Christmas Generosity [11-29-20]

Updated: Jan 6


Merry Christmas on this beautiful first Sunday in Advent. Merry Christmas to those worshiping at home. We have done everything we can to connect our online worshipers with what's going on here in the sanctuary. Our goal is keeping everyone as safe as possible while also worshiping in ways that are pleasing to God. Amen?


During the Christmas season, one of the words you'll hear most often is "gift." It started with "Black Friday," although this year it seems like "Black Friday" started sometime around Labor Day. I wonder how the current state of Covid-Affairs is going to affect gift buying and giving. Just remember, your pastor isn't concerned about any germs that might hitchhike on the gifts you shower him with. And my understanding is that the virus has a very short shelf life on cash, especially tens and twenties.


In more ways than one, our Christmas focus is on God's gift to us. The first Christmas gift was God's gift of Himself. God gave us His Son to die on the cross for our sins so we could have our past forgiven…and a purpose for living…and a home in heaven. Jesus is the first and the best and the perfect Christmas gift. You can never be disappointed in what you did or didn't get for Christmas because nothing compares to God's gift of His Son. Here again is what Professor Pat Sawyer said:

If you believe you are part of what Jesus was doing on the cross, understand - You weren't Jesus' friend that He was delivering from the unjust tyranny of an oppressor; you were His enemy that He was delivering from the just wrath of God. {Romans 5:10 - "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."}. Miss this, miss God.

That is the all-sufficient gift God has given us. We need nothing else.


In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul says, "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"


Christmas is about generosity. Acts 15:11 says, "But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." There's that word - grace - unmerited, unearned gift from God. Christmas grace = Christmas gift from God.

If it weren't for God's generosity, we would have nothing. John 1:16-17 puts it this way:

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Every good thing in your life is evidence of God's generosity.


Here's how this is connected to the season of giving…God wants us to be generous, too. God is generous and He wants His children to be generous. Are you with me on that? If you're a parent, you want your children to be generous. There's nothing more discouraging than a child who won't share.


Here's something you might want to write down:

God Wants Generosity to be a Habit of My Life.


As we move forward on generosity, here are two things to keep in mind. There are two kinds of people in life:

  1. GIVERS.

  2. TAKERS.

You have to decide which one you want to be. Are you going to be a giver

or a taker?


Let's now look at six reasons why God wants to build a spirit of generosity into our lives.


1. It Makes Me More Like God.


Jesus spoke more about generosity than almost anything else…more than

heaven or hell. Why? Because God wants us to learn to be generous.


1 Chronicles 29:16 says, "O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own." In other words, every time we're generous we become more like God, but it really came from Him in the first place.


2 Corinthians 9:13-15 says, "By their approval of this service, they will

glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" In a sense, generosity gives muscle and bone to an expression of faith. It shows where your faith is. A generous person is resting securely in the family of God.


Generosity makes me more like God.


2. Generosity is a Cure for Selfishness.


What is the opposite of generous? Right…greedy. Who can forget "Greedy Smurf?" His greed was always landing him in hot water with "Papa Smurf." God tells us that greed causes all kinds of problems. Proverbs 1:18-19 says:

But these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives.

Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors.

Greed is not good. God says so.


Here's an alternate translation of this Proverb you might want to write

down:

Greed Kills Selfish People.

And that's not only about physical life. I'm also talking about spiritual life…emotional life…relational life. Can you really have a meaningful relationship with a selfish person? Greed makes people miserable.


Here's what God says. When we give our hearts grow biggest. That's what happened to the Grinch, right? When we give, we grow more like God. Every time we give we become more spiritually mature. Generosity is a sign that we are growing in our relationship with Jesus Christ.


3. Generosity Deepens Relationships.


Whenever we give, it creates community. Giving strengthens connections.

It deepens relationships. It connects us to others. You bake me a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, you've got a friend for life. But seriously, when we do something generous for another, we are connecting. Maybe there is such a thing as cookie connections!

Imagine, for a moment, that after worship someone comes up to you, and says, "I don't expect anything from you; I just want to do something kind for you," and they hand you a hundred dollar bill. Generous, right? Kindhearted. At some level, closeness has been nurtured.


Here's something to remember:

You Can Give Without Loving but You Can't Love Without Giving.

Generosity is a God-given relationship response in our lives. Love and give

are the most positive four-letter words in the English language.


Jesus talked about that love-language a lot. He talked about the power of giving. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, "Your heart will be wherever your treasure is." Generosity draws you toward whatever you're giving to. We want our giving to be an expression of who or what we love.


4. Generosity Stretches My Faith.


Do you believe that there's more to life than mere possessions? It's often

what we sacrifice that leads to deeper faith. That's why God has connected

the law of the harvest with generosity. Here's how it's put in 2 Corinthians

9:6:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

What farmer sits on seed while the field is empty? You have to plant in order to harvest. And what God is saying here is that generosity leads to spiritual growth. That's the primary reason to give. Of course, the Bible does teach that God can add more riches to the generous person, because He knows they can be trusted to continue to be generous with such material things. Jesus even said God will take material blessing away from a greedy person because the generous person is being more like God by sharing them. That law of the harvest is real. It's in the Bible. But it's not the primary reason to be generous. At a deeper level, when we are generous, we grow spiritually in our relationship with God. Generosity draws us closer to God. It grows our faith. It will happen all the time.

5. We Are Happiest When We Are Generous.