very rich in character. They are the ones who work hard to try to get ahead but just never seem to make it happen. They are the ones who struggle with a variety of health issues. They are the ones who would give you the shirt off their backs…if they had one.

generosity 10.6.15Then there are those who are, for lack of a better term, are leeches. They have discovered that they can actually make a pretty good living by taking whatever they can get. It is these people who are, in a sense, poor twice. They are the ones who take advantage of our generosity and use us. Within non-profit, and especially ministry circles, they are the ones we look out for because they will use our resources without any conscience.

The struggle of my heart is this. Was Jesus ever concerned about being taken advantage of? Did he ever scrutinize those in need as to their character? The reality is, I think not. He didn’t put any stipulations on who benefitted from his generosity.

When you give, do you give according to your perception of the need or do you give in the name of Jesus. Do you give the cup of water to the thirsty when they are capable of getting it themselves or do you hold back and judge their character.

Often, as I write this blog I try to leave us with answers. But today I must confess I have none. I see the dangers of being taken advantage of, but I see the example of a Savior who was unconcerned about motive. Ten lepers went away healed. Only one had the character to return and say thank you.

PRAYER: Father, we confess to you today that we often hold too tightly to what you’ve given us because of our penchant for determining need from a human perspective. Help us have open minds and open hearts to give to those with open hands as you would have us give. Amen.


“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a member of one of those exclusive Country Clubs? You know the kind. Expensive, fancy cars packing the parking lot. Valets making sure you don’t have to bother with parking your car, or going to find it. Great food. Well kept gardens complete with pools. Beautiful scenery. Excellent service always delivered with a smile and a Mr. or Ms.  and, of course, red carpet treatment.

Most of us will never experience that kind of treatment. We wouldn’t meet the entrance qualifications, or wouldn’t have the money it would take to purchase those benefits. At least not in this world.

That’s not the case in God’s Kingdom. In God’s kingdom it’s the poor who are elevated because they are the ones who are most aware of their need for God.

It’s the person who constantly struggles with life who is uplifted because they know how much they need God’s grace.

It’s those who suffer the injustice of broken relationships, addictions and persecution who will feel the warmth of Jesus’ arms as they endure the pain of life.

It’s those who are merciful to those who mistreat them or don’t deserve their generosity that are clothed in the satisfaction only Christ can give. Satisfaction in knowing someone is better because they gave.

It is those who give up their own rights to make sure the rights of others are protected that enjoy the peace that passes all understanding.

The elite Country Club has a long list of qualifications. God has one: Love me and in so doing love yourself and others.

The elite Country Club has membership dues that need to be paid. God paid your dues through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The elite Country Club offers many benefits to make your life comfortable while on earth. God promises and eternal life in heaven with Him, free of pain and heartache, and all because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus you meet the qualifications, the membership dues have been paid, and the benefits will last for eternity.

PRAYER: Holy God. I thank you for the promises of blessings far above what the world offers. There are so many times I feel insecure. So many times I worry. So many times I feel completely inadequate for the task before me. Thank you for Jesus and the comfort, forgiveness and hope for eternity I have in Him. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

 


Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night. Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 (The Message)

The story is told of two gentleman that grew up in a small town in the plains of the USA. Both men were well known in the small town where they lived. One was very rich. He drove the finest cars, his ranch had many acres of wheat and cattle, and the equipment he owned was always the latest model. He never married and lived alone in a huge home on top of a hill outside town. His home was clearly visible to any who would pass by.

The other gentleman lived on a modest ranch. While he had many acres of land his equipment was old and would often break down. He had several children of his own but most of the kids in town called him ‘dad’. It seems there was always a party going on at his modest home with lots of laughing and games and fun!

One day both men fell seriously ill. The wealthy man lay in bed for days until finally, he died. No one found him for months because they seldom saw him around town anyway. The second man was showered with concern and prayers. His chores were gladly taken care of by his children and those in town.

A few days after the first gentleman died there was a small funeral at the local church. Years later, when the second man died the entire town turned out to honor the life of this man. What was the difference between the men? Both men were very wealthy financially, but the difference between the two men is that the first person invested all of his time in making more money, having the newest gadgets and making a ‘name for himself.’

The second man invested his life in relationships. While he could have spent his money on himself, he was far more concerned about helping others and sharing what he had with others.

Solomon, in his wisdom tells each of us to invest the things God has given us in the lives of others. Status, homes, toys and healthy retirement accounts will all come to an end. The things we do to invest in relationships will last for eternity.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you that I am so blessed. I don’t have much money. I’m not world famous by any means. But you’ve given me life! Help me to see ways in which I can share what you have given me with others. In Jesus name, Amen.


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. 2 Corinthians 9:8

There is a story in the book of Acts about a couple who got caught up in the generosity of the Christ-followers in Jerusalem. Everyone was giving away their possessions to help the poor and this couple had some land that they wanted to donate so that they would look good to the others. The problem was they weren’t quite ready to part with ALL the money from that land so they devised a plan where they would lie to the disciples and tell them they sold the land for less than they really did.

The plan backfired on the couple though and they were found out. The consequence for their deceitfulness? Death! God struck them both down in front of everyone. It was a harsh reminder then, and now, of the importance of having the right attitude about our giving. They were not required to give everything to the believers in their group and their motive was pure selfishness.

I don’t have any strong theological reason for saying this, but I wonder if one of the reasons God was so hard on this couple is because He is so generous to us. Paul writes to the church in Corinth to remind them that God gives ALL things at ALL times so we will have ALL we need to do ALL good works. In other words, God doesn’t hold back anything from His vast storehouse of blessing.

Our Heavenly Father wants to bless us generously so that we can bless others generously. We like to think that His blessing is physical and sometimes it is, but more often our blessing comes in the realm of emotional and spiritual blessing. Physical blessing fades away, but the blessing of our hearts can never be taken from us.

Sometimes it’s hard to be generous because extreme generosity is risky for us. We are afraid that if we are too generous our own needs will go unmet. We are afraid that others may misjudge our motives or take advantage of our kindness. Other times (we hate to admit this) we hold back our blessing of others because they have hurt us and we refuse to forgive them.

Our Father is generous to us without conditions and knowing we won’t always appreciate His blessing. As Christ-followers, how we bless others is a reflection of our Father’s generosity to the world around us. Be willing to practice X-treme generosity in the name of Jesus. Take some risks knowing that your kindness may not be returned and that you may be taken advantage of.

PRAYER: Dear Father in Heaven. I confess to you that often my generosity is motivated by my desire for recognition and appreciation. It’s difficult to give to others when I am not appreciated, when I’m misunderstood or when those I’m to bless have hurt me. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to bless those in my corner of the world for your sake and not mine. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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