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About this series
Being generous isn't something that comes naturally to most people but research confirms that truly generous people are happier, have a stronger immune system, and have more positive, life-giving relationships. Who wouldn't sign up for all that - right? In this series, Chip helps us understand the journey and the roadmap for getting there.More from this series
I want to share with you how you can actually become extraordinarily kind and extraordinarily generous.
In fact, on the front of your notes, I have actually decided I am going to make it my manifesto. It doesn’t have to be yours, but this is mine. This is before God, and so I am going public with this. You’ll notice what a manifesto is. It is a published, verbal declaration of intentions of your motives or your views on an issue. So, it’s public, right? I published it.
And the real thing here is that, notice, it says, “To promote a new idea with a prescribed notion for carrying out the changes.” And I am going to share with you a new idea for me and the prescribed changes for my life and I just have this sneaking feeling that a lot of you are going to want to take the next step in generosity as well.
Are you ready for it? Here’s my manifesto. “I want to be known in heaven and on earth as an extraordinarily kind and generous person.” So, I want – I know this happens because God says, Have you considered My servant, Job? I’m thinking that He does that with you and some other people. I want Him to say, before I die, Have you considered My servant, Chip? He’s extraordinarily kind and generous.
I want my wife to say, “My husband is extraordinarily kind and generous.” I want my kids to say that. I want my neighbors to say that, I want the people who know me best to say that.
I have been on a giving journey. In fact, this little green card I wrote down as I was learning about giving on the journey. And it’s 1998. I wrote this to myself and I just read it over. “I would like to be more generous this year with my money and my time.” And then in 2000, I rewrote it because I realized it wasn’t my money and it wasn’t my time. So I rewrote it and I said, “I would like to be more generous this year with the time that You have given me and with the money that You have entrusted to me.” And so, I just kept reading that over and this says, “2001 – that was our most generous year ever. It was wonderful and fun.” And then I listed people that we gave some things to that was just awesome.
So, would you like to go on the journey? This is a journey that will radically change your heart, but, wow. There will be people’s lives that forever and ever and ever and now will be completely different because you go and take the next step on the generosity journey. So, open your notes and as you open them there, you’ll notice it says, “You can become an extraordinarily kind and generous person.” I want you to just underline you, because you’re going to be tempted, some of you, to think, maybe this Chip guy has been at this for a while. No, no, no.
This is every, single person. You can become extraordinarily kind and generous. But you have to begin where you are at and take what I call baby steps on that journey.
To do that, I have a picture I want to share and there is a process I want you to follow and then I have a little practice that the Scripture teaches about how this all works.
The picture I want to share is this is Henry. Grows up in a nice home. Dad and one of his brothers: amazing athletes. Realizes he is not in that category but he had this knack. He’s an entrepreneur. So, he goes to college and wants to make a little money. And so, he decides he will sell t-shirts. But think t-shirts on fifteen or sixteen different campuses in America. And he gets college kids doing it.
So then he realized, I have a little knack for business. And then, Henry realizes, Maybe we should explore spiritual things. I grew up with good morals. And so, they go to a church and they go to a church a lot like this one. And they got shocked because the person actually opened the Bible and started talking about a relationship with God and it was personal and it was like, Whoa. I just thought you sort of checked the box. I go to church now and then.
Well, as that happened, Henry realized he didn’t have a relationship with God. He was just religious. And so, he turned from his sin and he received Christ, and then he started praying and then he started, little by little, ups and downs, read the Scriptures. And then he learned that God owns everything. Oh my gosh, for a business guy, that’s crazy!
So, in one of the ways you show that, he said, Okay. So, I was taught: give the first ten percent of your income to declare that God owns it. So, he said, “Okay.” So, he did that. And then he started getting around some people who said, “Well, it’s not like a bill you pay. It’s just, it’s your heart that He wants.” And so, he started giving a little bit more and being proportional and got excited about: we got to help this group and this group and that group and this person.
And so, then he starts this little business and he decides, “I’m going to do it completely different than I have ever done. We are going to do it by kingdom principles. I am going to be generous to my employees.” It’s an amazing story and God just went, Pfff! And then he thought, That’s just one business. What if I could reproduce that?
And out of that business, he started a venture capital firm called Sovereign Capital. Get it? Sovereign? And he invests, not in Christian companies. He invests in Christians who are doing all kinds of companies, but they have to have a kingdom component that loves and cares and ministers and makes a difference in all kinds of people’s lives.
And so, I declared, Okay, I have been inspired by Henry’s story. I’ve been inspired by what I have seen. I have been on a generosity journey; I’m going to the next level.
And then I started studying and studying for this. And I saw something, this happens to you all, right? You have been studying the Bible, maybe some of you for years. At least, I have been at it for a while. And I had a – pff! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh, this idea of reproducing things and life, I have never seen this before.
So, are you ready? Get your notes out and get a pen. There’s a process to follow and what I saw was it’s all about seeds. You could actually look from the beginning of the Bible to the end. It’s about seeds and all of life is about sowing and reaping. In fact, your whole life, my whole life, even the life of Jesus – it’s about what you plant, what you cultivate, and then what you harvest.
So, I want you to think about, Okay, how has the sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, mighty God of the universe – what is His design? How has He created life to actually work? And the very first moment that we have any kind of life is in Genesis chapter 1.
Genesis 1, verses 11 and 12, this is the very first time God speaks – it’s life! “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Notice, “The land produced vegetation. Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants, and trees on the land that bear fruit with seeds in it according to their various kinds.’ And it was so.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but let’s pause for just a second. The God of the universe is speaking life into existence. The very first life is vegetation. Then He does the animals. Then He creates mankind. What is the deal with seeds? Have you ever seen this before? I didn’t. Did you notice that verse? Seed, seed, seed. Four or five times.
Here's what I want you to get: in all creation, everything living is created with a seed. And everything created has the capacity and it’s God’s intention that it would not just grow, but reproduce.
In other words, a seed goes into the ground and it gives new life. The Greek word for seed, are you ready for this one? Sperma. Can you figure that one out? Life. Sporos is the other word. So, what I want to do, this is nutty, but stay with me. I am going to try and take you from the beginning of the Bible, all the way to the end, and I just want to trace seeds and the impact.
Because, here’s the deal, when you see this, all of a sudden you’ll realize, Oh, generosity. I am going to be planting seeds, either good seed or bad seed. And the only kind of seeds that grow are the kind that die and go under the earth, and then they bear fruit and, oh! So, this is what life is all about. Are you ready?
What we learn in terms of creation, is all life is created and then there is a likeness that God wants. When He creates us, it was in His image. He wanted people like us to rule this little earth the way He rules the universe: with kindness and goodness and perfect harmony.
Well, then we learn seeds require a perfect environment. Things don’t grow. Seeds can be everywhere, but they only grow if there is the right environment. And so, chapter 2, what do we get? God says there is water, there is sunlight, there is His presence. It’s not quite right early, so we get man and woman. We have got community. And then there’s choice.
So, everything that is needed for a human being to grow, to flourish, and to multiply and be Christ-like and to be loving – it’s all there. And I want you to remember that. Seeds require the right environment in order to grow.
Third, the choice is paradise is lost. And many of you know the story. There is temptation, there is failure, there is judgment. But there is a promise. If you’re still in your Bible, look at verse 15 of chapter 3. So, there is failure. Sin enters the world, but notice what happens. The judgment is, I never saw this before, there will be a war, or the word is enmity, between the seed of the woman, which is mankind, and the seed of Satan.
So, all of a sudden, all of the Bible opens up and you realize the generations of mankind and the generations of evil and there is this conflict of kingdoms. And then, notice the promise: But He, this person, this Messiah that is going to come out of the seed of woman, is going to crush Satan. He does that in chapter 20 of Revelation, but His heel will be bruised. That happens when He died on the cross.
So, all I want you to get is: our choices determine our growth or our demise. Have you thought about that? Your choice, where do you spend your time? What do you watch? What do you do with your money? Our choices. Because all those things are seeds.
Now, we move on. The conflict begins, Genesis chapter 4, all the way through Revelation. And so, are you ready for this? The very first conflict happens. Someone comes to be generous, to give an offering. His name is Abel. His brother brings an offering, and for some reason, either his heart isn’t right or he is not bringing the right stuff. And God says to Abel, Great offering. It’s from the heart. I love generosity because I am generous. And He says to Cain, That is not, that’s not what I am looking for.
And then He sees in his heart and He goes, “Sin is crouching at your door,” don’t go there. But instead, he kills him. And then what you find is all the next chapters are Cain’s seed and violence and corruption versus good seed. And then you get to chapter 6 where God says, I am sad that I ever made mankind. There is violence and murder everywhere.
And so, He chooses and individual – Noah – are you ready for this? And the text says, “And Noah and his seed,” and so He takes a normal person and he is generous by building this ark and God delivers. And then, as soon as he is done, guess what he does the moment the water is done, he does an offering. Hmm. I’m seeing a pattern here.
Well, then, one of his sons goes, is bad seed and the other guys are going, and so you have all these things that go, go, go, go, pretty soon, now it’s corruption and evil. And do you realize murder and all this stuff has been happening forever? There is bad seed in the heart of man, apart from God.
And so, by chapter 12, here’s the next person. There’s this man named Abraham. So, “To Abraham and his seed, I will make a great nation and you will bless every nation on the earth.” By chapter 15, Abraham has done what you have to do, he has to leave. And then he goes, “Lord, I don’t have,” the word, literally, “I don’t have a seed. I have no heir.”
And God says, “In your seed, I will bless all the nations, just like the stars of the sky, and like the sand of the seashore.”
And then you see He asked him to make the ultimate offering. Are you seeing the pattern? Seed, good, bad, offering. So, he takes Isaac and is willing.
Well, then that, we go to Moses and the text says, are you ready for this? “The seed of Israel,” so, God takes a man. Now He takes a nation and He says, “I am going to make this nation and I am going to show this nation how life really works so they would be a light so people, everyone would see it.” Well, they don’t do so well.
But all those five books that Moses writes are about what kind offerings? Thank offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, built…
And they are told: bring the first produce. God is teaching them. They don’t do too well. Is this a pattern, like we struggle too? And then there’s David. And He says to David, right? Saul is the good looking guy who is proud, who gets involved in the occult. David is the little shepherd boy whose heart is in the right place. God exalts him.
Now, he has his struggles. But then He says, “Out of your seed, the Messiah is going to come.” And what is the last thing David does in his life? He takes all of his personal treasure and gives this huge gift to build a temple for worship. Are you seeing the pattern?
Then Jesus comes. And He fulfills all this prophecy. And Jesus is the seed of the woman. And He is fully God and fully man. And He comes to the earth. And what does He do? He demonstrates: what does good seed look like? We have got to turn this thing around. The whole world system is get, get, get, selfish, selfish, selfish. When I don’t get my way, I get angry, I get jealous, I kill! It’s the history of mankind.
So, Jesus intervenes, because He is going to deliver. Moses delivered. Nehemiah delivered. Abraham delivered. Now, Jesus is going to come and what, do you remember what He said about Himself? “Unless a grain,” seed, “of wheat fall unto the earth and die, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”
Look in your notes: 1 Corinthians chapter 15, I’m not going to read it. But guess what Christ is called: the first fruits of the resurrection.
He literally went into the earth like a seed, into the darkness for three days. And then He rose again and because He rose again, He defeated sin and Satan and death. And we receive it and guess what is the seed that comes into us: the living Holy Spirit of God in us believers so that we would become like the original plan – like our Father. And guess what, now we have the seeds of time, the seeds of talent, the seeds of money, and the seeds of opportunity.
And so Jesus teaches His followers – what? “The kingdom of God is like a seed,” right? Like a mustard seed. It starts small, but then it grows and supports others. The kingdom of God is like a seed that is planted and there’s the tares and there’s the wheat and they grow up together. And then He says the seed is the Word of God. And 1 Peter says that you are born again, not by the precious gold and silver, but by the imperishable Word of God – the seed of the Word of God.
And so, there’s this group and we are it. Believers all over the world who, the seed of God’s Word lives in, and the agenda is that it would grow. But here’s the deal. What did Jesus model? Only dead seeds grow. Until we die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, then it’s just us in our own energy.
And then when you get to the very end, isn’t it interesting? Jesus crushes Satan, He has a kingdom of people for Himself, and what does the new heaven and the new earth look like? What was the whole goal anyway? Sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping; sowing, reaping. Jesus sows His own body and His life, “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross,” and there’s a new heaven and there is a new earth.
And there is a throne. And this seems familiar, doesn’t it? Water of life coming out of the throne. And on either side, the tree of life. And the tree of life bears fruit each month. Did you ever think about that? To bear fruit, there are still seeds.
I have never seen any of that before. And then I began to see the teaching of Jesus. Then I began to see, Wait a second. All those parables, all that stuff about the law of the harvest, all that stuff about…oh my! He was really trying to teach us: God created life where there would be light and love and relationship. But it only happens when you plant good seed, and good seed that is cultivated in the right kind of environment – His Word, fellowship, the kind of people, opportunity.
And then He says there is this battle going on in your heart and my heart and the only way to break it, that generosity is the way to stop the greed in my heart and yours, and it’s how God begins to grow and cultivate transformation.
Now, let me show you the principles. We see a process of seeds to follow from Genesis to Revelation. Now, here’s a practice to start. You’re already sowing. Every day. You sow words, you sow life, you sow time, you sow money, you sow into relationships.
Now, what I want you to see: this is the absolute truth about what is going to happen with what you are currently sowing and my appeal to you is, first, my appeal to me. I want to sow some different things so the day would come – I think God likes us to ask outlandish things – I want the day to come that someday, in heaven, maybe I find out about it later, where God would really say, My servant, Chip is extraordinarily kind and extraordinarily generous. Because I can tell you, if you interviewed my kids and my wife and some of my closest friends, they would say, “You’ve got to get extraordinary out of there. He is making progress.”
But what would your mate, what would your roommate, what would your friends, what would your employer, what would people say about you?
How kind are you? How generous are you? Well, here’s the practices that will allow you and me to be extraordinarily kind and generous.
Principle number one: we reap where we sow. “Do not be deceived,” underline deceived. This is – money and possessions are powerful. “God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his flesh,” the selfish side, “the flesh reaps corruption. But the one who sows to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Are you ready? We reap where we sow. If all your time is at work, if all your time is at success, if all your time is income, if all your time is about you – it’s the flesh.
Now, do we need to have work and do lots of good things? But if it’s selfish, if it’s about you, me, mine, greed, hoarding. And here’s the thing: I have never met – just one person, actually – I have never met someone who goes, “Oh, I am greedy. I am materialistic.” I have actually done this. I don’t recommend it.
But I got a clipboard and I pretended I was taking a survey and I went to a strip mall. And I walked around and I said, “Excuse me,” and they are looking at me weird. I said, “No, no, no, no. This is a survey, but there’s just one question. And it’s just yes or no.” Oh, they said, “Oh, okay.” Here’s the question, “Would you consider yourself,” and I had it really proper, “would you consider yourself a generous person?” Eight or nine out of ten, guess what the answer was: yes.
Well, you can’t get more generous if you think you’re generous, right? If you asked their wife, their friends, their kids, their roommate, their employer – they would not say they are generous. That’s why He says, “Don’t be deceived.”
In America, are you ready for this? We could interview Christians all over America and I know, if I, “Are you a generous person?” They would say yes. And then I would say, “It’s really amazing, because only two point five percent of all those who claim to follow Jesus even give the first portion of ten percent of their income.”
So, in other words, our words and our thoughts and our intentions over here, God says, “I won’t be mocked. You’re going to reap where you sow.”
Second principle is that we reap how much we sow. So, it’s not just wherever you sow, that’s where you’re going to reap. If life is all about you, and by the way, don’t we all do this? Don’t give me that, I feel guilty look. Would you stop talking? I struggle with this. You struggle with this. We are in this together. But we are going to change. We can change by God’s grace and power.
He says, “We reap how much we sow. Now, this I say, he who sows sparingly will reap also sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will reap also bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
The context is there was a famine and this is a Gentile church and they were raising money to help really, really poor people. And Paul is collecting it and he just – it’s just a reminder. You can give a little or you can give a lot, but the kingdom works like this. If you have a hundred seeds and you plant it in a box that is five by five, you’re going to get “x” amount of fruit. If you have a hundred thousand seeds and you plant it in a box that is five acres by five acres, you get a lot more. So, he is just reminding them: whatever you sow in whatever amount. If you’re a little kind, that’s what you get back. If you’re a little generous, that’s what you get back. If you have harsh, negative words – guess what – where you sow, that’s what you get back.
The third principle, and this is the one, at least for me, was like, Oh wow, do I really believe this, or not? Kingdom sowing is counterintuitive. That’s a big word for: it sounds really dumb when you hear it, right?
He is going to say: the kingdom works, here’s the world, and God’s kingdom principles, whoo, are the opposite. So, He is going to say: do things that you’re thinking, Now, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. That doesn’t make, that’s illogical. Notice the wisest man in the world in Proverbs 3, verses 9 and 10. “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce,” and here’s the promise, “so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
I don’t know about you, I didn’t grow up reading the Bible. Someone is telling me, “Take the very first and the very best of your work and give it to God to love and help people and God says, That’s how your barns are going to get…” That doesn’t make sense. You give away and you get more? It’s kingdom. That’s why your life becomes unexplainable.
And there are people all over the world. But they have got this core: we are going to be generous. We are going to build God’s kingdom. We are going to give out of our profits. We are going to give our time. We are going to give to our employees. And crazy stuff happens. He just keeps blessing.
“There’s one who scatters,” Proverbs goes on to say, chapter 11, “and it increases all the more.” That’s illogical. Well, unless you look at it literally. If you scattered more seed, a lot more would grow up. “And there is one who withholds what is justly due and it results only in want.” And we all know this by experience. “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
Pause for a moment. I know I am going fast. I want you to think of someone that you know that is just winsome. Everybody likes them at work or everyone likes them in the neighborhood or it’s a Christian, maybe it’s in one of your small groups, your studies. And just, and then just ask yourself, What is it about this person that is so magnetic?
It’s the person that you sit down and talk and after an hour you realize you talked for forty-five minutes and they listened for forty-five minutes. It’s the person that you’re just hanging out with and you weren’t even making a big deal, but there was a little need over here and you get a note the next week and the person met the need.
Generous people are super attractive. Generous people have friends. Generous people have joy. Generous people are like a magnet that we all want to be around. But what we forget is they give. They have the same hours in the day that we do. Many of them have less money. In fact, all the research says poorer people are far more generous than us rich people.
Notice the words of Jesus, “Give, and it will be given unto you,” counterintuitive, “they will pour back into your lap.” Well, how are they going to pour back? Well, “Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.” It’s a picture in an agricultural society where someone is giving you something and you shake it to make more room. He says, “God is not going to bless, He is going to really bless.” And whatever size measuring you give, you get it in return.
So, bring a cup of generosity, you’ll get a cup of generosity. Bring a bucket of generosity, get a bucket of generosity. It’s just a law of the kingdom. Now, there is no give-to-get here, by the way. That’s a perversion. There’s no, “Hey, I’m going to give away a lot because, okay, now You owe me.” Well, guess what, you have just violated the spirit of it. It’s not generosity, that’s manipulation.
Final principle is we never reap in the same season that we sow. This is why it’s hard. Okay, you are listening to me and you’re thinking, Man, I have got a bunch of debt and I am supposed to start giving? Or, Okay, I give one point three percent. Or, I am doing this or I am doing that. And even the thought of this…
Now, I have seen God do it radically, but when you begin to give, Well, I’m going to be kind to my wife. I’m going to, a new person is going to show up at work. Don’t expect the next day to get a promotion.
He says, “Don’t lose heart in doing good. In due time,” underline due time, “it will reap if you don’t grow weary. So then, what should we do? While we still have the opportunity, let us do good,” get this, “to all people.” Circle all people. We don’t just love each other. All people. Especially the people that they don’t think you care at all. The marginalized people. The people whose politics or lifestyle or sexual orientation is different. Do good to all people. That’s what Jesus did. “But, especially to the household of the faith.”
The reason we continue in unhealthy, unwise, selfish, greedy practices – and did you hear “we?” all of us – is because the consequences don’t show up right away. If I sat down to watch a good basketball game and ate this whole box of Triscuits with my super-duper sharp cheddar cheese and my super Diet Coke, in a moment of binging, and then if I got up and walked into the bedroom and immediately, two pounds went around my waist, I think I could kick my Triscuit addiction. But it doesn’t work that way, does it?
And more seriously, small neglects in my marriage, small neglects in my investment in renewing my mind, just a little pecking around with some pornography here, just a little flirting here – nothing happened, right? Nothing happened. A little obsession with work and not really spending time that’s knowing what is on your kid’s heart. Nothing happened. Everybody seems okay.
Ten years, twelve years, twenty years. A marriage falling apart; kids disengaged. It was just a little bit of debt; it was just a little bit of neglect. Ten years later. See, you never reap in the same season that you sow. That’s why it takes faith!
The goal, God’s goal is not to get some people to come to meetings: church; listen to someone talk; sing a couple songs; and be relatively a little bit nicer and maybe a little bit more moral than the world. That is not a Christian. Those are some activities that Christians are in.
Following Jesus is: the seed of the living God, of the Holy Spirit comes and takes residence inside your body when you recognize your sin and turn from it and ask God for forgiveness and based solely on what He did on the cross and His resurrection, He actually enters your life and it begins to develop and cultivate the very character of Jesus in you as you get in community and get in His Word and talk to Him and become generous.
This is, it actually says, “My generosity manifesto,” so, this is mine, all right? This isn’t yours.
And here’s the question: do you want to be extraordinarily kind? And do you want to be extraordinarily generous? If so, you can check a box or two and at the very end, you can do this and put that somewhere. That’s what I really want to be. And God will start doing it. Or, I would never say this out loud, if you would rather choose to be a bit more selfish and a bit less generous and be miserly, which usually ends up in miserable, then I wouldn’t do anything. I really wouldn’t.
But there is, remember? We are deceived. Money has the power to deceive. We actually think we are doing okay. Your money is probably the clearest x-ray or MRI of your soul. And it’s so clear and so measurable. That’s why Jesus talked about it, because our money and hearts are connected.
So, let me walk through. Here’s my manifesto. Whatever part you’re willing and ready, by the grace of God, here’s an invitation. I hereby declare by the following actions, I’m inviting you to do that, that I believe it is as Jesus said more blessed to give than to receive.
If you really believe it’s more blessed to give than to receive, that your life is better and blessed, in every way: relationally, friendships, financially. Well, then, okay. Check number one: I thereby declare that all that I have or ever will have belongs to Christ.
That was the turning point for me. I remember coming to church, I wasn’t a Christian, “Give ten percent of my money? Are you people on drugs? I bet you’re like those people on TV, just trying to rip me off.” And I met some real Christians and saw how they really used it and it was like, “Whoa.” It’s not yours, Chip. “Oh.” I guess it’s not as hard to give back His money to Him or His time to Him.
Second, I hereby declare to act in obedience to God’s Word by giving back to God the first ten percent of what He has blessed and entrusted to me. And you can hear debates on tithing for today or whatever. It’s probably not worth going into. Long before there was a law, Abraham gave ten percent to Melchizedek after God richly blessed him with spoils. Pre-incarnate Christ.
Moses, they gave ten percent of everything. And if you add it all up, they gave twenty-three percent of their income because they were living in a theocracy. Part of it was like tax and the other part was these thank and voluntary offerings.
You keep moving, Jesus, His life. The Pharisees of the day, boy, they tithed but they missed the heart – mercy, justice, kindness. He said, “Don’t forsake the former,” tithing, “but you’ve got to get your heart right.” Malachi would just say, “The reason you’re having financial issues and relational issues and your life has got,” he talked about: you have a purse with holes in it. In other words, you keep putting stuff in, and it keeps leaking.
He said, “Because you are robbing God.” You declare it really belongs to Him by giving the first portion. For some of you, man, I’ll tell you, that would be a big step. You’d probably have to rearrange your finances and to do it, first, and not know how it’s going to work out – that’s faith. That was a hard one for me. But I can look back and realize: Wow!
Third is: I hereby declare that Jesus’ blessings, both financial or otherwise, are not designed primarily to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving. See, when you’re unconsciously greedy and deceived, every time you get more money, you get bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger.
I used to drive this kind of car; now, this kind of car. This kind of car. I used to make this much, so, here’s my house. Now, this is my house. Now, here are my two houses. Now…
And we just do it. Now, I think God wants to raise our standard of living. He is very, very gracious. I live in a really great house. I have a really nice car. But ask yourself: when do you say, “This is good”? “This is my standard. This is all I want. This is where God wants me to live.”
And for some of you, that’s a five-year-old Volkswagen. For others, it’s a Tesla. You figure that out. Because of your roles in your work and however, you figure out what it is. But just, what if you said, “When God brings more in, maybe it’s not for a second home. Maybe it’s not for a remodel. Maybe He actually gave me some to help some refugees in Syria. Or some clean water in Africa. Or some local ministry right here.”
The next little box that I have checked is: I hereby declare to intentionally and aggressively remove the shackles of personal debt that have limited my giving, my going, and my peace. Forty to fifty percent of all marriages that fail are traced back to financial issues that cause tension.
Some of you, the next best step is, okay, I am going to give this. But we – there are certain things that are appreciable. God bless us, right? I am paying for a house. But I actually pay a bunch off on the principle every month.
Your personal debt – attack it. Go to a counselor; cut up your credit cards. There are plenty of good books about how to do that. But here’s the deal: when I pay everything on time, and I make minimum payments, I am the slave, the Scripture says. Borrowers are the slave to the lender.
So, if I have a card and a lot of stuff, they are charging me twelve, thirteen, fourteen percent. You are more than tithing, you’re just not doing it to God. It’s called Visa, MasterCard, Discover. You are! And you’re paying that much more. We better move quickly on that one. That was very convicting for some of you.
But, now, here’s the deal: you can’t be kind, you can’t be kind, you can’t be generous – you’ve got all this stuff on you. Attack it aggressively. Declare, manifesto, “I am going to get out of debt.” And I am going to learn to give along the way.
Man, everyone I have met that has ever done that, it’s eighteen months or two years or three years – who cares? Bam! You go for it. And you go for it, whoo. Every one of these things are to free you.
The next box is: I hereby declare that I will prayerfully cap my lifestyle expenses to become an extraordinarily generous person. And this was something that I did not that long ago. I grew up really pretty poor and my wife grew up pretty poor. And we had four kids and sometimes two in college and two in private schools. And, gosh, I remember like, We have a thousand dollars in savings. We are doing really, really great.
And that wasn’t all that many years ago. But I made some decisions and one of them was to do pre-decisions about generosity because your heart is deceitful.
So, I had a guy who was a mentor. And he said, someone had asked me to write a book and I was on my first book, and he said, “I want to hire a professional financial planner for you to help you with your finances.” I said, “I don’t need a financial planner. I’ve got two kids in college, doing this, doing that. This is how much I make. This is what we are giving. I don’t have any money. I don’t need to plan.” He goes, “No, no, no, no, no, no. You need a plan.” He said, “You need to decide in advance, Chip, what you are going to do if God decides to bless this.” He said, “Do you want to be dependent on income from books?” I said, “No, but I would like to be able to pay for a college education and some stuff.” And he said, “Okay.” He said…
So, I got with this financial planner and basically this is, they tell pastors, it’s a Christian one, “So, look, if you fall morally, you wreck your life, you wreck the church, whatever you have to do, don’t do that. If you get arrogant and full of yourself, you wreck your life, you wreck the church. But the one you guys don’t think about is if your finances get out of line, you wreck your life, you wreck the church. So, why don’t you decide, I have worked these things out, what should you give before you ever write the first book?”
So, I prayed about it. I talked with Theresa. Okay, we don’t want to be dependent on this. So, why don’t we say in advance, this was really easy: at least half of anything that comes in from any book any time, we just give to the Lord’s work. It was really pretty easy. I gave half of nothing away.
But that decision, in advance, changed my world. And as a result, yes, I have a very comfortable lifestyle, but then we said, anything at Living on the Edge goes to them. Here’s our lifestyle; all of that that comes in, we are going to give it all away.
And it has been, it’s so exciting! We are poor people. We grew up poor people, like, we couldn’t pay the rent and stuff hardly. And now, to write a check for all these orphans in Zimbabwe and to write a check to an institution.
The joy and the excitement and looking into people’s eyes. God wants that for you. This is not a: give your money! Give your money! But cap your lifestyle. And you cap it where He shows you. “I am going to limit myself to two houses.” Okay. Great! Do whatever God shows you to do. But at some point in time, draw a line. It’s really exciting.
And then the last one here is: I hereby declare I’ll volunteer my time and talent “x” percent of my waking hours. I’d like you to write, “ten percent.” And I am being really gracious with you. Are you ready for this? A hundred and sixty-eight hours in a week. Hardly anyone sleeps eight hours, although we should. So, eight times seven, fifty-six. Subtract that out. Now, we are down to one-twelve. Let me give you some time to eat. Take those twelve hours away. So, you’ve got a hundred hours every week. Imagine, are you ready? Imagine. Imagine.
Can you imagine if all of us gave ten hours a week? That’s ten percent of our waking – in the name of Jesus – to love people. You could volunteer in the church, you can volunteer outside the church, you could do some…
Here’s what I want to ask you: which of those boxes are you going to check, and what is your next step? You grow into generosity.
Well, here’s some specifics. First step, and just do it for ninety days. If God doesn’t show up, don’t do it anymore. But for ninety days: “I commit to take the first step in generosity by committing to give,” and you put a percentage in, “of my income and my time weekly.”
Maybe you’re saying, I don’t have much faith. This is all new to me. Dear God, I have two point five percent faith. So, that’s what I’m giving. Or five point seven. Or one point three. Or eight point nine. I don’t care what it is. It’s between you and God. On this, there’s no number here. But what if all of us did something? Half of all the people in America that are Christians give nothing. It sounds really strong, but it’s true.
But I think if I asked you, “Are you generous?” You know what? We don’t make the connection. You’re not a bad person. But we don’t get it.
Next step, “As a follower of Christ, I commit to generously and faithfully give ten percent of my time weekly.”
There are probably lots of you who know: this is what I really ought to do. I intellectually believe that. But right now, because of…I am going to give some time and I’ve got these kids in school and I’ve got this here. And things at work are a little hard and I’m concerned about the future.
Guess what – none of those things ever change. This is about faith. God, it all belongs to You. You have told me: demonstrate that I really believe that by giving first and foremost.
“Above and beyond, I commit to joyfully growing my faith and generosity by giving ‘blank’ percent above my current tithe of ten percent of my income and weekly time.” It’s interesting that as our income and things grow – I have met people that, they have been a Christian for thirty years, thirty years ago, “I believe in tithing. It all belongs to God.” They gave ten percent.
Thirty years later. “I give ten percent.” How can that be? How can our hearts not grow? How can not we see the opportunities? I can tell you what happens. We get deceived and so what happens is our lifestyle grows, but our giving doesn’t grow.
Take a big risk! One percent this year! I’m an eleven percenter this year! I met a guy that, literally, supercharged my giving. He heard about that the year after he was married. And so, he decided: “Every year I am married, I am going to give one more percent just to see if God shows up.”
I met him when he was married fifty-eight years. Fifty-eight and ten. He was giving sixty-eight percent of his income. And then he turned to me, he goes, “It’s really interesting. I was a private architect and somehow things worked out and I ended up doing these shopping centers. And I can look back over,” he talked like this, “I can look back over,” he was really old, “I can look back over fifty-eight years and I have never made less money this year than the year before! It’s amazing. God! And you invest in the great bank of heaven!” Sorry, Paul. That was a bad imitation. But what would happen? What would happen if we did that?
The final one here is for those of you that, everything I am talking about, you may even have the gift of giving and you’re going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, rah, rah, rah. I believe that.” You’re giving over and above. You’re looking at a pretty big percentage. Here’s my word for some of us that are, we have been growing. Pause and just ask about your motives.
One of the dangers of getting radically generous in your giving is to begin to see numbers and, Okay, I gave twenty-nine percent last year. But I gave thirty-one percent this year. Hey, God, hey. Look at me! And just back away and just ask: is there still joy? And then ask, Okay, Lord, have I justified myself? Is there something really exciting You would put on my heart? And would I do something crazy and radical if You showed me? And just pray. Because this is always about your heart.
“Although He was rich,” speaking of Jesus, “He became poor that we, through His poverty, might become rich.” “The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth, that He might strongly support those whose heart is fully His.”
Lord, I have talked a lot about money. I know You have people all across the spectrum. You have some people that actually You don’t even want any of their money today. You want them to say, Could I receive something? Could I receive forgiveness of my sins and You come live inside of me and start a brand-new life and have all my sins behind me today? Lord, that’s Your heart.
And, God, for all of us, it’s easy to say this, but it’s so true. You really, really, really neither need nor want our money, but Jesus, you talked about it so much because our heart is connected to it.
My heart’s desire is that you tender, kind, gentle, loving Holy Spirit would fill people with a level of courage and faith, that You would break the power of darkness in their heart and in mine, and that every one of us would take at least a baby step toward being more generous. Amen.