IMG_0955The world seems more chaotic.  The pace of life is busier.  More people live in fear about the future.  In a world filled with anxiety, what is the boldest and most radical action a believer in Christ could take?  How could we demonstrate to a cynical world that Easter is real and Jesus Lord?  A simple response is generosity.

Generosity is when we give away what God has first given.  Compared with fear and stinginess, generosity is vibrant way of life.  But are we living lives of generosity?  Consider these stats about stress and money from the September 2015 edition of Thrivent Magazine.

  • 72% of adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 U.S. Christians say they worry a lot about not having enough money.
  • 71% of adults say that having more money would make them happier.

In the month when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we focus on what it means to be generous as we consider our time, finances, energy, and things.  Our God is most generous.  Shouldn’t his people be the most generous people in society? 

 

 

In November, we’ll follow a three week mini-series on generosity.

Stagnation to Transformation (Nov. 8th)

John 12:1-12; I Cor. 8:8-9; Psalm 112

“Never wealthy, always rich.”   – Old farmer’s adage

 

Generosity is when we give away what God has first given.  Still, we get caught in cycles that are focused on self-preservation.  Such patterns of living are stagnant as we hold tightly to what we’ve been given.

The generosity of God has the power to transform us.  His gifts shape us into new people.  The stagnant nature of the old life is transformed by God into a life of generosity.  Only God can initiate this transformation.

 

Questions to think about:

What are two ways God has been extravagantly generous to you?  What impact have these gives had on your life?

Who is the most generous person you’ve ever known?  What impact has he or she had on your life?

Biblical generosity is holistic.  It compasses our money, abilities, and time.  Consider three ways you will be generous this week – with your money, ability, or time.

 

Selfishness to Sacrifice (Nov. 15th)

Matthew 20:20-28; I Tim. 6:17-19; Deut. 15:7-11

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who cannot repay you.”

“I will not give a sacrifice that will cost me nothing.” 

“Great giving is not determined by financial sums nearly as much as it is determined by personal sacrifices.  Once that standard is used, the playing field becomes level between the rich and the poor.  In other words, one does not have to be rich to be generous.”   – Gordon MacDonald

 

Generosity, by its very nature, is outward focused.  It looks to give away to others.  Yet we are tempted to revert to an inward focus.  We desire more for ourselves, our needs, our desires.  God’s generosity confronts our selfishness and shows us the way of sacrifice.  Here walk in the way of Jesus, who came “not to be served, but to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Questions to think about:

Who is the most sacrificial person you know?  What makes them sacrificial?

What are two major hurdles that make it challenging for you to sacrifice for others?

 

Scarcity to Surplus (Nov. 22nd)

Luke 6:27-38; II Cor. 9:6-15; Prov. 11:24-26

“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”  Randy Alcorn

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”   – Hudson Taylor

“Earthly gifts are given to be used, not collected.”  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Fear causes us to live with a mindset of scarcity.  “There’s not enough.”  When we’re afraid of not having enough, we are hardened by an attitude of stinginess.  We accumulate instead of distribute.   By contrast, God’s heart is generous without limit.  Even when we don’t see surplus, we trust God to provide enough and more.  Believing that God provides generous surplus leads us to live in confident joy, not fearful uncertainty.  In times of scarcity, God calls us to greater dependence on him to provide.

 

Questions to think about:

How does our culture encourage you to build bigger barns through wealth accumulation?  In light of Scripture, is it wise to do?  Why or why not?

Why do you think greed is such a powerful force?