Generous Not Selfish
Continue our 2019 Resolution. This month - "I resolve to be generous." Why should this matter to me? Why pay attention? Because...
#1 - The very heart of Christianity is ________ selfishness.
We are naturally selfish. It's just at the very core of what a human is. To be as interested in the needs of someone else as myself is the core of what being a Christian is. So if I want to be a Christ-follower, then...
"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4 ESV
It's not like this verse is a one-time thing. We see this advice against selfishness over and over again in God's Word. Here's just a few...
"If anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" 1 John 3:17 ESV
"Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor."
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
"Love is patient and kind; ... It does not insist upon its own way."
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2 ESV
So HOW do we become ANTI-selfish? How do we become different than what we are? This is the subject of Christian Disciplines (the topic of Brian's current study - highly recommended!)
Two things must happen to become different than we are.
1st - we must be born again (anew, from above, spiritual birth), what Jesus talked about to Nicodemus in John 3. With this new spiritual birth comes the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
2nd - we must practice Christian Disciplines. The Bible puts it this way: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness." (1Tim 4:7). When we think of God, we think of His attributes - what He is like. One of the greatest differences between God and mankind is that God is generous, while mankind is selfish. To become ANTI-selfish (more like God)...
#2 - I proactively replace my selfishness with _________________ .
By proactive, I mean "on purpose." "Practice." This is an entirely different motive for generosity than we usually think. We usually consider those who are in need and that if those with material abundance would be generous, then those who are in need could be helped. But for the Christian, we "PRACTICE" generosity because it helps us become godly.
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35 ESV
So you see both aspects in this verse. Yes, it helps the weak (needy). But notice Jesus' words, "It is more blessed." What does he mean? The greatest blessing is to the giver, not the receiver. Just the opposite of what we would expect. But consider that God is a giver. And God is the creator. So He created this universe around the principle of generosity. So we practice generosity. We can never just stop being selfish. But we can replace selfishness with generosity!
#3 - Generosity is never have-to. It's always __________ .
"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." Proverbs 11:24 ESV
Because God created the world with generosity in mind, we should have the attitude of GET-TO not GOT-TO. When I am generous, I GET-TO be like God. It's a privilege. It helps me rise about my natural selfish self.
I gave generously because I wanted to do so. Not because I had to. That's why any giving campaign based upon the baser human instincts is always so difficult. Giving as a competition. Giving as a means of showing off. Giving so that I might win a large sum. Giving out of guilt. All based on human core values, not Godly core values.
I GET TO give. This Proverb goes on to show us that no one outGIVES God. Those who choose to give freely out of a heart of worship are always rewarded! There's our 3 remaining "how-to's" - heart, head, and blessing.
#4 - Generosity is never about the amount. It's always about the _______ .
"Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, 'Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them.'" Luke 21:1-3 ESV
Jesus always cares about the heart of WHY you give when you give. Do you give because you want to practice not being selfish? Do you give because you want to be more godly? Do you give because you have generous compassion for others? Then all is well, regardless of whether you can give a lot or a little.
If you give because you have to give, if you give because you are expected to give, if you give because others will think more highly of you because you give, then it doesn't really matter how much you give, it's not enough. Jesus wants your heart, not just your money!
#5 - While generosity is about the heart, it doesn't ignore the ______ .
Our generosity should never be just about the heart. It should also be about the head. There should be rational thinking involved. It shouldn't be all emotion. Some causes tug at your heart-strings. And you want to give (and you should give something - never ignore those emotions!) But God also gave you a mind, a rational process to think things through.
"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
You have an obligation to take care of your family too. God is generous with an unlimited ability to give! You need to be generous, but with a limited capacity to give. We have economy. We have limited resources. We balance this with faith - counting upon God to provide, assuming He is asking us to give. We take the time to pray about it, to think about it, to decide about it. So we can give with great cheerfulness! Not reluctance.
#6 - God's Generosity Principle: The more I give, the greater my _________ .
We give with our heart. We give with our head. But we DO give. And we always strive to increase our generosity. We are always striving to be more like God. And when we do this, we discover that our our blessing increases proportionately.
"Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 ESV
You give with a teaspoon, you receive with a teaspoon. You give with a cup, you receive with a cup. You give with a pick-up truck, you receive with a pick-up truck. "With the measure you use...!"
This is not just a Christian principle, though we understand it through our knowledge of Who God is. He is Generous. He is Creator. He created the universe to reward generosity. So it is known by many names: Karma. Kismet. Serendipity. Fate. Blessing.
But here is the bottom line: You will never out-give God! You can never be more generous than God is generous. But here's the catch. You can never take advantage of this blessing principle in order to profit. God knows your heart and will see your selfishness (the opposite of generosity).
Heart. Head. Blessing. Becoming more like God, less like yourself. All wrapped up in GIVE!