14 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF GENEROSITY

14 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – THE POWER OF GENEROSITY

We’ve already done a whole study on the kingdom power of righteousness, zeroing in on the protection Jesus’s righteousness gives us against the devil’s wiles.

Now we will go into more detail about our response to our standing in righteousness – generosity.

The Old Testament has much to say about generosity; in fact, “generosity” and “righteousness” are used interchangeably in many passages. For example:

“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.”Psalms 37:25-26 NIV

The Hebrew word for righteousness is “tsadaq”; if you add an “ah” to the end of “tsadaq”, you get “tsadaqah” which means “righteousness revealed” and is often translated as “generosity”. Through our generosity, we show the righteousness that is in us.

Generosity begins with an attitude… gratitude towards God for His immense generosity towards us.

“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:13-15 NIV

Any generosity we show to others is or should be rooted in God’s generosity towards us. We sometimes give out of guilt or compulsion but our true motive should be a response to what God has done for us.

I found this verse in the Old Testament which shows us how much God values our expressions of gratitude.

“Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Psalms 50:23 NLT

God’s generosity towards us is centred in the person of His Son and comes to us through His attitude of mercy and grace. His generosity is much more than just money and material things. His generosity lies behind everything He has done and still does for us and is rooted in His love. In fact, God takes care of all our needs because He is our Father.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.  Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” Matthew 6:7-8 NLT

God’s generosity towards us covers all His dealings with us and goes right back to His original intention to have a family of sons and daughters who live together with Him in love and harmony.

Since His human family became dysfunctional through sin, God’s mercy and grace through the sacrifice of His Son have enhanced the revelation of the greatness of His generosity towards us.

Money and greed hold unrighteous people in the world system in absolute slavery. In fact, Paul hit the nail on the head when he wrote..

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil….” 1 Timothy 6:10 NLT

How true this is and how well we know it from the plight our own country is in right now! Even the most humanitarian of professions, medicine, is, in the end, driven by money.

Jesus used a Hebrew grammatical construction (called a chiasm) to explain the root cause of our attitude towards money.

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:24 NLT

This chiasmic construction focuses on the central statement, not that no one can serve two masters but that “you will hate the one and love the other” and that “you will be devoted to one and despise the other.” In other words, you will serve the one you love, be it God or money.

Since we have been made a new creation through the power of the gospel, we have a new love and a new motive for being generous.

However, money, or more accurately, mammon – the god (demonic power) of money, is so powerful that it can easily drag believers back under its sway if we don’t cling to the right attitude towards God and His mercy towards us.

“And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10 NLT

Although our generosity towards others must be much wider than just about money, since Jesus spoke more about money than any other subject, money plays a big part in the way we express our generosity towards others.

Firstly, let me explain that stealing in Hebrew thought was much more than taking what didn’t belong to you. It included withholding from others what you could give to help them.

In the end, it all comes down to the value we put on God’s mercy shown towards us in the gift of His Son.

This thought leads us to another… have we lost our first love?

The love of money is very subtle. It creeps in gradually when our attention is drawn to it either through poverty or wealth. If we don’t have enough, we crave more to survive. If we have enough, we want more to buy more things. Whatever our circumstances, money will rule us if it is the object of our attention.

How can we avoid being trapped by the love of money so that we do not become hoarders rather than givers?

  1. Of course, the first and best way to break the power of stinginess is to be a giver. The more we share our resources, the more we reap the benefits of generosity.

However, to be a generous giver, we need a motivation to give more powerful than the love of money.

  1. If money has taken over your thinking, it’s time to repent and return to your first love. What do I mean by “your first love”?

Perhaps you have been taught that first love is the wild, extravagant love you had for Jesus when you first believed. You just couldn’t get enough of Him. However, as time went on, your enthusiasm cooled and now you feel guilty because you just haven’t been able to recover that feeling.

The Bible gives us a different perspective on “first love”. If our love for Jesus is rooted in and has to find its motivation in ourselves, it is bound to fail. We are naturally fickle and fallible.

However, there is a source of love that will never fail.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:10, 19 NIV

Our love for God and others must be rooted in God’s love for us which He showed us by sending His Son to be the sacrifice for our sin.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

The solution is simple. We become like the thing we give attention to. The more we think about money, the more we will crave it. The more we focus on God’s love in Jesus, the more we will love Him and learn to be givers like He is.

Once we have money in its correct perspective – our servant, not our master – we will discover that generosity with our resources is a powerful kingdom tool for living under God’s rule in an ungodly world system.

How do we multiply our resources to meet our own needs and the needs of others?

The world’s economic system functions on buying and selling, profit and loss, and the accumulation of wealth through the addition of interest. Money has to work to make more money. So, the world’s focus is on making money and the motive is greed.

The kingdom’s economic system is different and very simple.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Luke 6:38 NLT

In the course of His many instructions about money, Jesus told us how to manage our money in such a way that we will always have enough and to spare.

  1. We must first settle the issue of ownership. Who owns the money we earn? God does! We, and everything we have, belong to Him.

“… You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price….” 1 Cor. 6:19-20 NLT

  1. Since we are stewards, not owners of what we have, God has the right to tell us how to use our money and possessions.

God has promised to take care of our material needs on one condition:

“So, don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33 NLT

“Live righteously…” What does that mean? We have already learned that, to live righteously means to be generous in all our dealings with people. This includes our attitudes and behaviour as well as our resources.

How do we do that? By God’s grace!!

He tells us to put our money into the “bank of heaven” by giving to those in need.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21 NLT

By sharing with others, we invest in a heavenly asset-management programme which has returns far beyond the meagre percentages worldly systems offer. God underwrites His promises which are infinite and limitless with the ownership of the universe.

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.” Psalms 50:12 NLT

He does not work by percentages or profit but by His own nature. God is a giver beyond anything we can imagine.

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32 NLT

In order to access His available resources, we need to change our focus. We are most often times need-conscious. We are concerned and pray about needs. Jesus said, “Don’t do that.” “So, don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ Matthew 6:31 NLT

Instead, focus on His kingdom. Take care of His business, and He will take care of yours. When we have a need, our concern should not be, “What can I do to make more money?” but “What can I do to show God’s love to someone else?”

This is a faith transaction that produces a miracle. God supplies our need by creating a current. When we give, we make space for more to flow back to us. This is how it works.

“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”  And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others…. “

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 10-12 NLT

What is God’s purpose in this divine economic system?

1. He is changing you and recreating in you the image of Jesus, His Son, as a member of His family.

“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT

2.He is meeting the needs of others through you.

“Right now, have plenty and can help those who are in need….”

3. He is meeting your needs through others.

“… Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.” 2 Corinthians 8:14 NLT 

4. He is being thanked, praised and glorified.

“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT

Paul shows us, from his own experience, how this principle works in practice.

“As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then travelled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once.

I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. Philippians 4:15-20 NLT

There are some rich pickings in Paul’s response to the generosity of the Philippian church.

  1. Paul does not specifically thank them for being generous. Was he being ungrateful? No, he was commenting on their generosity because they were the only ones among the churches that showed their obedience to their faith in Jesus. He was expressing his gratitude that they were demonstrating the fruit of the gospel in their gifts to him.
  1. He was more focused on the enrichment they would experience than his own financial gain.

“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts of the Apostles 20:35 NLT

Paul’s attitude exposes the remnants of selfishness that are still in us. We tend to get more excited about our own enrichment rather than the blessing on the giver.

  1. Paul elevated the grace of giving to an act of worship.

“… They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God…”

  1. Paul shows us how generosity creates the current that takes care of our needs.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

We must be careful not to take this promise out of context. Paul confirms what Jesus taught, that God’s generosity towards us, in this matter of our needs, is His response to our generosity towards others in need.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”Matthew 6:33 NLT

  1. Paul concludes with the motivation for everything we do in life, including the way we view and treat others.

“Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.”

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT

Once again, we come back to God’s original purpose – to have a family of sons and daughters who live together in love and harmony in the family of God. Through our attitudes and actions of generosity prompted by love, we are being renewed and restored to the image of Jesus.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

All Scripture quotations in this series

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Luella Campbell


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>