Summary: It is impossible to outgive God.
Getting Fit: Generosity
Rev. Brian Bill
It’s really great to be back in the pulpit today, though I wonder if I should take a few more Sundays off. Didn’t Pastor Andy do a tremendous job preaching about witnessing last week? Actually, his sermon must have had some subliminal teaching about today’s topic because the offering was about 5 times more than it normally is! Check it out in the bulletin. Our weekly need is $10,860 and over $50,000 came in!
I received an email from Ken Fulkerson this week that makes me think that Pastor Andy should come back up here and preach again. Here’s what it said: “OK, Pastor Andy preaches and does a phenomenal job…hmmm…offering - $54,000…hmm. Don’t know whether to tell you to get well soon or take your time!”
I guess the pressure’s really on today because we’re going to take the offering after the message. One PBC member has dared me to do this for years because he thinks there’s a direct correlation between a good sermon and a good offering. We’ll see what happens.
Seriously, you can relax because I am not preaching in order to get you to give more to PBC. Our budget is doing fine. My concern is not so much whether we meet budget as it is whether each of us are honoring God with our finances because how we manage our money is directly linked to our discipleship. In fact, there are more verses in the Bible regarding our resources than about Heaven and Hell combined. Of the 38 parables Jesus told, 16 of them are about money. The Bible has fewer than 300 verses on prayer, less than 500 on faith and over 2,000 verses that deal with wealth and possessions! The inescapable conclusion is that how we deal with finances in general, and what we give in particular, is a big deal to God. And so we need to focus on our funds, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel because there is no way to separate faith and finances.
According to a new study on Christian giving called, “Passing the Plate,” more than one out of four American Protestants give no money at all. Of all Christian groups, evangelicals score best: only 10% give nothing and 36% report that they give less than 2% of their income. I was surprised to learn that the median giving for an American Christian is just $200 a year. One sermon title I came across captures the state of Christian giving: “Cirrhosis of the Giver.”
That really can’t be said about this church, however. I was really impressed, though frankly not surprised, by the results from the REVEAL survey that was taken by 222 PBCer’s a couple years ago. 47% of you report that you give 10% or more of your income to God’s work. This is certainly a generous group of people! When you throw in the well in Honduras, the Christmas Food Baskets, the WISH Backpack Project, the Caring Closet, the Gideon Offering, Project Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child, this church is filled with joyful and generous givers!
As we near the end of our “Getting Fit” sermon series, we’ve been learning how important it is to develop some holy habits so that we get into spiritual shape. We’ve tackled Discipline, Worship, the Bible, Values, Family, and Witnessing. As a way to follow-up from last Sunday, we’ve put a free book called, “Anchor for the Soul” on every chair. This book contains an easy-to-understand gospel presentation. We’d like to encourage you to give it to someone who is not yet saved. After you do, come back and get another one and give that away. We have a large supply so don’t worry about taking too many, as long as you give them to someone who doesn’t know Jesus…yet.
The word “generous” as used in the Bible means, “To show mercy or favor, to be freely gracious.” Someone with a generous heart is “ready to give with grace and liberality,” while a stingy hearted person is often filled with revenge and a desire for payback. To be biblically generous is to recognize God’s generosity to us in Christ and to give extravagantly in worship to Him, relative to what one has. For it is impossible to out give God.
To help us get into our topic of generosity, let’s consider a brief survey of some Scripture passages. Let’s start with Psalm 37:25-26 – “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.”
Did you catch that? When parents bust out with generosity, their children end up being blessed. I want to pause here to comment on a video that has gone viral and has been shown all over the country from CNN to WLS to Fox News Channel. During the blizzard in Chicago a woman apparently stole a neighbor’s shovel in order to dig out her car. Unfortunately for her, this was caught on video tape and the shovel owner decided to do some payback. The next day, he found her car and decided to use his snow blower and bury it with an avalanche of snow. It took her four hours to dig her car out – and he videotaped this as well. Commenting on the video, he said, “It felt really good. I’m not gonna lie. It felt really good.” When asked why he did all this, he said, “I did it for my two-year-old.” Apparently, he couldn’t finish building her an igloo without the shovel so he decided to seek revenge.