(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
What makes generosity so hard?
Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
So what this so hard for the ruler? What makes generosity is hard?
Here’s some of my reflections. Perhaps you have others…please share them!
- Being generous means I have to fear, love and trust in God above ALL things!
Generosity entails having a heart that holds on loosely to the things of this world and holds on tightly to the things of God. Generosity means trusting that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” It means I trust that God is a God of abundance who is always willing to give. Generosity can only happen when my heart is engaged with the Lord and disengaged with stuff.
- Being generous is hard because it is always a battle with my selfish, sinful nature.
Children are naturally selfish. They want mom for themselves. They want food for themselves. They want toys for themselves. It’s the reality of our sinful nature that we inherit from our parents. Our natural inclination is to be selfish, not generous. With the Spirit’s help we can win this battle, but no one said it would be easy.
- Being generous is hard because money can become our security.
Ever stop and reflect why it is hard for you to be generous? Let me encourage you to do that. Perhaps it’s the reality that money and stuff are security and safety. If I give away too much I may not have enough for myself. It’s easy to give from our leftovers or things we don’t want. It’s these things that we give to the thrift store or junk for Jesus. It’s harder to be generous with things we are using or money we planned to use on our own needs and desires. It makes us nervous because money can easily become our security.
- Being generous is hard because we struggle with contentment.
The Apostle Paul said, Philippians 4:11 … I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Contentment is a learned expression of faith. In a country of plenty, we are bombarded with marketing to make us discontent with what we have and desire the new product that is being sold. Contentment is a status of stuff, it is a state of mind.
- Finally generosity is hard because we don’t manage our money well…or know how.
Perhaps one is so steeped in debt, living paycheck to paycheck with no margin, or just unaware of how to live on less than one earns. Practically we can spend much faster and easier than we earn. Often you can’t out earn your spending habits. Sometimes we just need help being better managers of what we do have. A great program is Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” to financial freedom and the ability to give generously.
Generosity is a spiritual habit, but sometimes we just need to learn some practical skills as well.
The struggle is real to be generous. But remember what the Apostle Paul said just after remarking about learning to be content:
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”
Apply: Do you need help planning the use of your money? Look up Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Enroll online or find an in person location to help free your heart and your finances to be more generous!
Prayer: Lord, you promised that I can do all things with your strength. Give me your strength to overcome my love of money, to learn true contentment and practice regular generosity. AMEN.