Monday, February 23, 2015

Leaving a Legacy of Generosity

When God wanted the Israelites to build the tabernacle, a visible place for Him to dwell in the middle of their community, He instructed Moses to receive an offering to pay for it. This was an offering of gold, silver, bronze, fabric, ect. The instruction for the offering is found in Exodus 25:1,2 and Exodus 35: 4,5. The interesting thing about this offering is that it had to come from people with “willing hearts.” One translation says, “generous hearts”. This was not a tithe, or tax or an offering that was cohered. No, this offering came from willing and generous people – people who believed in the project. In fact they were so excited to give that at one point Moses had to ask them to stop giving.

Generosity takes giving to a whole new level. It comes from a place of joy.

I love hanging out with generous people. They are contagious and they have a positive disposition.

This is what I know about generous people:
  1. They have open eyes. They see the world from a different perspective. Their vision is higher than their circumstances and looks beyond the present.
  2. They have open hearts. They not only a need, they are moved to respond.
  3. They have open lives. There is room for one more in their relationship circle and are invested in what they give to.
  4. They have open hands. They are simply conduits of God’s blessings. I heard someone say once, “Some people won’t let go of what is in their hand because they are afraid that God won’t let go of what is in His.” Think about this, in light of God’s hand, how small is your hand compared to His? The problem with a clinched fist is that nothing can get in either.
  5. They have open ears. They have a global positioning unit hardwired into their ears and the voice that is giving them directions is God. Several years ago, Esther felt impressed to give a struggling couple the next check that came in our mail. Little did we know that the next check would be the check from her parents to help us pay our mortgage that month while we were in grad school. Convinced it was the Lord’s voice, we gave it anyway, and guess what, we still made our mortgage payment. The Lord not only used us to provide for someone else, but he provided for us. We have so many of these stories just like all generous people have.
There are two types of generosity. First there is the planned generosity. It is reflected in people’s giving above their regular giving. So many in our congregation not only give to the church, but they also give to missionaries and special projects on a regular basis. It is built into their budget every month. This kind of generosity speaks to the person’s passion. It tells us what we really love.

Secondly, there is spontaneous generosity. This reflects a person’s compassion. Sometimes it is an emotional response, but it’s usually much deeper. When a person is listening to God, He shows us places to give with sometimes little notice, but God wants to use us to respond to different needs and critical situations.

The reality of generosity is that sometimes we miss the mark and feel like someone is taking advantage of us. This will happen at some point and we have to be ok with understanding that we were obedient to God’s voice and we are giving to Him.

Generous people have a trust in God. Recently I received a phone call from a investment broker. He was convincing enough and he talked me into the next part of the conversation. He asked me if I wanted to see my kids go to college and have money when I retire and have money to travel. If course I wanted all of those things until it dawned on me that I had no idea of who I was talking to. I stopped him and said, “Wait, I have no idea who you are. If I am going to invest, I want to at least know the person I am investing with.” I hung up before his next sentence.

Generous people understand the “Big Shovel Principle.” We have a giving shovel in our hand. When we use it to bless others, God also begins to shovel. And guess what, God’s shovel is a whole lot bigger than yours. He is waiting to bless people who generously bless others. I can tell you without a doubt that every time we have been asked to give financially, God has moved in a miraculous way.

Proverbs 11:24-28, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell. He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it. Whoever trust in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”


Lorie Foster said...

Thanks Pastor...this is such an awesome message! I really enjoyed and shared it.


Dr. Keith G Edwards said...

Thanks Lorie. We missed you.