Summary: The church and our lives should be one of generosity and giving.
Giving It Away
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Most Christians know this verse. Martin Luther penned the word “sola” in the margin of his Bible emphasizing that we can do nothing to earn salvation. Instead it is a gift from God. He has given us the gift of life – now with abundance and with infinite riches in the forever.
But while most Christians are familiar with this verse many are not aware of the next…
Giving Grace… Giving Life
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The New Year is a time to reflect and prepare. It’s a time for second chances, fresh starts, and new ways of living. During the month of January I will be sharing with you the 2012 vision for ministry at MCC based on Ephesians 2:8-10.
It’s not a new vision. It is the natural outgrowth of a church growing in spiritual maturity and in God’s grace. Look again at the verses in Ephesians 2.
Verse 8 tells us that we have been given God’s grace, that is the free gift of life – abundantly now, and joyfully tomorrow when we cross into eternity.
Verse 9 points out that this gift was not and indeed, cannot be earned by anything we have done.
In Verse 10 our purpose on this earth is revealed. It is to take the gift of life we have been given and to give it away through good works.
The church and our lives should be one of generosity and giving. These are not just words. This is a philosophy of life that invades everything that we do. When this way of thinking becomes a way of living it inhabits the totality of
your existence. Generosity isn’t something you do. It is the description of what you are.
Our vision for ministry at MCC in 2012 is one that based on a culture of generosity.
Watch this… (video)
A Culture of Generosity
* Generosity in supporting the Ministry of MCC
* Generosity with our Brothers and Sisters
* Generosity in Our Community
In the next several weeks I’m going to be teaching about generosity, stewardship, debt, giving, and whole lot of stuff about money.
You need to know three things going into this series of teaching… full disclosure.
1. I like to talk about tithing and giving offerings in church because it is closely connected to our spiritual wellbeing.
2. Someone is always uncomfortable when I teach on money. I have had people quit coming to church because I preached about money. I’ve even gotten a few anonymous letters – which I don’t read. (If it’s anonymous I can’t deal respond to the person and it just riled up with nowhere to go. If you send me a letter – sign it!)
3. Generosity makes me uncomfortable. This not my natural gift. My gift is being frugal. I am not a generous person. I am cheap. It’s hard for me to be generous.
So with those three thoughts let’s look at how we can be generous at MCC.
Generosity in supporting the Ministry of MCC
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
The storehouse is the church. It’s where God has planned for his ministry to happen. The means by which he has planned to support his work is through the return of the tithe.
A tithe is 1/10 of your increase. 10% of your income belongs to God. It’s not giving a donation to the Salvation Army… that’s an offering. It’s not buying new clothes for Sunday… that’s for you. It’s not dropping $5 in the offering box… that’s a tip.
I’ve taught about tithing many times. I believe in it yet statistically, the average giver in church gives around 2%. That’s the average. There are some who give beyond the tithe. There are some who don’t give anything.
Tithing is God’s plan for financing the work of his Kingdom on earth – through the blessings he provides his children.
Now, I know that the idea of 10% can be a bit of a shock to some people… You mean God’s serious about this? Yes, he is!
I remember when I first came to MCC a young couple came to me who were engaged to be married. I did some counseling and the topic of money came up. The guy was less committed than the lady but he asked me what they should give to the church so I taught them about the tithe. He listened without saying much. The next week he brought up the subject again and asked again about the tithe – this time wanting more details. I let him know we were talking about 10% of income. One tenth of your increase – If you brought home $4000 dollars in a month, we’re talking $400 dollars returned to God.