Defined by generosity
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Defined by generosity

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This is the last part of a study that looks at what it means to live a life that is "enough" This part looks at what it means to be defined by generosity, and how being generous is a way of life, and ...

This is the last part of a study that looks at what it means to live a life that is "enough" This part looks at what it means to be defined by generosity, and how being generous is a way of life, and not just actions that we take.

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  • This is the second of the major points that we’ve been building to. Who we are as generous people goes hand in hand with being content. Living a simple life, one that is “enough” is a life that is content, and one that is generous.Being generous is described by some as giving up the things that you want, and consequently living with a lower quality of life all so that you can give something to other people. If we describe being generous on those terms, then we’ve already lost. Living a live that is generous says that I’m not going to be described by the stuff that I have. If we give up that definition, then that criticism falls by the wayside. When we are generous, then we are being defined by who we are and what we’re doing, not by the stuff that we have.
  • There is a difference between being simple and being simplistic. Being simplistic rejects God’s creation and leads us into under-reaching. Being simple helps us to live in the world that God has created, to live into the fullness of his purpose for us, and to live a full and rich life. This is a life that is moving towards contentment, which is what we’ll be exploring.God has created each of us to live as a part of this world that he has made. To life to our fullest is to live to the fullest of that creation. This also describes living a content life.All of us have places in our live where we are like the prodigal (wasteful) son. Our goal is to find those places and move to being like the younger son when he returned to his Father.One of the things that we have to do is ask different questions. Often times when our prodigalness (yes I just made that word up) catches up to us, all of our old questions no longer have good answers, or answers we can understand. This means that we have to start asking new questions.The times that we get into trouble is when we are trying to be something other than content. When we are content, then we can be happy or sad, we can struggle or celebrate, but all of it is done in the abundance that God has provided rather than in the abundance that we are trying to find for ourselves.
  • The question to ask ourselves is how will other people remember us? Will they remember us because we spent a lot of money on ourselves and had lots of neat toys? Or will they remember us because of what we did?Look back on some of the most influential and most remembered people in history. Why do we remember them? Do we remember them because of all the great stuff that they had? Nope, we remember them because of what they did, because of the sacrifices that they made, because they gave of themselves rather than expecting others to give something to them.That’s not to say that we don’t remember people who got lots of stuff for themselves. But when we do, how do we think of them? Don’t we consider them to be arrogant, prideful, or full of themselves? Don’t we look at them and say that they could have done so much more, but that was how they chose to live? Don’t we look at them with more than a little bit of disdain because of what they did/have?Being generous has more of an impact that holding on to things ever did.
  • Prayer:Dear God, you designed us to be generous. You actually gave us the need to be generous, which is why we experience such joy when we give selflessly and sacrificially to you and to others. Forgive us for listening to the voices of the world that tell us we need to focus on ourselves rather than on others. Forgive us for choosing to hoard rather than to give. Forgive us for giving in to self-gratification rather than practicing delayed gratification. Teach us, Lord, to give generously of all you have so graciously given to us, so that we may bless both you and others and experience the abundant blessings that come from living for you.In Jesus name we pray. Amen
  • These are great summary statements of Jesus ministry. They are also some of the hardest to understand. This has a tendency to confuse a lot of people because they ask why this is the case?This is something that is hard to explain in words to other people. Rather this is one of those statements that has to be lived. It has to be practiced. It’s life changing qualities have to be known to the person who needs to be changed, and that is hard to convey to someone through words.But this is precisely why this is a life changing thing. This is why Jesus is life changing in his teachings, death, and resurrection. It is the experience that changes our life. No amount of talking, explaining, and teaching can do anything if we don’t have the experience to back it up.
  • Why do we say that God created us to be generous? I say this is the case because he created us to live in communities, he created us to live with other people.If this weren’t the case, then God would have created us to live by ourselves with minimal to no interaction with anyone else. We are created to live in community with other people. A part of that community means that we have to look out for one another and help each other out for the success of the community, because otherwise the community will fail.Our current economic crisis could be described as being the result of us trying not to live in community, and that the more we try to live outside that community, then the more likely we are to fall apart.As we realize that our lives are not our own, we are willing to give more generously and make sacrifices because we know our security is in God. As this change takes place within us, we discover real joy.This is a key point that I think Adam Hamilton is making. We first remember that we do not belong exclusively to ourselves. We are dependent on other people, and other people are dependent on us. Likewise we can be affected by the actions of other people, and other people can be affected by our actions.With this being the case, then we are in need of something/someone to provide security for us so that we can manage through the changes that all of us face throughout our lives. God provides that security. God doesn’t promise us that we will never find trouble, but what he does promise is that we can make it through, and that if we follow, then he will show us the way better than anythign else that we can come across.
  • From the earliest biblical times, the primary way people worshipped god was building an altar and offering the fruit of their labors upon it to God. In Old Testament times, a gift offered to God was called the first fruits or the tithe, and it equaled one-tenth of one’s flocks or crops or income.This isn’t something that is easy to do, but it is a good way of framing the discussion.We who are blessed with more than enough to meet our needs should consider giving beyond the tithe.There is a corollary that goes along with this, which is that those who are not blessed with much with which to meet their needs, then they should consider giving below the tithe.Both of these should be done through careful consideration and prayer. It shouldn’t be used as a way of cultivating more power because you give so much, nor should it be used as an excuse not to give at all. What God is calling for in this is that we consider our lives, who we are, and what we can really do once we get through all of the detritus that mucks up our lives.
  • Our generosity to God and others not only blessed God and other people; it also changes us, filling our lives with joy.The question I ask when looking at statements like this is why does God need our blessing? That seems strange to me given my understanding of God. Its not so much that God needs the stuff that we are giving, rather its because it’s a way of showing our love and our faith because we are aligning ourselves with God and with his creation of us, and we are doing so out of our own free will. That is what is pleasing to God.We do not give to God so that we can get something in return. Yet when we give to God and to others, the blessings just seem to come back to us.I never understood what it was supposed to mean that we expect to get something back when we give something to someone else. That isn’t giving, that isn’t being generous. That’s an exchange. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an exchange, but we shouldn’t confuse and exchange with a gift.A true gift doesn’t expect anything in return. Rather it is given in the hopes of doing something for the recipient. Doing something for these reasons is contagious. When you do it for one person, others see it and do for others, and that gets returned to you sometime down the road because someone has made the decision to give, not because they are obligated. Doing something because you are obligated is fine, but its so much better to do so without being forced.
  • This is a great prayer that can set the tone and meaning for a group, or even for us as individuals.What does it say to you?
  • Look back at my comments from earlier to see how I would answer this, but how would you?I know that I am more at peace with my life because of this. This doesn’t mean that there still aren’t times when I stop realizing this. Typically when that happens I become restless, pensive, and uptight. I much prefer the other.
  • Prayer: O God, we thank you that you have given us life, that you sustain us by the power of your Holy Spirit , and that you gave Jesus Christ as an offering for us and for our sins. We thank you for the abundance that we have in our lives. Help us, O Lord, to honor you with our tithes and care for the poor and those whoa re in need. Help us to recognize that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We offer ourselves to you.In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Defined by generosity Defined by generosity Presentation Transcript

  • Defined by Generosity
  • Being simple and not simplistic
    Living as who God made us to be
    Moving from the Prodigal to the Returned
    Ask different questions
    Our goal is to be content with who we are.
  • Main Idea
    We experience true joy when our
    lives are defined by generosity
    View slide
  • Prayer
    View slide
  • Biblical Foundation
    As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Biblical Foundation
    They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of life that really is life. 1 Timothy 6:18-19
  • Biblical Foundation
    Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.
    A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water
    Proverbs 11:24-25
  • As the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives, we begin to think less about ourselves and more about others. We begin to see the needs of others and wonder, If I don’t do something, who will? As this change takes place within us, we experience real joy. We discover that we find more joy in doing things for other people and for God than we ever did in doing things for ourselves.
  • This is what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)
    “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25)
    How do we “gain” more than we “lose” when we give generously to others?
  • Video
  • Key Insights
    God designed us to be generous
    There are two “voices” that war against our God-given impulse toward generosity: fear and self-gratification. As we put our faith in Jesus Christ and grow spiritually, we silence these voices and become more and more generous.
  • Key Insights
    A central theological foundation for generosity is this: Life is a gift, and everything belongs to God.
    Most Christians agree that the tithe is still a good guideline for our lives today, and one that is pleasing to God.
  • Key Insights
    The Lord is pleased when we give freely with grateful hearts. When offered in pure, selfless love, our offerings bless the Lord.
  • Wesley Covenant Prayer
    I am no longer my own, but thine
    Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom though wilt.
    Put me to doing, put me to suffering
    Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee.
    Exalted for thee or brought low for thee
  • Wesley Covenant Prayer
    Let me be full, let me be empty.
    Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
    I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal
    Amen
  • Questions
    If you were participating in a debate, how would you defend: When God created humankind, God designed us to be generous.
    What happens when we realize that our lives are not our own? What’s helped you realize this?
  • Questions
    Why do you think giving an offering was the central act of worship in early times?
    Do you think that giving is central to what we do today? How do we change?
    Why is giving challenging today? How do we overcome this?
  • Wrapping it Up
    We’re done!!!