Summary: Christian parentsw need to model and teach how to live a generous lifestyle.
As we have looked together at certain values that should be part of our lives as Christian families, we began by talking about how God needs to be at the heart of our homes. That means that He must first be at home in every heart - our goal should be to see every family member come to know Christ as Savior. Beyond that, our goal should be to see every family member acknowledge Christ as Lord in their everyday life.
Next, we talked about the importance of valuing fidelity. A Christian home should be known as one where fulfilling our promises, being true to our word, and keeping our commitments is practiced, modeled, and taught.
Then, we considered the need for Christian families to value industry. We said that the Bible teaches that God’s people should be industrious and productive - that we should have a good work ethic. This should relate not only to the way we approach our jobs, but our marriages, our family life, our friendships, and every other area of life.
Now today, I want us to move a step further and think of yet another area of core value for the Christian family - generosity.
One of the most obvious characteristics of our Savior is His generosity toward us. Paul touches on this in Ephesians 5:1-2:
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that." - Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)
In verse 25, Paul begins with the word, "Therefore." As the old saying goes, "you should always ask, ‘What’s the ‘therefore’ there for?" Anytime we encounter the word, "therefore," it refers to something said previously. In this instance, Paul is referring to what he has just said about the need for God’s people to think and live like Christ (Ephesians 4:20-24). We would understand, then, that to be generous is to be like Jesus.
As a Christian family, we should value Christ-like attitudes and actions. Such living is characterized by generosity. Let’s notice what Paul tells us in our passage for today about practicing generosity.
1. Be generous with truth - vs. 25-27
We live in a day when it is common for people to run "fast and loose" with the truth. Consider these "Famous American Fibs": The check is in the mail. I’ll start my diet tomorrow. We service what we sell. Give me your number and the doctor will call you right back. Money cheerfully refunded. One size fits all. Your luggage isn’t lost; it’s only misplaced. Leave your resume and we’ll keep it on file. This hurts me more than it hurts you. I just need five minutes of your time. Your table will be ready in a few minutes. This won’t hurt a bit. Let’s have lunch sometime. We could go on and on.
God’s people are to be people of integrity - people who are generous with the truth. Sometimes it is easy to be generous with the truth. Other times it is not. Paul cites an example here of when being generous with the truth is not easy - when it has to do with being offended in a relationship.
Are you a truth-teller or a peace-keeper? Given a choice, most of us would like to just keep the peace. We think that if we’re honest, people will push us away. We’d rather not tell our boss what we’re thinking because he or she would just get angry. We’d rather not tell our spouse something because he or she will just get defensive. We’d rather not tell our teacher or parents the truth because they just wouldn’t understand.
Friends, when you submerge your true feelings in order to preserve harmony, you will undermine the integrity of your relationships. You might think you’re keeping the peace, but actually those feelings will go underground and eventually erupt. Paul says that such an approach "gives the devil a foothold" in our lives. It grants him opportunity to create even great problems between us and the other person.
Relationships are worth the effort associated with truth-telling. This should especially be true when it comes to relationships within our family. Think of this: If children do not learn how to honestly work through differences with others at home, how and where will they learn how to work through differences with others at school, at work, or in any other arena of life? Christian homes should be characterized by honesty, integrity, and authenticity. There should be an atmosphere of openness where, in a spirit of love, parents can not only be honest with children, but children with parents, and spouses with one another.