Everybody gives, but not everybody is generous.In 45 days, however,everybody is going to be a giver because it is Christmas.
But simply giving doesn’t make you generous.
I have learned a lot about being generous from Andy Stanley’s teaching, and his books Fields of Gold and How to Be Rich. I have put into my life practices, principles,and truth that I want to share.
Generosity is not natural.
Generosity is more than random acts of giving. Everybody gives, but not everybody is generous. When someone says we don’t give or we aren’t generous, we tend to think protectively and think of the one time.
But generosity is more than random acts of giving. Most of our giving is at the end of a sales pitch. But generosity transcends inspiration and guilt. Generous people have learned to move beyond that.
We know that generosity is not natural because we have to teach our kids to share. Even as adults we struggle with this. There is still a resistance when we are asked to give away what is ours or what we have worked for.
Now, you might think we are generous, but that is actually a culturally shaped thought.
Most Americans spend more than they make. We don’t FEEL rich, but we are. We FEEL generous, but we aren’t.
It Acts 20, the Apostle Paul is saying farewell to his friends. He talks about the generous life that he lived before them. He is challenging them to live a generous life. He says something that is very familiar to them. They understood what it meant where we really don’t.
“ …remembering the words the Lord Jesus said:‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 NIV)
This statement is not referring to a moment in time, but a lifestyle of generous giving.
Happy is the person whose life is ordered around giving rather than receiving. Everybody gives something somewhere, but few people are truly generous.
We tend to believe the generosity myths:
•Generosity is spontaneous. Generosity actually is less spontaneous and emotional. It is strategic. Less spontaneous.
•Generous is determined by cash flow. Generous people actually are consistent. When you say, “I give whenever I can afford it”, you are not a generous person.
•It is the amount that counts. No one knows if a gift is generous expect the person who gave it. This is one of the ways we fool ourselves in thinking we are generous. The only way to know if it is a generous gift is to know all about their finances and we don’t. Generosity is in large degree determined by what you have left. Everyone can be generous. Everyone can make a generous donation
•Rich people are generous. We tend to think, “When I become rich I will be generous.” But the truth is, rich people are rich and generous people are generous. Young people, let me assure you,if you are not generous now, you won’t be generous if you become rich when you are older.
There is no correlation between how much money you have and how generous you are.
Paul also talks about contentment. He says, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy6:7
Essentially, he is saying, “Since it’s all going to be taken away, why would you miss the opportunity to give it away?”
Generous people don’t assume it’s theirs to consume. If it can be taken away, you never really owned it anyway. If you can’t ultimately control where it goes, you are managing it and don’t own it. So, Paul tells his protégé Timothy the things he must teach and insist upon. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy6:17-19 NIV
What are the keys to ensure generosity?
Design a Plan
Here is what I believe. If you don’t have a plan I promise you are not as generous as you think you are.
Solomon said, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance and advantage. But everyone who acts in hast comes surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5
Ben Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
People who don’t have a plan are 3S givers: Spontaneous, Sporadic, and Sparing.They are the“I wish I could do more” people. But generous people know their plan. It is Give, Save, Spend.
Decide a Specific Percentage
You need to know ahead of time what you are going to give. Generous people think before they spend it. They think percentages. The key to generosity is to re-ordering your finances so you can gradually increase your giving.
Once again, Paul said, “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.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
I want to encourage you to be a 3P giver: Priority, Percentage, and Progressive (increase over time).
Designate a Place to Give
Generous people don’t feel guilty when they need to say no because they have already decided what they can do.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
You know it is true. Where ever you are giving your money, apart of your heart is there. It also means if you would like to change where your heart is, then change the direction of your money.
So, wise people pre-determine where they are going to give. Then when people come after them for money, they can feel good about saying no. Because you are generous you can do random acts of giving.
What makes you generous is that you have designed a plan, determined a percentage, and designated a place. Generosity is how you say yes to what is important to you.
So how should you choose the designated place? Ask yourself some questions:
What are you grateful for? What are you broken over? What has eternal value? When I interview generous givers and ask them, “How does that make you feel?” Every single time, generous givers are overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction, knowing that because they were generous, lives have been changed forever.
You and I may never have an opportunity like that to sit across from someone and hear them say, “Thank you for giving” but all of us can have the satisfaction of knowing that we are investing in something that is bigger than we are. You can invest in something that is more significant than you could ever imagine, and will outlast you.You may never know, this side of eternity, how your generosity has forever changed the trajectory of someone else’s life. But you can have the confidence and the assurance of knowing that you are making a difference because you’ve said “yes” to the challenge to give generously.
I know this about you because it’s true about me--it’s true about all of us:
You WANT to make a difference.
You want your life to matter.
You want to leave a legacy of generosity that outlasts you.
Often, we just don’t know how to do it. But right now, God is giving us a tremendous opportunity through our I’M IN campaign. We believe God is calling us to raise $12 million to be able to lead more and more people to realize and reach their full potential in Jesus Christ. We have a plan to be able to do that - our plan includes you and me.
Are you ALL IN? I pray that you are. I invite you to be.For more information, visit newpointe.org/imin.