Summary: Are you tight with your treasure? You’ll be tight with your heart as well. It’s the age old battle that we all fight… the battle between selfishness and generosity. Truly, it is more blessed to give generously than it is to receive.
The Generous Life
John 12:1-8 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
1. The Enemy of Generosity
-Selfishness is the enemy of generosity! We are born selfish. We master the word “mine” at a very young age. And sometimes we don’t grow out of it.
-Selfishness is a relationship killer! It kills marriages! It kills friendships! It kills family ties! And it can kill our closeness to God!
-Selfishness promotes self. Selfishness protects self. And selfishness provides for self. God is the one who is supposed to promote, protect, and provide for us. Selfishness wants to take the place of God in our lives! It is like a stronghold that the enemy starts early in our lives and he tries to fortify it as we get older.
-Judas shows his selfish heart when he said the expensive perfume that Mary poured out on Jesus was a waste. He said it could have been sold and given to the poor. Judas was trying to cover up his own motives by pointing the finger at someone else’s extravagance. He didn’t really care about the poor. Sometimes the perceived abuses that we holler about the most are the very ones we are giving in to. Judas simply wanted his own kingdom. He wanted all he could get out of everybody around him.
-Unfortunately, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to Judas. There are those who teach that serving God is all about us. But serving God isn’t all about what He can do for us. Yes, God gives to us and works on our behalf. That’s grace and salvation and God working in our lives. But service is about what we can do for God! It’s not about us, it’s about Him!
-Well, Judas was selfish, dishonest, and greedy for gain. In fact, Jesus picked him to be in charge of the money box. Jesus didn’t do that to set him up to fail. He did it to set him up to succeed! He gave Him every opportunity to overcome his selfishness by giving him responsibility in the area of his weakness. You might wonder if that really is the best strategy. Wouldn’t that expose his weakness? YES! Wouldn’t that mean he would be tempted to give in to his greed? Yes, but here’s the cool thing about temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
-Robert Morris shows a parallel between what Judas was doing and the tithe that belongs to God. Judas was in effect taking money out of the offering box. People would give to support the ministry and teaching of the Rabbi, Jesus, and Judas was taking it out. Now, I doubt there is anyone here who would actually take money out of the offering. That would be taking God’s money, right? Nobody here would take (or keep) what God says belongs to Him, right? But in Malachi 3 that’s what God said His people were doing by not bringing the first tenth, the tithe, into God’s house. He said they were robbing Him. Is it the same thing to not bring what God says belongs to Him and not offer it to Him as it is to take money out of the offering? I know this is coming on strong, but I believe that God still asks for the first and best of what He blesses us with, as a way to honor Him and remind ourselves that He is our protector and provider. Selfishness is the enemy of generosity and says, “I will promote myself, protect myself, and provide for myself. Generosity says, “I will release what does not belong to me, give from what does belong to me, and trust God for promotion, protection, and provision!