Summary: The power of true generosity challenges individualism of consumerism.
Given to Generosity
Brad Bailey – November 6, 2011
We’ve entered November…. heading into the holiday season. Which brings us into one of the great conflicts in our nature. In just a few weeks we will have a special day in which we stop and give thanks… we recognize the need to be grateful for all we have… and then within hours we are unleashed to into a shopping frenzy… to become consumed with buying new stuff for the Christmas season.
This past week… sat down as a family and talked about getting some perspective ahead of time.
This morning God invites us to do the same.
As we continue in our series ROOTS… seeking to recapture the life of Jesus in us… by looking at the first followers of Jesus in the Book of Acts…we see the power of being changed in how we related to our possessions.
Acts 4:32-37 (NIV)
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.
Here we see a quality that flowed into the nature of those who first began living in the life of Jesus… GENEROSITY… they were GIVEN TO GENEROSITY.  
As you heard of what unfolded… perhaps like me you heard something both inspiring and intimidating.
Such generosity is inspiring. Generosity is perhaps the greatest quality that can be attributed to anyone. The English word is derived from that which infers nobility...that which reflects what bears the highest dignity. When we speak of a generous portion… it means larger.
A generous person is larger… more truly fulfilling their greatest dignity.
But generosity is often conflicts with something else within us. We love to give… but we really want to get as well… maybe even more.
BOY TELLS BROTHER "TO PLAY JESUS" IN SHARING
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, Ryan, 3.
The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. "If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, "Ryan, you be Jesus!"
So lets stop for a moment and pray… and ask God to help us.
“Father… you have gathered us to grow us… to grow us to become more like you. We are inspired but intimidated. For to become more generous will likely challenge our grip… our control… our sense of ownership. Teach us how to be more like you.”
I want to offer several points which God teaches us about generosity…
1. Generosity rises above the individualism of consumerism…as well as the imposing of communism.
Some have read this description of the first to lives who took up the way of Jesus and saw a form of communism…but actually …
The power of true generosity challenges the nature of communism.
This generosity is rooted in the validity of personal stewardship (relative ownership)
Rooted in personal care and responsibility… something freely chosen… not imposed … not controlled by force.  
The Scriptures don’t quench incentive to work… they embrace personal responsibility…
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
Notice it does not say “If a man can not work”… but “will not work.”
The generosity that flows from God is not a call to simply enable some to live off others… but rather to share resources among those committed to the common good.
The power of true generosity also challenges individualism of consumerism.
Jesus came to unite us with the Father… and with all His children… which confronts our self consumed lives… and the greed that flows from it.
God created the potential to create wealth… and values it. The problem is not wealth itself… but greed… not money but the love of money.