Sermon Notes: Generosity 101

Introduction: Generosity, Money, Giving.  This is one topic that congregations do not enjoy hearing about AND one of the topics that pastors do not like to preach or teach on.  This is an area that I personally struggle with.  But before you stop listening, let me share a secret about my feelings on this topic.  As a pastor, I am not a fan of the way giving, generosity, money has been taught in the church.  Much (not all) of the curriculum or teaching I have discovered focuses too much on guilt and shame to get results.  Today’s passage shows us how generosity is good news not bad news. 

Give (Vs. 14-18)

·         Vs. 14-Good to share in my troubles

o   The Greek word translated “share” emphasizes that participation. Same root word used in Philippians 1:7. The basic translation, “fellowship,” means a deep partnership of two going the same direction.[1]

o   Paul had experienced many hardships (persecution, currently in prison, in need, hungry-vs.12) Listen to Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28- with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

o   Why does Paul share this?  Not for sympathy but to show how God used others to come alongside of and help him.

o   Church, we need each other.  However, in our culture we try to be independent. It’s OK to ask for help. But we can’t help if we don’t know about your need.

§  Often we think people will just know that we need help.  I don’t know about you, but I am sometimes so self-focused that I miss the needs around me. 

o   May the Holy Spirit empower us to live out 1 Corinthians 12:26- 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. May people see how we love one another at Hesston MB and want to know why.

·         Vs. 15-The Philippians gave Paul aid when other churches were not

·         Vs. 16-They even gave more than once

·         Vs. 17-18-Paul is grateful and thankful for their gift.

o   Vs. 17-I struggled with the phrase-“credited to your account”

§  Asked some other pastors I trust and respect for input.

·         Byron Yawn-a financial term- acknowledgment that the gift was received from Epaphroditus--not something that earns favor from God (spiritual)-end of year giving statement

·         Paul Dunk-he's seeking the fruit (evidence of the Spirit's work) that's revealed by their generous giving. He says he seeks the fruit that increases to their credit (ESV) - so what He's primarily interested in, is not the behaviour of giving - but the virtue underneath the action. That is the encouraging evidence of the Spirit's work he's most interested in.

o   Vs. 18-Fragrant offering, acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God

·         We hear offering and think “have to”

·         We hear sacrifice and think bad.

·         We hear pleasing to God and focus on us.

§  Does this mean giving/generosity is forced or drudgery and giving a lot is how we keep God happy with us? No.  It’s a reminder that our generosity or giving is a blessing to us and it blesses God.

§  Acts 20:35- ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

·         Not a passage to make you feel guilty and pressure you to not be selfish. Instead to realize that by giving God is working on our head, heart, and hands.

·         We give out of joy, delight, and gratitude for what God has DONE

o   What has God DONE?

§  God created.

§  God provides.

§  God restores, redeems, reconciles us.

§  God loves.

§  Jesus saves us.

§  Jesus forgives us.

§  Jesus takes our place (receives wrath, judgment, punishment) we deserve.

§  Jesus defeats sin, death, Satan

§  Holy Spirit gives gifts

§  Holy Spirit empowers us to live

§  Holy Spirit reminds us who God the Father and Jesus is

§  Holy Spirit guides us to truth.


o   Three important conclusions regarding giving and receiving: giving brings blessing to the one who receives the gift. Giving brings blessing to God. Giving brings blessing to the one who gives the gift. (David Jeremiah pg. 254, Count It All Joy)

 

Receive (Vs. 19-20)

·         Vs. 19-my God—personal relationship.  Do we talk about God as personal or impersonal?

o   Psalm 18:2- The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

·         Vs. 19-Will meet all your needs-God provides

o   Are you in need?

§  Ask God to provide.  Are your needs not being met?  Ask the church for help.

o   Not according to what we do; according to His glorious riches

§  We, as Americans, hear riches and think stuff, money. 

§  Our brothers and sisters around the world hear riches and think about God, relationship with Him.

·         When I was in Guatemala, one of the principals of a school was talking about prosperity and we asked him to define it, he explained prosperity this way: “The students realize they are blessed to have a relationship, and hope in Christ, which brings a new outlook on life. Even though they are not prospering materially, their souls are prospering through the deepening of their knowledge and understanding of the Lord. Moreover, they are able to live in victory through Christ’s death and resurrection.This mindset, in spite of their circumstances, is powerful, and brings sweeping changes within families and the community. We have seen the prospering of one child’s soul bring his whole family to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, prospering the soul of each member.

§  God meeting our needs is so much bigger than just finances. The reward is given to his saints through union with him[2]

o   God will supply all their needs (not their wants, necessarily, but their needs) according to His riches (not theirs, but His, which are better) …Not because He owes you a thing, but because He loves you and is gracious beyond measure. (Matt Chandler, pg. 217, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain)

·         Vs. 20-God receives all the glory

o   Paul ends by reminding us and the Philippians that it is not about praising Paul or church in Philippi or you or me or even Hesston MB.  It is all for God’s glory.

o   Closes with doxology-praise

o   Psalm 115:1- Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Closing:

·         Rather than give you an amount or percentage for generosity, let me encourage you to ask God.

·         Abide-Remember verse from the parable I taught two weeks ago: Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luke 15:31)

·         I firmly believe that as we understand who God is and how good, great, awesome He is, remember He is generous, gracious, gives abundantly, provides and meets all our needs and comprehend how much He loves us, we will become more generous and give abundantly out of joy, delight, and gratitude.

·         Doxology-All for God’s glory.



[1] Melick, R. R. (1991). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Vol. 32, p. 155). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[2] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Philippians (p. 159). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

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