Have you ever benefited from the generosity of someone else? As I think about Christ, I can’t help but think about ALL that he gave for me. He gave his life as a sacrifice on the cross that I might have forgiveness.
As I think about an American flag, it reminds me of how much others have given for me that I might have freedom. Even the colors, the red reminds me of the blood of those who died to secure our freedom. We live in a great country today because of the sacrifice of others. It’s easy to forget the sacrifice of others. I know I take so much for granted. It’s also difficult to develop an attitude that is willing to not only give but to sacrifice for others.
We just celebrated Mother’s Day, which reminds us of all that our moms have given! We give cards and presents. If you are have a mom or are married to a mom, for your own well-being, I hope you gave something to the one you love! Maybe you have been like me and thought something crazy like, “What if I didn’t get anything for Niki on Mother’s Day?” How would that go over? You already know the answer. Not well!
One thing about love that I have learned is, I cannot love and NOT give. The most loving thing I do is give my time away, give my life away, give my money away, give myself away. That’s what love is all about. Life is not about just getting by with as little as possible.
Let’s say I come to Niki for her birthday and say, “Honey, I love you! I love you so much! I love you so much I’m going to buy you a gold necklace. I understand there is a bargain basement sale down at Wal-Mart and I want you to go down there. They’re going to have a half off sale on factory rejects that were damaged by the fire and water. I want you to go down there (I don’t want to spend too much!!) so I want you to pick up the cheapest one you can find. Do you understand? The cheapest!! And I want to show my love for you.” Do you think that would take the joy out of the gift? How would Niki feel? How does God feel when you treat him that same way?
How little can I give and still call myself married? Wrong question to ask! How little can I give to God and still claim to be a Christian? Giving is not about how little you can give. It is about how much. This is generosity. Generosity is what God is about. Generosity proves the sincerity of my love. And I will never be like Christ until I learn to be generous in every area of my life. Christ gave it all for me and for you.
Did you know?
- The word believe, or believer, or believing is used 285 times in the bible.
- The word pray, or prayer, or praying is used 375 times.
- The word love, or lover, loves, or loving is used 731 times.
- The word give, giver or giving is used 1,638 times in the bible!
So my question is, where does the Bible put the most emphasis? Giving! The Bible is a book about giving. It’s not something that’s just tacked on to the Christian life. It is the essence of Christian living. Jesus was the ultimate giver. We need to be givers. We need to learn to not only give but to give generously and sacrificially.
Why Should I Be Generous? Generosity helps me grow like Christ
Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)
Our mission statement at The Ridge Fellowship is to “Know Christ and Grow to be like Him.” One of the best ways to be like Christ is to give. He gave. God is a giver. Everything you have is a gift from God. God made everything and everything to give. We have to learn it!
- God made the sun – it gives
- God made the moon – it gives
- God made the stars – they give
- God made the air– it gives
- God made the clouds – they give.
- God made the earth – it gives
- God made the ocean – it gives
- God made the fish – they give
- God made the trees – they give
- God made the grass – it gives
- God made the flowers – they give
- God made the birds – they give
- God made the animals – they give
- God made you – you….? Do you give?
If we want to GROW as a Christ follower we have to learn how to give. If someone says, “I am not growing as a Christian.” A response I often have, “Are you giving?”
God uses dollars to test our faith and to strengthen our faith. I believe that giving is the number one way we demonstrate our faith in our Christian life. Sooner or later we’ve got to decide, “Can God be trusted with my finances? Can He be counted on to keep His promises?”
There are lots of promises in the Bible and there are more promises regarding giving than anything else in the Bible.
We often say, “God, you bless me and then I’ll give.” God says, “No, you first.” Why? Because that requires faith. Giving tests my faith and strengthens it.
The last day of school before the Christmas holidays, children were bringing gifts to their teacher. The florist’s son brought the teacher a bouquet. The candy store owner’s son brought the teacher a pretty box of candy. Then the liquor store owner’s son brought a big, heavy box. The teacher lifted it up and noticed that it was leaking a little bit. She touched a drop of the liquid with her finger and tasted it. “Is it wine?” She guessed. “No,” said the boy. She tasted another drop and asked, “Champagne?” She tasted another drop and asked, “sour mash whiskey? “No,” said the little boy. “It’s a stray puppy we don’t want!” Needless to say the teacher wasn’t very PLEASED!
What does it take to please God? Some people think that the way you please God is through ritual, that you chant certain prayers, you light some candles, go to church and go through the motions, just do some religious stuff to please God. That’s not what the Bible says pleases God.
He’s interested in a RELATIONSHIP with you. He wants you to learn to trust Him. The Bible says that it is impossible to please God unless you have one thing.
Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God
I believe that giving is the number one way we demonstrate our faith in our Christian life. For us as Americans it is a test of who is really God. Our God is materialism. The first of the Ten Commandments is “Have no other God before me” Giving is a faith test, God even says in Malachi 3:10, “test me in this”
An atheist can give what they think they can afford, you don’t have to believe in God for that. Many of us are practical atheists; we talk a good game, “I believe in God” but practically in what we do it shows our faith. We give only what we have left over. I won’t even call it a tip! A tip at a restaurant is 15% George Barna’s surveys reveal the average Christian gives only 2%! That’s not faith. And besides who wants to be average? I want to be generous!
Twenty years ago when Niki and I got married one of the first things we decided on as a couple was God was always going to be first in our finances. We said we’re going to practice tithing which is the Biblical concept of the first ten percent of everything we make we give back to God in gratitude for what He’s done in the past and as an example of faith saying, We know You’re going to provide for us in the future. We said no matter if nobody else gets paid, God gets paid first. The first check we write off our income is right back to God, ten percent back to Him. There have been times in our lives when it was that financially tight. But we’ve never missed a meal and God has provided for us all the time — many times in miraculous ways, unusual ways and God has seen us through. I don’t say to brag but as your leader to encourage you. We’ve seen so many blessings. Niki and I have learned, we can’t out give God. And every time we make that commitment to give even beyond our 10% and we follow through on it, God always blesses us in return. It’s exciting to see what He does. We have a long way to go, but we’ve experienced God’s faithfulness.
I hope and pray that you can be generous and grow like Christ.