The Heart of Generosity
Pastor Travis Burkett
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
When you open your Bibles to the Gospel, you’ll find Jesus speaking about being radically generous. But why did Jesus talk about this topic so often? What are we missing when it comes to being generous in our society today?
Since the beginning of the human story, we were confronted with a lie of doing what’s best for you (Genesis 3:1-7). Adam and Eve were tempted to break God’s way and fell to selfishness and covetousness. Today, we are attacked daily with that same message. Think for yourself, do what’s best for you… The reality is, America is filled with selfish people failing to look for ways to be truly generous. At times, it may not be a generosity problem but that we fail to understand the real saving grace we have received in Jesus. He doesn’t just want us to follow Him out of the tomb but also in shifting our minds to Heaven.
One of the first steps to shifting your focus to generosity is to talk about it. Matthew 6:4 says, "That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” There is a blessing to being generous to glorify God. However, Matthew 5:16 also says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” In other words, if your generosity is about self-serving or self-pleasing to pad your religious stats, then keep it to yourself because you’re missing the purpose. Yet, it also says let your light shine that our good works will be seen… Our spirit of generosity should be all about glorifying our Father in Heaven.
Often when we think of generosity today, we assume financial influence. In Matthew 19:21, a rich man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus tests him by his aspect of the Mosaic Law. This rich man looks good, but there was something holding him back, generosity. Jesus found this was a clear obstacle in this man's discipleship to truly follow Jesus. Jesus isn’t saying that you have to sell all you have to follow Him, but He is showing us that nothing should hold us back from following Jesus.
Generosity extends beyond our finances. Generosity is creating an attitude of making ourselves ready to give God glory through our lives. That may be through giving, serving, loving, or sacrificing to allow God to get glory through you. I remember when my parents taught me the principle of generosity. It all started with my tithe as they were teaching me the importance of giving 10% to the Lord. They taught me that being generous was outside my command of tithing. I needed to look for ways to be financially generous. But as they taught me about finances, they instilled in me the importance of being generous with my time. I can remember being a young junior high student helping the elderly in our church, shoveling snow before a service, or working in a ministry with my parents. Their efforts to help me live generously went beyond their comforts, but it helped a prideful kid learn the importance of living a life looking for ways to be generous to those around.
So what are we missing in regards to being more generous? It’s an acknowledgment that it’s a lifestyle - not simply giving stuff away - but giving God glory. Happiness doesn’t come from what we accumulate but from where we direct our focus.