This morning our church had a leadership breakfast and our foundation brought in a guy named Dan from an organization called Generous Giving to speak to us about generosity. I was looking forward to the free breakfast and a time to talk to some friends, but boy did I get so much more.
I have always thought of myself as a giver. I always score high on the giving section of the spiritual gifts test, I have always tithed, I give my time at church, we consistently give to the building fund at church, etc. I know I have selfish tendencies, as do most of us, but I almost took pride in the fact that I love to give. This meeting challenged everything I had thought about myself in regards to giving and being generous.
First off, one of the things I heard was you can be a giver without being generous. How many times have we given someone a dollar, not because they need it, but because of how it makes us feel and look to other people? How many times have I volunteered for something at church so people will say nice things about me?Being generous is more than the action of giving. It goes much deeper than that. It's a heart issue and a true desire to meet a need without looking for anything in return.
The last few verses of Acts 20 is Paul's closing statement to the church of Ephesus and the main things he wants to get across are to 1.) Believe the Gospel and 2.) Live radically generous lives. On one of the videos, Tim Keller, links those two and says the are inseparable. If you believe the Gospel, you will give. Giving is at the heart of the Gospel. "For God so loved the world that He GAVE..."
The thing that impacted me the most was when Tim was talking about treasures and how we make them idols in our lives. We will do anything to obtain or hold on to those things we treasure. The end up enslaving us. He said, "Every other treasure will enslave you, but Jesus. Jesus did everything to purchase you yet every other treasure expects you to lay down your life for it" We are more valuable to Jesus than His glory because He gave it up for us when He came to earth. We are more valuable to Him than His life, His comfort, His power, etc because He gave it ALL up for us on the cross. He even gave up the relationship with God the Father. I had NEVER thought like this before. When I put something in front of my love for Christ, I am slapping Him in the face. What a thought! Then I think of all Christ gave up for me and then I thinkabout what I'm unwilling to give up for Him.
While watching that certain video of Tim Keller sharing all this, God spoke right to my heart in such a clear way. He told me you take pride in not needing "stuff" but you are holding so tight to you comfort that there is no way you can be holding onto Me too. WHAT?! Comfort as my treasure, my idol? The thought had never crossed my mind before but as I've thought about it today...a lot...it is so true! What keeps me from sharing my faith and living out the Gospel to those around me? Stepping out of that comfort zone of friends and church is scary! What keeps me from being generous with my time? It might inconvenience me or make me miss something I really enjoying doing. What keep me from being generous with my money? Fear that a comfort item or items will be taken away. Fear that I may have to give up something for someone else. It is like God has hit me with a Mac truck!
Now, I don't know what all this will look like in my life, but it's a starting point for me. I know I have never regretted giving money or time to the church or friends or family, but I want to be one who is GENEROUS with my life. I don't want to hold so tight to my comforts that I miss out on being an instrument of blessing from God to someone else! Dan made a statement that stuck with me and it's, "God gives seed to the sower." God is looking for those who are already busy working. I want to be that person God blesses so I can turn bless someone else. Pray with me as I seek what this looks like in my life and the life of my family! I pray you all will be a generous people as well.