This past week has been historic for VOUS Church. Last Sunday we received for the first time ever our “Vision Offering.” I’ve been blown away by the generosity of our church.
In my opinion, one of the greatest words in the whole world is “generosity.” These days it seems like the word gets thrown around quite frequently. Have you ever considered what it actually means? The idea of generosity is to “give more than what is required.” What a wild idea! Why would anyone ever dare to give more than what is necessary?
1. Generosity Resembles the Heart of God
When we give more than what is required, we are tapping into the nature of our God. Our God doesn’t just give us enough; he gives us more than enough. Consider the most famous verse in the Bible:
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son” John 3:16
Notice that generosity is the foundation of our salvation. Because God loved us, he gave to us. Victor Hugo, the famous French writer said, “You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.” When you love something you give towards it.
God is into giving because God is love
The apostle Paul challenged the church in Ephesus to not live according to his or her own standards, but according to the standard of God. His challenge for them is a great challenge for us.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.Ephesians 5:1-3
Another word for imitate is “copy.” We are to copy the behavior of God. One of the most practical ways for us to do this is by being generous. Every time we give, we look a little bit more like our Heavenly Father. Whenever we are generous, we bring a piece of heaven down to earth.
2. Generosity is the Reasonable Response to the Gospel
When we discover the true gospel that Jesus came and took everything that we deserve so that we could get everything He deserved, it leaves us with this overwhelming sense of gratitude. The number one emotion of all Christians should be “thankfulness.” We understand that everything we have is a gift. If it really is a gift, then we are not entitled to it. We don’t “have” to give; we “get” to give.
Because of Jesus, we have received so much, which means we have so much to give. Salvation is a free gift. It was an act of generosity. It’s impossible to experience it and not desire to share it.
I love the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19. Here’s a man who was a corrupt tax collector, who was stealing money from his own people. One day Jesus comes passing by and sees Zacchaeus in a sycamore tree. That day Jesus called him out and went to his house for a meal. By the end of the encounter, Zacchaeus had become a follower of Christ. Notice the first thing he does.
Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!’Luke 19:8
After Zaccheus encounters the gospel, his response was to give. He didn’t start crunching numbers or debating percentages. In fact he gives way beyond the tithe (10 percent). He gives 50 percent of all that he has to the poor. You would think that would be enough, but generosity gives above and beyond. He decided to give 4 times the amount back to anyone he had ever stolen from. That’s some pretty amazing interest. You see, no one told him to pay back those that he cheated and no one told him to give away half of his estate, yet the gospel goes deeper than the letter of the law. When we encounter grace, our heart is transformed.
Jesus has filled us up, in order to spill us out. We are blessed in order to be a blessing. We need to live in a way that God can use our lives to bless others. As we bless others, we can’t help but be blessed ourselves.
3. Generosity Rescues Us From Small Living
The opposite of being a generous person, is being a greedy person. Greed is completely selfish. It’s only focused on oneself.
It was Jesus who said, “You can’t serve God and money.” Humanities knee-jerk reaction is to keep and hoard. Our first thought is to look after ourselves. At the heart of it is that we are greedy. We always want more and feel like we never have enough.
However, the only way to break the back of greed is through generosity. As we choose to live our life with an open hand as opposed to a closed fist it leads to so much more. King Solomon who is arguably the wisest and wealthiest man that ever lived said this about generosity:
Generosity is a key that unlocks the door into a much bigger world. My prayer is to live in a community where people view generosity as a privilege. Yet, the only way for this to be true is when this goes from being an ideal to being an action. We can’t just say these things, we actually have to do them.
At VOUS Church we believe it’s not about equal amounts but it is about equal sacrifice. Last Sunday, we received our biggest offering we have ever had in order to accelerate the vision! We thought it was important that before any additional money was received, that as a church we should be generous towards the great organizations in our city. At VOUS we are committed to our community.
The reason why we did this as a church is because we want to resemble the heart of God. It’s our reasonable response to the gospel and we refuse to live in a small world. Generosity is the path for God to do more in our lives. As followers of Jesus the reasons to give are everywhere. As we continue to step out in faith and sacrifice, there is no telling what God will do. Instead of asking, “why should I be generous?” Start asking, “How can I be generous?” I look forward to seeing you this Sunday. If you haven’t already given towards the “Vision Offering,” there’s still time. The best is truly yet to come for those who live generous.