The power of generosity
This week, we continue our Power Up series with a topic that is critical to powering up our spiritual walk and that is, 'The Power of Generosity.' If there is any area of Christianity that gets a bad rap, it is this one. But generosity is very important to God because without it, spiritual maturity will not happen in our lives.
As Christians, we believe that wherever our heart is, our money will go, but God says it is the reverse: wherever our money goes our hearts will follow. "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matthew 6:21 (NLT)
In 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NLT), the Apostle Paul congratulates the Corinthian church on their excellence, but, he ends by instructing them also to excel in the ministry of giving: "Since you excel in so many ways - you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us - now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving."
Generosity is a cornerstone in having a blessed life. Almost every time there is an instruction to give, there is a promise of blessing. There are at least two reasons for this: generosity improves the spiritual condition of our lives and the conviction that God is able to supply our needs is intended to free us to give generously, without fear that we will deprive our family or ourselves. "One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV).
In Luke 9 and Mark 6:30-43, Jesus used the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 to teach his disciples a principle about how the Kingdom of God operates. Jesus had just sent out the first 12 disciples and empowered them to heal the sick and spread the word that the Kingdom of God was near. They had done so and were reporting back to Jesus what had occurred. Jesus suggested that they go to a more secluded area to rest and debrief.
But the crowds followed them and Jesus on seeing them, "... had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." Mark 6:34 (NIV). Jesus turned and ministered to the crowd. Later, the disciples say to Jesus, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." Luke 9:12 (NIV). The disciples see trouble coming soon and they don't want the responsibility of the care of so many people.
The disciples experienced what we sometimes see as we look at our country. Christ is the answer for our nation, but the problems are so vast and overwhelming that we hesitate to get involved. Sometimes we want to pass off the responsibility to someone else. We don't naturally see the resources required to accomplish it, but we have to remember that we serve the God of the impossible.
So Jesus answered the disciples' suggestion with, "You give them something to eat." Luke 9:13 (NIV). He was stretching their understanding of how the Kingdom of God works. They had five loaves and two fish, which seemed an impossibly small amount for an impossibly large task. But, Jesus in this miracle, shows that when we carry what we have to God, He will use it in a supernatural way.
Jesus gave thanks, blessed it and gave it to them. And, as they distributed it to the people, it multiplied in such a way that all of the people received all that they needed.
When Jesus puts the onus of feeding the people on the disciples, He was communicating a number of things that have echoed down through the generations:
1. The blessing of God can make a little go a far way.
a. There was enough for everybody
b. There was food to spare; they took up 12 baskets full of broken pieces that were leftover, one basket for each apostle.
2. In the Kingdom of God, the supply for the work of God should come from the people of God.This includes tithes, offerings, and alms.
a. A 'tithe' is 10 per cent of your earnings given to your church and from a spiritual perspective, "The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives." Deuteronomy 14:23 (TLB).
b. Offerings are gifts that we determine to give God's work beyond the tithe and are like planting seeds for future harvest. "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously" 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NIV).
c. Alms is giving out of compassion to the needy and it gets the attention of God. God is pleased when we give to the poor, as seen in the story of Cornelius, a Roman army officer to whom God sent the message "...Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!" Acts 10:4 (NIV).
God can take what we supply and do a tremendous work with it. It will accomplish far more than the supply could do on its own. Will you allow Him to do it?