A Place to Call Home – Practicing Generosity
Pastor Mike Hayes
Sunday March 26, 2017
Theme – The people of Covenant Church practice generosity. Part of human nature is the tendency to gather and keep things for ourselves. God’s desire is to give each of us what is sufficient for happiness, and that He then can bless others - through us - with what we have in excess to what is necessary.
Practicing generosity – a Covenant Church value
- Covenant Church’s core values declaration includes the statement, “As God has richly blessed us, we actively look for opportunities to bless others.”
- Generosity is a learned behavior. Our natural tendency is to gather to ourselves.
- The proliferation of storage warehouses – with rented space full of excess material property – is evidence many of us are hording things that could be better used by others.
- Americans know well the statistics about world-wide poverty that contrasts with our excess of possessions. This is not how it should be.
Seven Biblical principles that describe how we should understand wealth and giving
- Everything we own belongs to God.
- Wealth and possessions should be used for God’s purposes.
- Wealth is like dynamite; with great potential for good or harm.
- Worldly wealth is short term; heavenly wealth is eternal.
- Giving generously to the poor is a moral duty in a fallen world.
- Giving should be voluntary, generous, cheerful, and needs-based.
- Giving generously breaks the power of money over us.
Everything we own belongs to God
- Colossians 1: 16-17 “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
- 1 Chronicles 29: 11 “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.”
- These verses clearly show us that “everything” means everything. We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking we are the true owners of our material possessions.
- Human tendency is to give ourselves credit for our successes and blame others for our failures.
- Rather, our appropriate response to our material blessings should be:
1. Overwhelming gratitude to God
2. To recognize we are only stewards of all that is His.
Wealth and possessions should be used for God’s purposes
- Luke 12: 42-43 “And the Lord said, ‘Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.’”
- 1 Timothy 6: 17 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.”
- Stewardship is the active and responsible management of God’s creation for God’s purposes.
Wealth is like dynamite; with great potential for good or harm
- Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote: “Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches – feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30: 8-9)
- Covenant Church teaches a “sufficiency gospel” where we neither take a vow of poverty nor seek to accumulate an excess of material goods.
- We should not seek riches, because that search will lead us away from God.
- Likewise, we should not embrace poverty because poverty leads to other sinful temptations that reflect badly on God’s name.
Worldly wealth is short term; heavenly wealth is eternal
- We all know our material possessions decay and go to other people when we die.
- It makes little sense to focus our attention on such things.
- Rather, we should spend our money on things that carry value into eternity.
Giving generously to the poor is a moral duty in a fallen world
- Isaiah 58:10 “If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.”
- “Extending your soul” means to deeply care about people as individuals.
- We cannot place blame on people who are poor. It is not our place to judge the motives of others. Poverty exists for many reasons. We simply are told to be generous “to the least of these” (Matthew 25:40)
Giving should be voluntary, generous, cheerful, and needs-based.
- 1 Chronicles 29: 9-14 tells of the joy the Israelites’ experienced from their willing offerings, and how this experience gave them a perspective of God’s ownership of everything on the planet.
- Verse 9 reads, “Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the Lord; and King David also rejoiced greatly.”
Giving generously breaks the power of money over us.
- 1 Timothy 6:9 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
- If we focus on obtaining possessions, “enough” will never be enough.
- In Luke 12: 13-21 Jesus told the story of a man who focused on establishing personal security through the accumulation of possessions. Jesus said the man was a fool.
- Generosity also includes things other than material goods. Generosity also involves the giving of things such as our time, or kind words spoken.
Reflective Questions for A Place to Call Home: Practicing Generosity
- Have you ever tried to “downsize” or to divest yourself of some of your possessions? If so, what was that experience like? What were some of the things that happened when you did that?
- In your own words explain Pastor Mike’s teaching about a “sufficiency gospel” which is informed by Proverbs 30: 8-9. Is there anything from your own experiences that is an example of the wisdom of those verses?
- Why is generosity something that has to be practiced?
- Think of a simple challenge you could give yourself that would test the principle of “giving generously breaks the power of money over us.” How would you recognize and evaluate the outcome of that challenge?