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Living Generously With My Finances

Sharing God's Word, Living His Love
Generosity 1

2 Corinthians 9:6-12

March 17, 2024

When you go to the doctor for a check-up, he or she will often begin to press on various parts of your body, asking, “Does this hurt?”  If you say “yes,” that often means one of two things.  Either the doctor has pushed too hard, or there’s something wrong, to which the doctor will say, “We had better do some tests, because it’s not supposed to hurt there.”

When pastors preach on being generous with our finances, some people may express their discomfort by criticizing the pastor.  When this happens, it usually means one of two things.  Either the pastor has pushed too hard – maybe he wasn’t very sensitive; or perhaps there’s something wrong.  If that is the case then we definitely need the Great Physician, Jesus Christ, in our lives, because it’s not supposed to hurt there.

One of the great truths of Scripture that I have learned and have personally found very comforting in my life concerning financial responsibility comes from Philippians 4:19 that says, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Jesus Christ.”  Not “some” of your needs, not “most” of your needs, God promises to meet all of your needs.  However, that does not mean that life will be easy or free of pain.  In fact, God said in His Word that we would encounter storms and difficulties, but He also said, “I will be with you always.”  Behind every promise in the Bible, there is a principle – a key, and today I would like us to consider the key that unlocks this promise where God says, “I will meet all of your needs.”

In our second lesson for today from 2 Corinthians 9, it says in verse 6, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”  This verse contains a concept that applies to every area of our lives – time, service, prayers, witness, love, and finances that we have been looking at for the past 6 weeks – what you sow is what you reap in life.  We said at the start of this sermon series that Generosity is a lifestyle in which we share all that we have, are, or will ever become as a demonstration of God’s love and a response to God’s grace.  But it is illogical to give away when you don’t first have your own needs met.  It doesn’t make sense.  However, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God said, “My ways are not your ways.”  So with that in mind let’s consider the human ways in which we try to meet our financial needs.

I had a pastor who told me one time to think about the financial resources God gives you like 10 apples, with each apple representing an area where God wants you to use your money.  God gives us financial resources and says, “I want you to use the money I give you to take care of your family, your home, utilities, clothing, food, living expenses (car, phone, taxes), use some to help others, put some in savings, and use some for yourselves, but I also want you to give some back to Me as a way to show your worship and praise, and then I’m going to use what you give to Me to accomplish my purposes in providing spiritual care to others.”  Unfortunately many of us find ourselves being pulled by society to spend our money in so many ways that we find ourselves thinking, “I can’t make on these 9 apples.  How can we pay the bills and do all that we need to do or want to do on just 9 apples?”

So we often take that apple intended for God and we start to split it up saying, “There is a trip I would like to take to the mountains, it would be a great trip for the whole family, so I don’t think God would mind if I take a little bit of His apple for that trip.  And then Easter is coming and I need to get some gifts for everyone.  It’s kind of like giving – it’s not to God, but I am getting things for others, so I’ll just take a little bit more of God’s apple, he’ll understand.  You know retirement is coming up now that the children are out of the house and I need to put some more into my retirement account, so I’ll just take a little more from God’s apple.  Plus, I have some medical expenses and I never put any money away for medical bills.  Oh, and since March Madness is about to begin I really could use a new big screen TV, fortunately many stores are having St. Patrick’s day sales.  And finally we look at what we have left over and we say, “Lord, this is your part, I’m going to give this to you.”

When people take this approach to their giving it doesn’t mean they’re greedy, they just operate by different principles.  They see themselves as being responsible for meeting their own needs and desires first, and then whatever’s left over goes to God.  But the problem with giving leftovers is that your generosity can never exceed your ability to meet your own needs.  The moment you face financial uncertainty, generosity takes a back seat.  God says He wants you to be a “cheerful giver,” but if you are focused only on meeting your own needs, how can you answer God’s call to be generous?

On the other hand, those who give to God first – off the top, who always give that whole apple to God, they understand that God promises to meet all of our needs.  They feel free to invest in God’s interests first and their own second.  Leftover givers always struggle to let go in this area, because they are afraid they cannot manage all of their financial responsibilities and give to God’s work, too.  Jesus told His disciples, “Give and it will be given to you.”  But that doesn’t seem logical, shouldn’t I meet my own needs first?  God says, “I know it doesn’t seem logical, because my ways are not your ways.”  Fear has the power to make us act contrary to our beliefs.  Fear makes us irrational.  Isn’t it rational to trust God with your finances, since He promises to meet all of our needs?  Isn’t it irrational to trust God with your eternal destiny, but then reject His invitation to be your financial partner?

Talk to anyone who gives to God first, off the top, and I guarantee they are a cheerful giver.  It doesn’t mean they are rich or that it’s easy for them to give in this way, but I know from personal experience that when I changed my approach to giving many years ago from giving God my leftovers to giving to God first, I had more money than I ever had in the past.  Logically, that doesn’t make sense, but again, God said, “My ways are not your ways.”

The bottom line is that our giving must be based or in response to our relationship with God.  When you have a relationship with someone and you love them, you will want to give to them, cheerfully, and you will want to be generous.  For example, many of you know that my daughter, Sarah, is getting married next January.  If I were to say to her, “Sarah, I will be happy to pay for your wedding dress.  I would like you to go to the local bridal shop by the end of the month, because I have learned they are having a bargain basement Easter sale on dresses.  In particular, they have a rack of factory rejects that were slightly damaged during shipping.  From that rack I would like you to find the cheapest wedding dress in your size and I will buy it for you to show you how much I love you.”  Don’t you think that would take the joy out of the gift?  Do you think my daughter would be excited?  But that’s the way some people treat their financial giving to God.  They think, “How little can I give to God and still claim to be a Christian?”  Giving proves the sincerity of our love, and we will never be like Jesus until we learn to be generous in every area of our lives.

Sowing and Reaping – Generously and Cheerfully. This is a principle God wants us to follow.  I know this is a principle Randy Williams has followed in his life when it comes to giving to God and I would like Randy to come forward to share with us about how God has always met his needs during good times and bad.

Maybe you’re not ready today to give the full apple to God, so I encourage you then to start somewhere.  Instead of giving God your leftovers, use the chart on your bulletin insert and start with 2% or 4% and maybe soon you can add a percentage of your income each year until you reach 10%.  Or maybe you are at 10% and you want to step up to 12% or 15%.    Whatever we do, let’s insure we are joyful and generous in giving our best to God, since He always gives His best to us – including the gift of His perfect Son, Jesus, so that we can live forever with Him.

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