gen· er· os· i· ty / ˌjenəˈräsədē/ noun 1The quality of being kind and generous. "Don’t we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us?” Acts 15:10b MSG 2The quality or fact of being plentiful or large “A generosity that goes on, and on, and on. An honored life!” Psalm 112:1
At Immanuel we are focused on Developing Today’s Disciples. One of the core characteristics a disciple of Jesus needs to develop is generosity. The Bible uses a form of the verb “to give” more than 2,100 times. You might expect “love” to be used more often; however “love” only appears about 700 times. The reason for this is that giving is love in action. God’s love is demonstrated throughout the Scriptures by His generosity toward us.
Out of His generous heart our amazing God gave His only Son to die in our place so we can have His blessing now, and later spend eternity with Him. He sets the standard for “Generosity: Love in Action.” As the children of God, we are to bear His image in the world. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live generous lives so that the world can know that we have a generous God and we can show Him our gratitude.
Generosity is love in action. When we act generously toward others, including God, we are making love tangible. We know what love is because we have a generous God. He has consistently put love into action for us. He provides for our daily needs. He guards and protects us. Most importantly, when we were lost in sin and death God sent His only Son to show us what love is. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In the most generous act in history, the Son of God gave up His life for you. As His disciples we are called to imitate our generous God. God’s generosity toward us is the foundation for the generous lives He calls us to live.
Throughout the gospels Jesus informs us that our motivation for the things we do is actually more important to God than the things that we do. God is ultimately concerned with our hearts, for He knows that if our hearts have the right motivation our hands will honor Him. In Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler He encounters someone who exemplifies this truth. The rich young ruler is doing the right things for the wrong reasons and it will ultimately cause his downfall. Zacchaeus, on the other hand, finds his motivation in his encounter with Jesus. What is your motivation for being generous? Are you more like the rich young ruler or Zacchaeus?
Coming out of the series on Spiritual Gifts there was a great deal of excitement over the resources that were provided and the opportunity to discover our spiritual gifts. However, we received back only 2 of the discovery responses to help people get involved according to their giftedness. Today we reexamine the call to be generous with our gifts and talents and provide an opportunity to get plugged into areas of your giftedness.
God has commanded us to be generous as He is generous with us, but is that the only reason we should cultivate generosity in our lives? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” While we should be obedient to God in every area of our lives, God calls us to be generous because of the many benefits of living a generous lifestyle. Today we will explore the benefits a generous life brings.
For many Christians in our culture the call to be generous with our resources is the most difficult. As evidence of this, more than 50% of church going Christians give no monetary gifts to the church over the course of a year. Today we will explore what God’s call on our lives actually is with regard to our resources and be encouraged to consider how to become or move forward with the generosity of our resources.
While each of us have the same 86,400 seconds to spend every day, time seems to be the resource in shortest supply in our lives. The days fly by and, for all of our good intentions, we never get all the things on our lists done. How does God view our time? What is His call for the use of our time? Today we explore these questions and provide a resource to help each of us be more intentional with the time we are given.
Today is a day of celebration! We respond to all of the things we have been considering together and individually about God’s call for generosity to be a prominent mark of our discipleship. We consider the impact that our intentional generosity can have on our community and the world. Finally, we bring forth our personal commitments to God with regard to our resources, gifts, and time and lay them before the Lord as a pledge and pray that God will work in each of us to accomplish the plans He has laid on our hearts.