Saturday, August 16, 2014

Generosity- just one of God's aromas

Christians should carry with them wherever they go, the sweet fragrance of God's righteousness.” I believe that these fragrances should include: Love, Faith, Patience, Hope, Joy, Peace, Kindness, Care, Hospitality, and Grace.

Today I want to talk about generosity. Why is it important we develop generous hearts? What difference can a generous person make? And how can we start being more generous.

I don't know why but I really struggle with generosity. I am blessed. I go to an Adventist college, have always had plenty of good food to eat, and have even spent an entire eight months as a missionary in an impoverished country-- and still I'm not very generous.

And I didn't realize quite how selfish I am with my money and possessions until I saw someone truly generous and compared myself to them. Normally, I don't believe it's good to compare ourselves with others. But there's some people (probably a rare 3%) who are so awe- inspiring and just motivating- they push you to do better in your own life and be a better steward of God.

Now the question I have to ask myself is why am so stingy? Why am I not generous? What is the factor holding me back? As I thought about possibilities to this question, I have only come up with 4 solutions.

1. I don't believe that God has richly blessed.
2. I do not trust God to bless me when I give to others.
3. I am selfish and want to hoard all my money for myself. Afterall, I will need it at some point right.
4. I don't want God to bless me with more.

Now when I read these solutions over to myself, it's easy to think "no, none of those are me." But if you truly think about them, you might realize you do believe one of these things just a little bit. Like do you really believe that you are blessed? My parents have been saying this whole "richly blessed" thing alot lately and it's starting to rub off. At first it kinda annoyed me, because I was like "No mom and dad, we don't have that much money. We can't be sending other people this much money in gift cards or taking our friends out to eat." But then I started to think about Peru and service and just God's blessings. I am richly blessed and so are you. We are the wealthy in the world and the saddest part about it is we live our whole lives worrying about money and if we have enough. We are the wealthy. We are the 5%- who do have money for insurance, tv, and iphones. We are rich and richly blessed, so we might as well stop being selfish hoards of God's blessings. Thus there is no excuse why you can't be generous.

Excuse number three kinda goes along with this. "I am selfish and want to hoard all my money for myself because I will need it someday." I just think that this is a terribly sad way to live because I know a few rich people who are totally friendless. Well that's a lie, they buy off their friends. But what kind of friends are those? I will tell you the kind they are- the kind that will leave you and talk behind your back every single day. They are not true friends that love you. Being selfish won't help you be happy. It won't even help you live a long life. America and the media tries to sell you out on the latest gadgets but things and materials can never take the place of God or God-blessed relationships.

Speaking of God, let's look at excuse number two and four. If we are Christians, we are not simply encouraged to give. We are commanded to give. If we are selfish hoards- we are following the Devil. In Matthew 25, Jesus says Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me, whatever you didn't do for them, you didn't do for me. And He says in the last days, for those of us who never gave to the needy, the orphaned, or the hungry- He would say "I never knew you". Thus God says I gave to you. I blessed you because I love you. But I don't love you any more than anyone else thus I blessed you and I expect you to use that blessing to bless others. And not just that, but God loves a cheerful giver. And He says that when we give, we can even test Him out on this, but when we give He will multiply our blessings and bless us even more. So do you not want to be more blessed? It's kinda like this..

For Christmas when Tommy was eight Hid dad gave Him a colored yo-yo- it was pretty cool, the latest gadget at the time, and costs an entire $40. Tommy's dad told him to share with his brothers and sisters but Tommy was too worried his siblings would break the yo-yo. He didn't want to break it either. Instead of play with his yo-yo and share it with his friends and family, he hid it under his pillow. Once in a while, he would get it out to look at it and admire it, clutching it as if it was his greatest pearl in between his two little hands.

Next Christmas, Tommy's father wanted to get Tommy a collectors train that was worth $250 but he knew that Tommy's little brother Blake wanted the train as well. Blake had gotten a baseball last Christmas and his whole family had played with it all year. It had black spots and was so well worn- but the family had had so much fun. Tommy's dad thought about who he should give the new train set too: Blake or Tommy. Tommy still hadn't learned how to share. The father decided to give the brand new collectors train to Blake this Christmas, so the whole family could enjoy the fun.

God is like Tommy's father in a few ways: 1. He is rich. 2. He is not worried about our money or our financial situation. 3. He has presents and blessings just waiting for us. 4. He knows our hearts and if we are sharing and caring or if we are greedy. 5. He doesn't want to waste our blessings and will bless the person whom He trusts will share His blessing and bless others.

Thus why are we so stingy? Why do we hold onto our little yo-yo's as if they are all that life is about? May we let go of our greed, selfishness, and hoarding and keep our hands palms up- ready to give to share others and ready to recieve more blessings from God.

Do you want a practical image of what God's generosity looks like? My mom- Holly Bernhardt is checking out at the store. She sees a small box of chocolates that she really wants and decides to go ahead and purchase them. She hardly ever purchases these special, expensive chocolates. While checking out she notices two little girls to the right who are waiting for their mom to check out. She doesn't' know them but she guesses the little girls would like a piece of chocolate. She talks to the small girls- quickly becoming friends- and shares with them her precious chocolates- for no reason, just because she's kind. The little girls are SO EXCITED. Then up comes child number three and four to the cash register. My mom- without a concern- reaches in her small box of chocolates and takes out two more expensive chocolates. These kids' days are made! This is an example of generosity. Would you give up your favorite, expensive chocolate? Ya I didn't think so ;)

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