Extravagant Generosity

God is truly so amazing in His timing! With everything that is going on with our crazy life these days, I am getting asked more and more how in the world we expect to survive financially. I am not naive to think that we just don't need money, nor do I believe that we need tons of money to live the "happy life."

I am so grateful that just this week in our godly growth class we talked about a chapter in The Gospel book that was about just this very thing. I, in no way, can articulate everything quite like the author does so I just want to share some things with you about what he says... for those who may also want to learn.

I first would encourage each of you to get your Bible and look these things up for yourself. We all to often don't think that the Bible could possibly tell us what to do with our money these days, since it was written oh so long ago... but I would totally disagree now after having it all explained to me. For so long, all I knew was that as a Christian God wanted me to tithe my first 10% of everything I made... but now I realize its not only this but instead its all His and He truly gives us everything we have for a purpose. And its not for ourselves.

Chapter 8 Notes on The Gospel
-"Understanding the gospel will certainly lead you to extravagant generosity." 2 Cor 8:9 says, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." This is known as the Great Exchange. If we understand what Jesus gave up to save us, how could we not willingly and joyfully give up our possessions so that others might have life also?
-There are 2 errors he says that Christians have in their attitudes toward giving:
      1. "God wants 10%, and after that you can do whatever you want with your money."
      *When we give to God primarily in order to get more from Him, we are not worshipping God; we   are using Him in order to get more blessings.
      2. "The only think you should do with your money is give it away to the poor."
       *This is the opposite perspective and we must correct this kind of thinking because it has no practical end. If a person compares their sacrifice to that of Jesus, they will always come up short. We must also realize that God does not need our money.
-We give in joyful response to the grace of Christ because there is nothing we'd rather do with our money than glorify Him and see His kingdom come on the earth.
-Most of us want an exact standard that God expects of us. Okay so just HOW much are we to give? Greear says, "there is no one answer... a spirit of generosity is simply not something you can produce by establishing a standard."
-Greear does encourage to hold the following 6 principles in tension:
1. God gives excess to some so that they can share with those who have less. (2 Cor 8:13-15)
2. Jesus' radical generosity toward us serves as a model and a motivation for our radical generosity. "Jesus did not merely tithe His blood, He gave all of it. As God increases our ability to earn money and gives us greater positions of power, we should leverage that power and money like Jesus did- not to increase our standard of living, but to increase our standard of giving.If we see someone who has a need that we know we can meet, how can our heart not want to help them?
3. The Holy Spirit must guide us as to which sacrifices we, personally, are to make. Each of us have different passions, talents, resources, etc. so we cannot all expect to give to the same things. For example, some may have a heart for feeding the hungry and volunteer at a homeless shelter. Others may have a heart for orphans and choose to give financially to someone who is adopting.
4. God delights in our enjoyment of His material gifts. 1 Tim 6:17. Scripture tells us God is the ultimate Daddy. He loves to delight us with all kinds of blessings (Luke 11:11-12)
5. God, not money, should be our primary source of beauty and security. "Many of us save up money obsessively for a "rainy day"; others spend money frivolously to acquire the most up-to-date status symbols and creature comforts. For the former, money is their primary source of security. For the latter, their primary source of beauty. Christians who worship God, not money, need much less from the world to be happy and secure."
6. Wealth-building can be wise. "Building wealth can actually increase your ability to be generous. Having money on hand can allow you to be strategically generous when the right moment arises. Now, again, if you held this principle alone (and not in tension with the others), it would lead to the hoarding of wealth, something Scripture clearly condemns in James 5:1-5."

In closing he says that the gospel writers resist the temptation to reduce Christianity to laws. They instead focus on the motive of the heart. We must each individually ask questions like these:
-What does your spending show that you delight in?
-What does your saving show that you find security in?
-Whose kingdom are you building?

"Jesus did not put me here on earth to pursue self-benefit. He put me here to leverage my blessings, including the American dream, for the purposes of the gospel. People who die without Christ go to hell forever. The only way they can hear about the gospel is through us. We mush awaken from the American dream to the gospel reality. And think about this soberly: Soon we will stand before King Jesus, and we will have to give an account for what we did with what He placed in our hands."

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