How would you define Generosity?

 define GenerosityOne gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:24-25

We are to make every effort to represent Christ and make the most of what we are given for His glory. We are stewards of all that we have, whether small or great. The better we use our gifts, the more generous He is with us with more gifts, abilities, monies and opportunities. We are called not to waste our opportunities; rather, be diligent and faithful to our call, abilities, and prayer with love and hospitality.

Do what God has called you to do and do it with passion, truth, and in love!

We are called to be charitable and generous to others with what Christ has given you, and to serve Him without being held back by fear, time, or lack of talent. And when we can’t do it ourselves, we can supply others with resources to make it so. As Christians, we are to typify faith and reason together so we can exhibit the maturity needed to make wise decisions and have a purpose in life.

People in the world may be more concerned for their own needs and agendas than they are for God’s clear purpose, but as Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2). Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:4-21; 16:1; 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!

So, are you generous? To see what that means look to these passages:

Positive examples of being generous from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

Negative examples of being stingy from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)  

God is generous with His grace, so we should be generous toward each other and be thankful. 

For us to be good stewards, as we are called to live, serve, and do all that we do in life for the honor and glory of our Lord and Savior. How do we do this? Realize how generous and gracious our Lord is. We need to trust Him and accept His provisions, even when we do not see them. And finally to refuse to see His goodness and turn from sin, is the ultimate contempt to our loving Lord! (Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 1:26-31; Jude 24-25)!

  1. What are the things that cause you to be stingy with what God gives you?
  2. How does greed counteract Generosity?
  3. What happens to our relationship with God, and with others, when we refuse to see all that we have is His?
  4. When have you been filled with Generosity?
  5. In what situation did you fail to be Generous when you should have been?
  6. What issue is in your life now, which would improve with being more generous?
  7. Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you?

Stewardship is Proportionate

stewardship life

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.” Matthew 25:14-30

We are to love Jesus, even though we cannot see Him or touch Him. This may go against common sense, but the reality of His grace and impact can sometimes be hidden by our desires, circumstances, and feelings. The same as it is with faith and finances, each one should influence the other as a mark of true Christianity. This is the test of faith and trust, if we see no hope, we then must look to our Lord; then the hope is given and can be seen. The reward of our faith far outweighs any endurance or struggle we face. The joy we have is real and significant (John 20:29).

Read Matt. 25:14-30: What is the meaning of unfaithfulness? How does that relate to stewardship?

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless nor hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; James 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are having?

  • Stewardship recognizes that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

A prime suggestion to better enable our financial giving

tithe budget

What are some of the things you can do to make sure that your heart is not set upon possessions; more exactly, how can you trust in our God as Provider?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

All this is a result of His sacrifice of Christ’s redemption, His permanence, and His love for us. He lived, died, and rose again for you and me! All we are to do is trust and obey Him, and as we continue in this endeavor, He gives us even more empowerment for enduring life and performing ministry along with His special favor and peace! Even if we do not see Jesus, He sees us, loves us, and helps us persevere. This may seem unattainable or even unfathomable when we are under stress or the hostile occupation of life. However, we can do this because we have access to His empowerment; we are literally kept by God through faith. As we grow in our faith, we become even more precious to God and He will preserve us through trials and life.

From this passage we can see what we gain by our Lord’s grace, so how will that affect our budget and giving?

What we can do is view your promise to give to God that which is referred to as your tithe, like an income tax. Although it is not mandatory, it is a reflection of your character and response to His grace.

As the government so nicely swipes away your hardearned money from the top of your paycheck, consider joyfully setting also the top 10% of your net, or better yet, the gross income, for the Lord’s service– before the bills, expenses, and entertainment.

Do not include the tithe in your budget. Make your budget on the net assets you have after the tithe and taxes. Then, you will have a more realistic budget and keep yourself from getting into debt.

That way, it is done and out of the way. Then, carefully decide to whom it should go. The primary responsibility is first to your local church, and second to ministries that are doing the Lord’s work.  Remember, the people who set aside the first fruits of their resources to God are dedicating themselves to God, and not themselves to themselves.

This will also allow you to give more easily and continuously. Our real and true treasures are imperishable (1 Pet. 1:3-5)!

To help you do this, make a list of them, and put them in a place that you can see daily to encourage yourself. Keep in mind that true treasures are not material in nature, so look to relationships and character.

Do you realize that the prophets of old desperately desired and sought what we have—that which is free, and that we take for granted? Never take your faith or what Christ has done for you for granted. If you do, your spiritual journey will derail, your faith will stagnate, and the hopeless gloom of the world will be your only “vesper” (a bell that summons monks to pray). You will be seeking what is feeble and worthless and disavow what is real and jubilant. We are to declare our faith internally, see its veracity and application, and then declare it publicly.

In God’s Economy Generosity is Encouraged!

GenerosityRemember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Is Generosity working in you?

Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7; Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15

What is Generosity? It is a fruit of our impacting relationship with Christ.  Which allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is the wise use of stewardship and the attitude that all possessions belong to God. We are merely the caretakers for His purpose. It will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires.

What happens when we are not generous? We will be taken in by Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and being Miserly, the opposites of God’s call. These rotten fruits are rotten because we hoard things and money and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and ‘living water’ from flowing in us and then to others around us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us.

How do I know if I am not a person who is generous? Do you see what you have as yours or you as a steward of what God owns? Do pride and arrogance have you? If so, this will be your driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

One of the things I both love and hate to do is go out to lunch with a bunch of Christians. I love the fellowship, but when it comes to tip time, I, as the pastor usually ends up paying the tip and sometimes a lion share of the bill too. Then I hear complaints from waitresses about how stingy the various church groups are! This should not happen. When will we learn, as a Church, that our actions enable us to point others to the way to the Lord, and give us the ability to repel others from Him.

Generosity is the realization we have His living water (John 4; 7:38) flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too!

The Dead Sea in Israel is dead. Why? There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous. As ‘living’ water, it must be moving to be alive.

Generosity is an example of our trust and reliance on God.

Because He has given so much to us, way beyond what we can comprehend, we can therefore be charitable to others. This is an act of worship–to model Christ, and see the big picture that goods and material things are not important, but relationships are. This goes to giving back to God, providing to those who have less, and making sure your church is modeling this character.

Keep in mind that a selfish church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Let yourself be a rich and growing reservoir, overflowing like a fountain of living water that refreshes and encourages all those around you (Eph. 5:18). This will be your sweetness and virtue to others, which will point them to God and be a welcome mat to the Christian life.

We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. Character will be the fruit of that endeavor!

Good verses Bad Debt

Good-Bad-Debt1

Good debt is what is helping you build your future to take from today and build a better tomorrow. 

Such as a home mortgage that builds equity and is a place for you and your family to live and thrive.

It can also be a business loan, which allows you to build a way to provide you and your family’s future when providing jobs and a beneficial service to your community.

Student loans can be good too, but be very cautious, they can’t be forgiven or used in bankruptcy and may take 30 years to pay off. They will stifle you from owning a home or building a future. Only use them if you have too when all scholarship and other means is exhausted. Pay them off as soon as you can. If you will not have the income to pay them off early, do not get them and just prolong your education. Take online and community college courses to augment your college and grad school, then graduate when you can be debt free.

Bad debt is taking money away from your future that you need to live and build upon and stealing it away for pleasure or a perceived need today.

Such as credit cards and a store credit shopping spree that you will be paying on for years when those goods are useless and long gone proving no useful means for you.

Car loans, best not to get, only use cash and not have a loan. If you must and if you can afford it, get a reliable car that is three or four years old, after ½ the value is deprecated. Then you will save tens of thousands of dollars. Do not get a brand new car, it is bad stewardship, unless you need it for work and will have it for more than ten years. It is way better to buy a good used car (like a Honda, Toyota, Subaru or Ford, not a Chrysler or Fiat because of bad reliability or European, too much in maintenance), than new. Never lease unless your company gets a tax credit and pays for it. The math on a lease is never better than purchase. Can’t afford a three year old car? Any 4 cl Honda or Toyota that is well maintained, 94-07 is a best bet.

Big Tip Credit cards. Do not get them! 

Second Big tip on how to pay off credit cards by making the minimum on the larger balances and pay more to the smaller balances. Then you will pay off the smallest balance first and then take those funds to pay off the next lowest balance and so forth until you are all done. The math expiates the payoff in that way faster than just a little more on each one.

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 – A Template on How to Give

2 Corinthians 8 1-15How to Give

  • …Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy…
  • …and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…
  • …even beyond their ability…
  • …Entirely on their own…
  • …privilege of sharing in this service to the saints…
  • …they gave themselves first to the Lord…
  • …keeping with God’s Will…
  • …in faith …excel in this grace of giving…
  • …I am not commanding you…
  • …you through his poverty might become rich…
  • …you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so…
  • …the gift is acceptable according to what one has…
  • …not according to what he does not have…
  • …eager willingness …the willingness is there…
  • …your plenty will supply what they need…

2 Corinthians 8:1-15 NIV

What does it Mean to be Rich? PIII

rich dRead James 5: 1-6

James is not saying wealth is wrong; rather, he denounces wealth when it gets in the way of our relationships and call from God and when we use it to bring harm to others. This comes down to our attitude concerning security, and priorities about money over spiritual and relational matters!

Our focus needs to be to God and our trust in Him, not money, things, or power! It is not your bank account; it is your soul account!

Our true riches are in Christ alone! Wealth is not sinful, or even harmful, as long as it is seen as a tool. It does become a problem and a distraction when it becomes our focus and God is pushed out of the picture. We are also called to use and be responsible and accountable stewards with wealth; so, use it wisely, with honesty, and do not horde it, misuse it, exploit it, steal it, or waste it. Give it away with generosity for the godly influence to further His Kingdom (Prov. 11:24-25; 15:27; 16:8; 17:23; 20:17; 21:14; 22:2; 23:1-3; 30:7-9; Eccl. 5:10-20; Matt. 6:19-21; 25: 14-30; Luke 12:13-21; Acts 4:36-37; Eph. 5:10; 1 Tim. 6:10).

Condemned… murdered, in this context, it is not actual murder, but the setting up of events that lead to it.

The abuse of power will cause the loss of life. The rich in James’ day were taking food away from the people, not providing wages so they starved while they worked, and taking their coats away in extortion so they would freeze to death, too! The image is the oppression of the poor, as the wicked were scheming against the righteous. In this context, James warns them to repent.

This condemnation of judgment does not pertain to a Christian because we are saved by grace. It is condemnation to a non-Christian; a real Christian would never do this. The audience for this passage is also the aristocratic Jews and pretenders who say they are Christians, but their lack of fruit clearly shows otherwise (Isa. 13-23; Jer. 46-51; Ezek. 25-32; Amos 1:3-2:16; Zeph. 2:4-15).

The question is, do we “listen up” to what God is saying to us? Do we ask ourselves (and, of course, God Himself), what does God want from me?

Because if we do not, our focus in life becomes skewed! To focus upon what the world defines as success is to miss out on things that are much greater, both for the here-and-now and for eternity to come. For the person whose pursuit is in wealth, it becomes a weed that chokes off the soul from God and from others. One of the hardest things to do is be a Christian with worldly wealth because it most always leads to worldly interests that lead to worldly activities.

Wealth can be done and be done for greatness, but most, if not all of the time, it only brings darkness to light and blurs the Christian soul in the desires of the world. This leaves the person empty from lost opportunities, destitute of important relationships, and from Christ as Lord. If all we do is live for this world, then there may be nothing left for the next!

Do you worry?

Consider that we have a God who loves and provides. He fulfills us with Himself beyond our expectations. He will meet our deepest needs. We can trust in Him! If you are a worrier, the call is to worship in place of that worry (Matt. 6:19-34)!