Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. I can attest to that truth. Beth and I love doing for others. We enjoy watching their faces when they realize they are loved.
Recently we had a young couple in our church face some financial hardships. The husband had been hired through a temp-agency. His temp agreement was coming to an end. He was expecting to go full-time with benefits. Instead they let him go.
The couple called asking for prayer. Their family was helping them out financially. He immediately signed up with Uber as he began searching for a new job. Amazingly he found a new job quickly, but the start date was six weeks out.
During our conversation, they asked about food pantries. I was able to connect them. Later in the week, I met up with them. The joy on their faces was priceless when I handed them a $200 gift card to a favorite grocery store (the gift cards were provided by our church family). They haven’t stopped thanking me yet!
I also enjoy watching others discover the joy in generosity. Over the last couple of years, Beth and I have befriended a young couple in our neighborhood. We enjoy having their little family over to our house for supper. It wasn’t long until they joined a small group we lead.
All their extended families live several states away, so Beth and I have offered many times to watch their kids. They finally took us up on it. You might think Beth and I were practicing generosity. And we were, but they brought home dessert for us. It was delicious. I couldn’t help but sense the pleasure they were experiencing as they handed us this simple gift. As good as that dessert was to my palate, it was even sweeter in my heart.
Jesus tells a story about a wealthy man who went on a long journey. While he was gone he assigned three of his employees to manage his money. The man gave each one responsibilities according to their abilities. Immediately the two who were given the most put the money to work and doubled it. The third was afraid of his boss and hid the money entrusted to him.
When the boss man returned from his trip, he called his employees in to get a report on his wealth. The first man brought the report and demonstrated how he had doubled his boss’ money. The second did the same. The boss was pleased and invited them to share in his joy. The third employee reported how he was aware of the boss’ business practices and was afraid to lose any of the money and so he demonstrated the money was safe.
This infuriated the boss. He called the man lazy and wicked. He fired him and gave the employee with the most money to oversee this man’s amount as well.
Let me share three thoughts from this story:
- Faithfulness Is Fruitfulness. Jesus tells us that if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit. He goes on to say our fruit gives God glory. Jesus spent His ministry fighting the religious elite’s fortress mentality. They had the doctrine right, but it never affected their hearts. Doctrine is not the end. Doctrine is the means. Good doctrine leads to good practices. God expects productivity.
- Fruitfulness Is Rewarded. The two employees were invited into their boss’ joy. God welcomes the fruitful to experience His joy! What better reward is their than to experience God’s peace and joy?
- Fruitlessness Is Pruned. A gardner will prune a rose bush because they know the best blooms come on new growth. In Jesus’ story the employee was fired. In the Kingdom fruitlessness is pruned.
Here is my point:
God owns everything. We are simply His money managers.
Our job is to manage everything He has entrusted to us: money, possessions, skills, time, relationships…well everything. He gives us the freedom to set our own salaries. We are responsible for taking care of our families and our needs to live. But it is never ours. It was, is and always will be His.
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is your heart will be also.” The context is the idea you cannot serve both God and money. Which ever one you choose will own you. You will either serve God or be enslaved to money. Jesus’ remedy is to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth. Here things will deteriorate, depreciate, or disappear. In heaven things are secure for eternity.
Randy Alcorn in his book, The Treasure Principle, says “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.” The idea is we are to use everything God has entrusted to us here on earth to store up treasures in heaven. Of course we are talking about money and possessions, but we are also talking about being generous with affirming words, quality time and the gift of your talents.
Generosity is the investment vehicle of eternity. Only the things done in the power of the Spirit’s transformative grace in our lives carries over into eternity. Generosity is a mark of this grace.
How are you doing with what God has entrusted to you?
A good gauge for faithfulness is not how much you know, but how much you obey. Knowledge does not produce fruit. Practice does.
Are you fruitful? Share a time with a friend when you helped someone sense God’s love and faithfulness to them. Or share a time when you saw generosity reproduced in someone else’s life because of your generosity.
Let me be honest. When you first choose to be generous, there is no joy in the decision. It is risky. It is scary. The joy is in the act of faith when you give. As generosity becomes a habit you will begin to see the joy will be front loaded as you discover opportunities for generosity!
Live in such a way as to store up treasures in heaven!