I Will Give Generously by Rick Burdette
I WILL – “I Will” Give Generously (with special credit to Thom Rainer and his book, “I Will”)
Matthew 6:19-21 (pg. 679) November 8, 2015
You can always see the priority of someone’s life by looking into two places…their calendar and their bank statement.
Our time and our money are two of the most precious resources we have here on earth…and in many ways you can’t get either back once they’re spent.
In the book “Don’t Waste Your Life” John Piper writes, “I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Reader’s Digest: A couple ‘took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells. . . .’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. “God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.” Most people slip by in life without a passion for God, spending their lives on trivial diversions, living for comfort and pleasure, and perhaps trying to avoid sin.
As I’ve shared with you before, Frances Chan’s quote captures the essence of what Jesus and John Piper also are conveying:
SHOW FRANCES CHAN PIC
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
I know this sounds simplistic but there are really only two lives you can pursue…a life where you try to get what you desire with your time and money…or a life where you try to glorify God with those things.
From the “get go” Satan has tempted us to pursue the perishable and God calls us to the eternal.
I. MOST PEOPLE WILL MAKE A LOUSY DEAL!
[Let me show you what I mean. I’ve got this rope, on one end of it is a tiny bit of red…Now let’s suppose that this rope represents your existence…in fact let’s imagine that one end of this rope keeps going and going and never ends…but this tiny bit of red represents your life here on earth. A time line of your existence…all we are consumed with is this little piece of red…I’m gonna eat good…I’m going to live to make myself comfortable…I’m going to enjoy myself…most people make a really lousy deal because you spend it all on this little tiny bit of your existence…most people don’t think about the millions and millions of years to follow. People think I’m stupid because I invest in what follows the red tape. No you’re stupid if you don’t. You think I’ve made a lousy deal…People who don’t invest in the eternal have made a lousy deal…because what we do in this little bit of red determines the forever of our existence!]
Jesus teaches with astonishing clarity and amazing authority…in fact in His sermon on the mount “the crowds were astonished at His teaching because He was teaching them like one who had authority and not like the scribes.” (Matt. 7:28-29)
Why wouldn’t He…He knew what waited after the red tape on the rope…he understood His eternal purpose for being here…He’d been to the restaurant and He knew how good the food was when He recommended it!
And in this context He “gets real” and starts to talk about money…you can almost feel the “discomfort” as He speaks with authority about “bank accounts.”
He says “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded or worse! Stolen by thieves…stockpile treasure in heaven where it’s safe from those things…the place where your treasure is, is where you’ll long to be.”
Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t save money…He’s focusing on the heart issue of money and the place it has in our lives…in fact, He clearly says, You will either have Him as Lord, or money as your Lord…you simply can’t have both as your Lord.
“If you are obsessed with money He isn’t your Lord. If your focus is on money instead of Jesus He isn’t your Lord. If you’re not generous with your money He isn’t your Lord.
Money isn’t the root of all kinds of evil…but loving it is!
“No one can be a slave of two masters, since He will hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” (Matthew 6:24)
We want to tiptoe through this minefield of money, but it’s an issue of great importance…Jesus said so.
Let me tell you why it’s so important that we are generous people.
II. SOULS ARE ETERNAL…MONEY ISN’T
[My brother in law David, whose dealing with cancer right now came from a pretty poor family, and there wasn’t a lot of support from them when he decided to go to Bible College and be a preacher…one of his first ministries while in school was in Berea…back then you wore suits on Sunday (I’m sure some feel we still should) but regardless, he didn’t have any so one of the elders at the church gave him 2 suits…the catch….he was the local undertaker…and the suits had no pockets…flaps where the pockets should have been…but no material for pockets…after all…these suits where meant for corpses…no need for pockets!]
That’s really what Jesus is saying in our text…there are no need for pockets when you die…everything money can buy perishes…but heavenly treasure doesn’t…giving is a true indicator of our heart because we give up something this world values tremendously for an eternal impact.
So what might change our attitude about giving generously? Thom Rainer says “The reality is that many church members have developed a consumer mindset on giving in their local churches if the Church doesn’t do things exactly as they want…they withhold their funds or decrease their giving.”
And yes, I know there have been preachers who have portrayed extravagant lifestyles…and have preached a “health and wealth gospel” that distorts the truth of real stewardship…but the reason we should give generously is that heaven will be populated by people…and the banquet should be open to those who can’t afford to get there!
[I didn’t sell my college ring last year to our offering to buy a shuttle bus, or build a playground. I sold it for Brownie & Jeanie and Paisley and Peanut…I thought of real people and future families that might be influenced eternally by some things that money can purchase…someday that shuttle bus and playground will rust and fade away…people’s souls never do.]
Jesus said, “when you put on a luncheon or a banquet, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbors. For they’ll invite you back and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” (Luke 14:12-13 NLT)
Someone much more insightful than me once said,
III. GRACE IS THE FACE LOVE WEARS WHEN IT MEETS IMPERFECTION
I would not be in the Kingdom of God today…or where I am at with my relationship with Jesus today without the many people who put up with me, did not give up on me, included me, helped me, and looked at me with grace.
They gave generously of themselves…and because of that this lame, crippled and blind sinner will have a place at the banquet table with Jesus.
Maybe that’s the exact reason the apostle Paul…who called himself the worst sinner that ever lived, wrote:
“Remember this, the person who sows sparingly reaps sparingly and the person who sows generously will reap generously. Each one of us should do what he’s decided in his heart to do – not reluctantly or out of duty, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
The Apostle Paul clearly ties our spiritual growth and the growth of the Kingdom to how we give…it’s a heart matter…reluctant legalistic givers and cheerful givers.
The word Paul uses for cheerful is “Hilarious,” Hilarious Givers. Sounds like the face of grace doesn’t it?
Hilarious is joy on steroids! It’s way beyond “happy” or “nice” or “funny.”
Hilarious describes laughter beyond your control…uncontrollable joy.
You can’t experience that by dutifully writing your check each week…or even signing up to automatically give electronically…unless you decide in your heart to focus on the people it reaches.
We don’t give to please a person or a set of guidelines…We give to please God and focus on people…by the way this is the only time the word “Hilarious” is used in scripture.
[By most accounts, every great athlete will tell you that the ironman Triathlon in Hawaii is the most grueling sporting event on the planet. Competitors swim 2.4 miles, ride a bike 112 miles, then wrap the day up with a short 26.2 mile marathon run.
A few years back, the cameramen covering the event for NBC struggles with their assignment. During most ironman competitions they would focus all their attention on those athletes who were leading the pack. But during this one, they found themselves captivated by another participant who was nowhere near the front of the race.
A father in his forties was pushing, carrying, and pulling his quadriplegic son through the entire race. He swam the 2.4 miles with his son in a special vest being towed behind him. He picked up his son out of the water and put him in a special basket attached to the front of his bike, and he pedaled 112 miles up and down mountainous terrain, leaning, straining, standing, sitting – assuming any posture that might help him bear the load of his son. He then set his son in a carriage and stood behind him, running with every ounce of energy left in his body, pushing him twenty six miles.
The television cameras were faced with an unusual dilemma – panning to the contestants who were leading the race and vying for the first place, or cutting farther back in the race where a father and son seemed to be chasing some other kind of victory. Darkness overtook the day as most contestants finished the race and settled into their hotel rooms to replenish their bodies. But the crowd didn’t thin. The crowds grew.
As the sun went down, people showed up. People stood anxiously at the finish line wondering if the father and son would even finish the race, when all of a sudden, someone yelled out, “Here they come!”
Floodlights clicked on down the final stretch of pavement as everyone watched Dick Hoyt, in a full stride, running toward the finish line with his son, Rick. And you should’ve seen the expression on Rick’s face! Jubilant, eyes wide and wild with an excitement his legs and arms could not express.
Rick knew he crossed the finish line because someone loved him enough to help him get where he couldn’t get on his own. As for Dick, a look of determination suggested he would not have had it any other way. Exhaustion and all, fatigue and all, perspiration and all – it was all worth it.
That my friends is “Hilarious” giving…and my brothers and sisters it’s all about getting someone we love to the finish line!