Generous - Week One: Scarcity and Abundance



Today we're going to launch a brand new sermon series for the month of September---a series entitled: Generous--The Beauty in Giving.  

There’s a good reason why so many people are jaded and suspicious when preachers talk about money.  But did you know that Jesus talked about money more than any other subject other than the kingdom of God?  Jesus knew that if his followers didn’t learn to live generously, materialism could very well choke the life out of their faith. Generosity in its purest, simplest, most loving form is a beautiful thing.  

This sermon series will explore how the beauty of Generosity can change your life, and maybe even your world.  


Let me make a bold statement:  

Living Generously can change your life and maybe even the world.  

You might be thinking to yourself, "Preacher, that's not a bold statement!  That's stating the obvious!"  Okay, fair enough.  So why is it so hard for us to figure this out?  Why do we still struggle between living in abundance or scarcity?

Especially when the evidence of how living generously is such a transformative act is so clear and compelling.  

For example, there have been multiple studies conducted on the effects of generosity on physical, mental, and emotional health.  

Generosity leads to less isolation, less self-criticism, less self-centeredness, more confidence, and a sense of purpose.  

Generous people also live longer and happier lives.  

And if that wasn't reason enough, let me put it to you like this: We were created to be generous, to live generously.  We were created generous because the One who created all things and created us in the Divine image, is generous beyond measure.  

We learn to be stingy.  

But even the stingiest among us loves hearing a good generosity story.  And I've got a good one today.  It's a quick video from the website I Like Giving, and this video is entitled, "I Like Teachers."  

Don't you just love that video?  Isn't it sweet?  I am not ashamed to say I wept when I  first saw it.  Straight up wept.  Because this video shows the transformative power of living generously if we are willing to embrace that way of life.  

What does it take to live this way all of the time?  What does it take to get to a place where we choose abundance over scarcity?  Well, we're going to find all of this out when we step into our Scripture today: 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, with a focus today only on verse 6. 

The Apostle Paul is teaching a group of early Christians what it means to respond in gratitude toward what God has done for you in all aspects of your life.  And today I want you to hold on to this one very important thing: 

LIVING IN LACK IS NOT TRULY LIVING

Here's our text for today: 
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Let me give you just a bit of background on this verse and the context.  The church at Corinth was a diverse group of people from all walks of life, including slaves, freedmen, Gentiles, Jews, rich people, middle class and poor people, men, women... you name it.  

It was a cosmopolitan city, thoroughly influenced by its allegiance to the Empire and the nationalistic, and also the pagan culture that marked so much of the Roman world. 

There was a famine in Jerusalem around the time of this writing, and Paul had been working tirelessly to leverage his connections in the churches he'd planted for the purpose of raising an offering for the church at Jerusalem.  

But despite the agenda (and he's not shy about it), Paul offers up some serious truth about how living generously, choosing abundance over scarcity, and trusting God with our future is an act of serious discipleship.  

The fact that his teaching was completely in line with the teachings of Jesus, and coming from the same place theologically, socially, emotionally, etc., is not something that can be glossed over here.  

Okay, let's dig into the text for a bit. I  want to focus on this verse today: 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 

I don't often bust out the Greek study stuff on Sunday, but this one is worth it.  When Paul says "Whoever sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly." the word that he is using is pheidomenos which means essentially this:  holding back to have enough; tightfisted.

Think about this using the metaphor that Jesus used here... When someone is sowing seed, a tight-fisted approach might save some seed but ultimately it will reduce the chance for a better harvest.  

By contrast, Paul also says, "Whoever sows generously will also reap generously." He is using the word eulgiais here, which as you can see is kin to the word eulogize, which has to do with speaking generously about someone who has died. 

This word however speaks to a heart's desire to bless others--to live open-handed.  To stick with the metaphor---this is someone who isn't worried about hanging on to seed, and spreads it generously so there's a good harvest. 

There's a sense of community embedded in this metaphor.  Do you open up your hands to let go of the seed so there is more at the harvest to share?  Or do you withhold, thinking only of whether you'll have enough?  

When we live in a community, we have the chance to be a blessing through our generosity.  And that can only happen when we live openhanded--embracing a life lived in abundance and not scarcity.  

When you live openhanded, you are free then to give (and receive) in ways you can't with a tightly closed fist.  

So how do we break this down in such a way where it makes sense to us in our everyday life? 

Living In Scarcity 

Jesus' words to the Rich Young Ruler--a challenge to live in abundance that he couldn't meet. 

What areas of our lives are we living in Scarcity?  Time? Talent? Treasure? How is this affecting us, and shaping our worldview?  

I struggle with this so much, and for so many different reasons.  

Living in Abundance 

Mary anointing Jesus' feet---pouring out her future. 

How willing are we to trust our future to God?  

LIVING IN LACK IS NOT TRULY LIVING

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