Plant: Generosity

Plant: Generosity

Last week, we prepared to enter into the new year with a new message series about the Biblical life principle that we reap what we sow, we harvest what we plant, we are what we think.  We were challenged to plant the things of God into our lives and allow Him to develop good roots within us which produce good fruits.

Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived:

God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows.

Of course, we only want to be sowing the good stuff, the best stuff, the God stuff, the kingdom stuff.  First we plant it into our own lives, but we also want to be planting it out into the lives of all of those around us.  This morning, God is challenging us not on what type of soil we are, not on what we are planting, not on how well we’re cultivating it, but our attitude toward sowing.

Jesus came not just to give us life eternal someday in Heaven.  Jesus came to give us eternal life which begins here and now.  Jesus came to give us life abundant.  Jesus came to give us life to its full! 

This morning, we’re being challenged to have the same attitude toward planting that God has.  God is generous!

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Psalm 103:8-10

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

    slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse,

    nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve

    or repay us according to our iniquities.

God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve or we would all be burning in hell right now.  No, instead, God is a generous god who patiently waits for us to receive His salvation.  Even while He is awaiting a response to His open invitation to His salvation, He generously loves us and gives us all things. 

Approximately 500 years before Jesus wrapped Himself in flesh, David had this same revelation about this generous attitude of God.  He said:

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I remain confident of this:

    I will see the goodness of the Lord

    in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

    be strong and take heart

    and wait for the Lord.

Generosity has far more to do with the attitude with which we give and far less about the amount that we give.  We don’t give to get, we give because we have been given so much!  As Jesus said:

Matthew 10:8

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Making clear that generosity is an attitude, we recall this time in the earthly life of Jesus:

Mark 12:41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Generosity is less about how much we give and far more about our motive and attitude while giving!  To reinforce this, not only did Jesus praise the widow who gave so little, he rebuked the religious people who were faithfully tithing on everything just as they were supposed to!

Luke 11:39-42

39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Again, generosity is less about how much we give and far more about our motive and attitude while giving!

An attitude of generosity begins with this understanding; everything we have is God’s.  We are simply stewards entrusted with the riches of God’s kingdom.  This is true with our very lives, the lives of our children, our homes, our finances; everything that ever enters our hands is not ours, but God’s.

When God’s people came together and generously gave all that was required to build the first temple, David stood before everyone and proclaimed:

1 Chronicles 29:11-14

11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power

    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;

    you are exalted as head over all.

12 Wealth and honor come from you;

    you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

    to exalt and give strength to all.

13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,

    and praise your glorious name.

14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

Tithing, giving 10% of our gross income, and offerings above that are so easy to do when we understand this reality.  God is entrusting us with, and in return blessing, the remaining 90% of our income when we obediently give our first fruits.  Beyond our finances, we willingly give all that we are and all that we have back to God.

Generosity is mostly about our attitude toward our lives and what has been entrusted to us.  It is not about how much we give, but why we give.  Listen to the promises that God has made for those who plant generously!

Psalm 37:21

The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously;

Deuteronomy 15:10

Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Psalm 37:25-26

25 I was young and now I am old,

    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken

    or their children begging bread.

26 They are always generous and lend freely;

    their children will be a blessing.

Psalm 112:5

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Proverbs 11:25

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 22:9

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

Although generosity is more so about attitude, we also can’t neglect the obvious principle of reaping what we sow, harvesting what we plant.  We would not plant ten corn seeds and expect to harvest ten tons of corn.  We would not plant five watermelon seeds and expect to harvest five crates of watermelons.

2 Corinthians 9:6-11

6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
    their righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

What are you missing in your life?  In your home?  In your church?  In your relationships?  In your workplace?  In your school?

Maybe it’s time to start generously sowing out and planting those very things!

This year, as we intentionally plant the things of God into our lives and into the lives of those around us, let’s do so generously!  Everything we have and everything that we are is God’s.  We’ve freely received so much, so let’s freely give.  Not begrudgingly or out of obligation, but cheerfully with joy!