“WISDOM OF LIVING (53) GENEROSITY”           By Pastor YAU

Text: 1Timothy 6:17-19                                               August 26, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A true story: Gordon Wu, a native of Hong Kong, graduated from Princeton University as a B-average student in Engineering in late 1960s. He returned to Hong Kong to start his engineering and construction business and made some fortune. He began to give some of his money to his Alma Mata. He donated enough money to build man’s dormitories. One of them was named “Gordon Hall” in his honor. As a freshman to that college in 1988, our son Franklin lived in that dorm with other first year friends. At the turn of the millennium, Mr. Wu gave the largest one-time donation Princeton has ever received from a single donor: $100M. From the article in the school’s news letter, Mr. Wu said that is the money he felt best spent in his life. I think that is an act of radical generosity.

2)    An important advice:  In the Scripture reference today, Paul, the Apostle, advised Timothy to encourage the wealthy in his church to display radical generosity. Timothy was the pastor of the church in Ephesus, a prosperous city, with many wealthy members. Some of these wealthy people didn’t understand their responsibility to God, to His Kingdom and to others with their wealth. Paul challenged Timothy to remind the rich that having great wealth carries responsibility to God, to His church and to others

 

GENEROSITY: A GREAT VIRTUE:

1)   We have the best example: The best example of all generosity is our God. God was so generous to provide human needs with all of his creation. He was so generous to give us his only son, Jesus, to redeem us from our sins. He is also generous in supplying our daily needs through our health, work and opportunities. God is also generous in giving us family, friends and church. God is also very generous in preparing our heavenly homes to welcome us back when our earthly journey is done.  No one is more generous than our God. Without God’s nature of radical generosity, no man could ever come close to the presence of God.

2)   We have universal acclaim: Even though many people are not as generous as they should be people around the world believe that generosity is a great nature. No one likes stingy people, including those who are stingy. Books were written, stories were told, movies were made and acts of generosity were reported through the media to praise acts of generosity, especially radical ones. Most of the acts of radical generosity were done not for publicity or fame. But stories of generosity are always attractive headlines.

3)   We have good hearts: With few exceptions, most people have good hearts that prompt good acts, acts of generosity. We read stories after stories people who gave very generously to school, colleges, hospitals, the needy and other worthy courses. When we see from news reports some strangers risking their own lives to rescue three small children from a car that was being swapped away by flood waters, we know that is the best demonstration of good heart. Countless unsung heroes of generous giving gave possession, time, love and even their own lives like the Korean missionaries to Afghanistan. God has created human hearts in His image of love and generosity. When we see acts of generosity, we know them.

4)   We have real needs: Acts of generosity usually are response to real needs. With the unbalanced nature of wealth distribution and the suffering of many due to the situation, acts of generosity are meant to meet real needs. Some of the acts of generosity are done by men and women who have much. Other acts of generosity by those who have little but are generous to meet small needs. There are many acts of generosity done by businesses, organizations and nations to meet desperate needs. The rush to give blood at 9/11 tragedy was a show of generosity to meet needs. Today, August 7, the need is to get to the 6 miners trapped in a Utah coal mine. Some 130 plus men are working around the clock to save those 6 lives. Three  of the rescuers died in the process on August 15.

 

WEALTH: WHAT DOES GOD SAY? (1Timothy 6:17-19)

1)    The source of wealth: “God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”(6:17b)This is the fundamental reason for acts of generosity: all riches are provided by God. This is also the most difficult lesson for rich people to accept. The Bible says all riches we may have are provided or given by God. If God doesn’t provide us good health, intelligence to learn and know, opportunity to work and earn, we won’t have anything. To acknowledge God as the source of our wealth is the foundational principle for acts of generosity. All that we may have are from God and of God. To share God’s wealth with others is part of our responsibilities. We are not the real owners of all riches after all.

2)    The nature of wealth: “For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” (6:7) Wealth anyone may make are for the use in this world. No one can bring any of his wealth with him when he finishes his journey of life in this world. We are to use them wisely and profitably to benefit all people, not just ourselves. Accumulating wealth is useless because you can’t use them after you die.

3)    The uncertainty of wealth: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is uncertain, but to put their hope in God.” (6:17)The uncertainty of wealth is an eternal truth. People say “Money has wings” is true. They may fly to you today and fly away tonight. To become arrogant because of riches is foolish. To build hope or security in wealth is even worse. Do not find security on wealth because they may be gone tomorrow.

4)    Good work with wealth: “Command them to do good work and to be rich in good deeds.” (6:18a)We all know that money can do good as well as evil. Some may use money to bribe. Others may use money to indulge in reckless and harmful life style. Still some may use money to suppress justice and others may use money to generate pride. There are many wrong ways people use wealth to achieve evil goals. God is not against wealth but He is against using wealth for evil purposes. He wants to see us be rich in good deeds not just be rich with wealth.

5)    Sharing of wealth: “Be generous and willing to share.” (6:18b)We were taught to share when we were in kindergarten. Sharing is a great virtue in all cultures at all times. Being generous and willing to share with others what we have is the key to equality and peace. It is also one of the best signs to demonstrate love. We are not just to look after our own interests (needs) but also the interests (needs) of others. (Phil. 2:4) Sharing our material possessions to meet the needs of others is not only fair and just, it is also God honoring.

6)    Eternal life and wealth: “In this way, they may lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (6:19)This doesn’t mean that the rich may buy their place in heaven. But it means they will be truly rich in heaven if they are willing to share their wealth with others on earth. Their rich life on earth is not the real life. The life they have in heaven is real life.

 

WAYS OF GENEROSITY: The sky is the limit.

1)   It all starts in the heart: Generous acts come from a generous heart. A generous heart is the control center for all acts of generosity. A man needs to have the desire from his heart to be generous, to share, to give and be willing to act, that he will fulfill his heart’s desire by actions. Cultivate a generous heart is the first step to acts of generosity. This has to do with conquering the selfish nature of man and the indifference in his attitude to others.

2)   Then it is the generous eyes: This means one has to see the needs of people or places where his generosity may be demonstrated. All of us are incline to see the needs of ourselves and to meet our own needs. That’s why many people are very generous to themselves. True generosity requires us to see beyond ourselves. We need to see the wider range of people, community, entities and the bigger picture of life. If you are willing to see, you will find people and things worthy of your support, your give and sharing.

3)   It takes your generous hands: Transferring the desire of a generous heart into generous actions must take place with the willing hands. This means you must DO what your heart tells you to do. Some people have good hearts to feel and good eyes to see but have bad or unable hands to act them out. It is good to feel and to see the needs. But what good is it if there is no action by the hands. The hands are agent of the giving, sharing and doing. Go and give what your heart tells you to give. Do what your eyes see you need to do.

4)   It ends at your resources: All acts of generosity involve giving and giving always involves resources: your time, your talents and the big part of it, your wealth, money. Unless you are willing to give away your resources, acts of generosity won’t be complete. You need to be willing to go and help, willing to write a check, take time to do things that help the life of others. In all the giving, give generous to God through His church. Give tithes of your income. I find it hard to hear people pray at “Tithes and Offering” time that “We bring you (God) our little gifts.” God asks for a tithe, 10 percents of what you make, not a “little gift”. If you are generous with God, He will be generous with you and will pour out His blessing on you until you have no room to store. (Malachi 3:10) This is the secret to really get rich in this life and the life to come.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   It is a matter of attitude:  Most people love to receive than to give. But God says it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35) Let us be generous when it comes to giving and sharing. Be generous to give and God will be generous to give you back.

2)   Be creative and generous:  If you have a heart, you will find a way. This principle applies well in giving. Overcome the hindrances that may stop you from giving generously. Open your heart, your eyes, your hands and your checkbook or purse so others may share some of your resources. God will replenish your cup until it is overflow with His blessing.

3)   Open your heart: I am talking about your spiritual heart. You need to open your heart to God and allow Him to enter your life and be your Lord and Savior. He will make you a blessing to others as He will pour His blessings on you beyond measure.