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God's Amazing Generosity

Revd. Steve - 15 Jul 2017

For over 40 years, Eunice Pike worked with the Mazatec Indians in south-western Mexico. During that time she discovered some unique facts about them. For instance, the people seldom wished another person well. Not only do the Mazatecs seldom wish others well, they also hesitate in teaching others their various skills and trades. If you ask the village baker, “Who taught you to bake bread?” his response would be, “I just know!” Eunice Pike discovered that this odd behaviour stems from the Mazatec’s concept of limited good.” They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another person, for example, how to bake bread, would drain yourself of the knowledge. To wish someone well means you have just given away some of your own happiness.

A culture like that robs people of one of the most important keys to living successfully, compare this to the giving away attitude of the public amidst the recent Manchester & London Bridge attacks & the Grenfell Tower disaster, as well as HP’s generosity, churches & mosques working together, nurses and Fire services going beyond the call of duty. AG

When generosity is expressed, healthy relationships are created, community connections are nourished and people are inspired. Here is the very thing Jesus calls us to - 

Astonishing Generosity - 

1.Astonishing Generosity reflects God’s sacrificial love

At the very heart of The Gospel is the God of generosity - ‘God so loved the world that He GAVE…’ John 3:16 

Notice the two main words love and give, revealing that -      To truly love is to give selflessly.

A story is told of some missionaries sharing their experiences of others who made an impact on their lives. One missionary said that there was a missionary couple who were simply un-selfish. Another said, that he witnessed a nun who was selfless. You see there is a world of difference between being unselfish and being selfless, the difference is that we crucify ourself with Christ and not simply serve when it suits us. As the old hymn states “I surrender all, all to Jesus I surrender..”

Many of us can be un-selfish, in fact we can train ourselves to be so, but to be self-less is to die to oneself completely. Selflessness (Phil 2) is at the very centre of God’s heart because to love is to give away oneself completely, unreservedly and uncompromisingly. To love costs!

Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(both sides of the same coin)

Therefore, to give generously is to love divinely. The theology of the ‘Cross,’ is so staggering that it teaches us astonishing generosity, as love can’t help but give.

When it comes to generous giving we see Jesus commend a poor woman who gave to the temple just two “mites”, an insignificant amount, yet Her giving received special notice from God. Now of course we don’t give to gain favour from God; we give because of God’s favour to us; so its natural to want to give and we do so cheerfully, because ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2Cor 9:7) If we aren’t able to give at present, then prayerfully present before The Lord your desire to do so, ask Him to settle your debts so that you are able to give. Work towards a deadline, and once achieved, set up a direct debit, that way it is part of your collective out goings.What The Lord doesn’t want is His children feeling burdened, shamed, harassed, cajoled or even manipulated into giving, I know of christians feel so pressurised to give that they get in debt as they give from their credit cards.This is poor stewardship of God’s resources. Our giving must reflect our love not our fear or legalism.

2. Astonishing Generosity blesses the needy.             Jesus is calling us to live lives that are astonishingly generous for the sake of others. Take for instance the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Matt 5:38-

This is the Jesus-shaped response, “You only get to keep what you are willing to give away.” revealing that: “Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes." (Mark 4:25, The Message)

The early church saw this generosity in God and so replicated it. Acts 4:23-5:11 shows that every church should never neglect the needs of others, as we have received so we give. It was because of unity that there was generosity. ‘All the believers were one in heart and mind’ (v32a) They had a liberating attitude to their possessions: ‘They shared everything they had… There were no needy persons among them’ (vv.32,34). Those who could afford it helped support those who were in need (vv.34–35). 

3 Astonishing Generosity is a testimony and Witness

"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matt 5:46 its said -  ‘Generosity is love in work clothes’

We must astonish those around us with our generosity, leaving them dumbfounded, flabbergasted for a rationale. We cannot only be good to those who are good to us. To follow Jesus, our generosity must flow to the very people we don’t want to be generous to. Ultimately, giving isn’t a matter of finance it is a matter of the heart. If we give meanly it reflects the way we see God, but, if we give astonishingly generously, its a witness to our God.

If we want to join Jesus’ revolution of astonishing generosity then we need to give like Jesus. His invitation in the Sermon on Mount is radical, expensive, and risky, but that’s Jesus. 

He is inviting us to join him as he reveals a Father who is always good, loving, and generous. If you want to follow him, then expect it to cost you something, and for most of us, it will cost us everything. Remember, “Freely you have received, so freely give.” 

ASHP, Father God doesn’t want our change, he wants our hearts. Amen.

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