Summary: Generosity is a key factor in a life that God blesses. It goes much deeper than our money!
For three weeks, I have been speaking to you about God’s desire to bless your life! When I read the Bible about the experiences of people who lived close to God and with humble, obedient hearts, I find their lives to be deeply satisfying and lived with purpose. I’ve called this series, “Preparing to Prosper.” If you thought it was about growing rich or getting famous or possessing all your fantasies you know now, you guessed wrongly! I am urging you to living in a way that you are in position under the stream of God’s refreshing cascade of Spiritual water, so that your soul is refreshed. The Word says,
" Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." (Psalm 1, NIV)
Generosity - loving people with our resources
When the Mega-Millions lottery prize climbs into the stratosphere, like it did a couple of weeks ago, with a prize of $370 million, I indulge in ridiculous escapist fantasies about what I could do with a sudden windfall of wealth of that magnitude. What would it be like to pay off the church mortgage, to be able to fund tuition for poor students, to support various ministries with gifts that would let them accomplish their mission? I think of dozens of ways that philanthropy could make a difference in the lives of people around me. It’s fun, but foolish!
Most of us think, ’if I had more, then I would be more generous.’ The truth is that most of us adjust our standard of living upward when we have more resources available to us. As our income grows, we discover all kinds of ’needs’ exist in our lives that must be satisfied - a larger home, a newer car, a vacation to an exotic location, higher quality clothing, and things like that. Generosity will not necessarily increase if more ’stuff’ is suddenly available to us. Generosity is an attitude that we can develop whether we are poor or rich by society’s standard. All of us have something that others need: be it love, acceptance, support, time, or a listening ear.
And here is why I am talking about this subject in this series which is about preparing to prosper. Those who choose to live generously, God says, “will be blessed in every way, and will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God!” (2 Corinthians 9:11, CEV)
Consider this - "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."
(Proverbs 11:25, NLT)
Turn with me to a text commonly used in sermons designed to increase contributions, but that is not the way I’m reading it this morning. Rather I read it as a key text about preparing to enjoy the blessings of God.
TEXT - 2 Corinthians 9: 6-14
Before I read this passage, let me set it in context. It is written to the church in Corinth, one of the first churches that Paul planted, and one that had matured. The Corinthians enjoyed many blessings. It was in a city of considerable wealth, and we can infer from the letter that many of the Believers were enjoying prosperous lives. They had become more than a little self-satisfied and self-indulgent, even to the point of abusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their own pleasure and to impress each other with their ‘spirituality.’ So their spiritual father, Paul, sent them a couple of corrective letters that taught them about the proper way to receive God’s blessings, about the importance of humility, about practicing discipline in a loving way to produce pure lives, and ... as we see in our text today ... the importance of using their prosperity in a way that allows God to continue to bless them.
READ TEXT – Re-read v. 6
The law of sowing and reaping is a simple one in principle, If you plant a lot of seed you create the possibility of a large crop! Despite the simplicity of the principle, our sinful nature rebels against it. Sometimes all we can see is the risk that comes with putting the seed in the field. It is hard to part with what is in our possession, a sure thing, what we think we own. So, we are faced with a choice - hoard what we have and there is no harvest; or plant the seed and wait for the return that God promises.