Dear Family in Jesus,
Let us seek to flourish and thrive in the grace of being magnanimously generous in our giving. Because of Godâ€™s grace to us, let us more eagerly desire to honor and glorify God in Christ by â€œcrowningâ€ our King in the extension and advancement of His Kingdom, to the ends of the earth!
A TALE OF TWO STEWARDS
Once upon a time there was a young man named Mr. Consumer and he was known to all as a taker who wanted instant gratification. He desired everything now. He was constantly tempted to buy, and buy, and buy, and buy. His kinder neighbors knew that this, too, was their temptation, but Mr. Consumer would not resist this terrible desire for more buying. When Mr. Consumer was asked by others why he would often buy, buy, buy, he would say that he had come to believe that peace and joy and satisfaction could be purchased through these means (but this was a lie).
In the same town, there also lived a young man named Mr. Producer. He was always seeking to give and to be a steward-manager of all his resources. Though Mr. Producer was often greatly tempted to buy, buy, buy, he was not taken by the temptation to instant gratification, but rather enjoyed the peace and trust of delayed gratification. Mr. Producer ultimately sought to live for Jesus Christ who had loved him and given Himself for him, to produce more gospel resources for the extension of Christâ€™s Kingdom. He desired Christ to be crowned as King through His giving and generosity. Mr. Producer desired to give and bless others because he believed there were greater eternal rewards awaiting those who might show magnanimous generosity (and this was the truth).
One day, Mr. Consumer met Mr. Producer, and was convinced by Godâ€™s grace, that the life Mr. Producer lived was the true life of joy, peace and satisfaction. Mr. Consumer realized that while he lived for self, Mr. Producer lived for Christ and others, and gave glory to God! Mr. Consumer repented of his terrible sin against God, found mercy and grace in Christ, and both he and Mr. Producer from that day forth walked hand in hand in the fear of the LORD, helping one another, exhorting one another, encouraging one another, to live for the glory of God.
The truth is, Beloved of Jesus, most of our lives we can see a bit of both Mr. Consumer and Mr. Producer in ourselves, but we are called by Godâ€™s grace to be Mr. Producers. Wisdom has shown us that oftentimes the Christian who is more of a consumer in the marketplace, is also more of a consumer in the church than a producer-giver. In other words, this sin can make us grace-takers rather than grace-givers. Only Christ through His grace can redeem Mr. Consumer and transform him into Mr. Producer, a recipient of Christâ€™s rich benefits, full of thanksgiving! Let us cry out with the Psalmist:
Psalm 103: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Forget not all His benefits!
â€¦Yet how easily we forget Godâ€™s mercies to us in Jesusâ€”so make a point of remembering!
In this year alone, God has blessed KCPC in many ways! How many benefits? Think of five specific benefits to you, our congregation, and your family. Stop. Do it right now. Think about it. I encourage you to make a list of what God has done in your life and is doing presently! Be thankful; be grateful!! The point in this exercise is to stir you up to love and good works! (Heb. 10:24-25).
Behold the riches of God in Christ Jesusâ€”all that Christ has is yours!
You are a recipient of every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus!
ESV Ephesians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly placesâ€¦
Â Â Â Â Beloved in Jesus: Remember that because of Godâ€™s love to you in Christ, to give faithfully in your tithes and offerings. Give yourself back to Jesus who has given Himself for you (Rom. 12:1). Your tithes and offerings are tangible and concrete displays of the giving of yourself back to God in response to His Gospel promises to you in Christ. You are Godâ€™s precious treasure and possession; give yourself fully back to Him (Romans 5:6-11). If you have been redeemed you are not your own. Say it: â€œI am not my own; I belong to the Lord Jesus Christâ€ (Rev. 1:5-7).
In your giving, always REMEMBER THE GOSPEL, and to meditate on Godâ€™s goodness to you and your family in the Gospel- -DAILY.
CHRIST HAS MADE US RICH!
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
We were impoverished, poor and naked before God (Rev. 3:17), without any righteousness to offer him, and nothing but a weight of guilt, sin and debt to God. Christ put aside all of his glorious riches to make us abundantly rich and gloriously clothed in Him.
CHRIST HAS GIVEN US HIS MIND
Remember our ONE-ness in the Gospel (Othersâ€™ interests should be more important than our interests)! We are united to one another in one body by Christâ€™s Spirit:
ESV Philippians 2:2-4: â€¦Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Let us give to each other because we are one body in Jesus at KCPC. May there never be needs in our congregation that we are aware of, that we do not seek as a congregation to provide together. There should never be anyone in our midst with known needs that are not met. If we cannot be generous to our brothers who we are united with and serve with together, how can we ever serve our enemies and the world as we are called to do?!
“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
CHRIST HAS GIVEN US FAITH AND WORKS IN OUR UNION WITH HIM
Remember Your Faith and Your Love being demonstrated in your works
ESV James 2:14-18: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Remember to prove your love to Christ and one another; this is biblical. You say you love God, show it! Jesus said: â€œIf you love me, keep my commandments.â€
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuineâ€¦.ESV 2 Corinthians 8:24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.
EXCEL in the grace of giving generously!
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you- see that you excel in this act of grace also.
Let us show our love for God, our love for one another, and the abundant grace of joy and thanksgiving we have by giving tangibly to needs.Â Continue to be faithful to tithing, giving and generosity in general.
ESV 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Do you believe that you can be MAGNANIMOUSLY GENEROUS and that Jesus can be your ultimate portion and possession and treasure- -and that you can be a greater giver? In Christ, we have all we need. He is full of the grace of generosity and givingâ€”this, too, is our inheritance in union with Him!
Do you believe this? Jesus asks us:
â€œDidnâ€™t I say that you would see the **GLORY** of God if you just believed?â€- John 11:40
Yet we have our pet excuses why we cannot give and be generous in our own estimation. Here are some:
â€œObjectionsâ€ as to why you cannot or do not (will not!?) give!
You say: â€œBut Iâ€™m really already stretched financially!â€
If youâ€™re â€œstretchedâ€, God knows it and will provide for you (Psalm 37:23-26); you can never out-give God! He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides! Your giving is an act of faith, and this same grace will be returned to you. In fact, it is through sacrificial giving that you learn more about how to be content in whatever situation and to have Christ strengthen you (look at the larger context of Philippians 4:10-23). The Apostle Paul teaches that we can do â€œall thingsâ€ in Christ who strengthens us, and that means all things whether we living in abundance or need. God promises this:
ESV Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:14-15: â€¦Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
You say: â€œBut I tithe, isnâ€™t that enough?!â€
Thanks be to God for your tithing; that is a great start! But let us learn that the tithe was to show our utter dependence upon God for all things; that all that we have or will ever possess comes from God (1 Cor. 4:7), and that we are to learn not merely to give a tithe (10%) but learn to be willing to give all of ourselves and our possessions and belongings (nothing we should hold on too tightly! Luke 14:26ff). In other words, giving is for us to avoid idolatry and weighing ourselves down on our pilgrimage by prosperity. Giving is to give back to God as steward-managers of God, recognizing the danger of having too much stored away that might tempt us to lean on our savings plan rather on the God who has saved us!
You say: â€œBut, I am in so much debt.â€
Most of our lives we have some sort of debt.Â God knows this. We can prayerfully and wisely seek to be debt free, but often the cause of our debt is because we are more consumers by nature than producers.
Remember Proverbs 11:24-25: One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
Let us pray and seek to pay our debts faithfully to the glory of God (Psalm 37:21-22), but let us put God first in our priorities, and seek to produce more for His kingdom, and trust Him to pay off the debt. If you have tremendous debts, ask God to search your heart, Psalm 139:23-24-style, and if there is anything greed, consumerism, selfishness to be repented of, then by all means, get to it now and find mercy and grace in Christ (Heb. 4:16). Ask God to be your Help in whatever sinful place you find yourself. No one who cries out to Jesus Christ in true repentance and faith will be without a Faithful Helper!
You say: â€œBut, I can give so little.â€
Give your â€œwidowâ€™s miteâ€; give your few fish and single loaf of bread; give what you can and watch and pray that Jesus in His grace might multiply what you give. Perhaps your small gift will be received, seen, etc. and someone with much more would give because they saw you give little of what you have!? If there is readiness to give, it is from God and acceptable:
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
Let us show our love for God in our giving and generosity. Remember, He will do above and beyond what we can ever ask or imagine by the power of His Spirit (Eph. 3:20-21). Bless the LORD, Mr. Producer redeemed by the blood of Christ, recipient of His benefits! Bless His Holy Name! Let me encourage you to excel in the grace of giving and generosity today, especially as we prayerfully consider the OPC THANK OFFERING to be received in the next couple of weeks, and as you think about how you would like to increase your giving and seek to be more generous toward God in the new year!
Â In Christâ€™s love,