Last time I wrote, I shared with you how generosity goes against human nature, but it is the very key God uses to unlock our productivity in the kingdom and His abundance to us to facilitate our mission. As pastors, we don’t want to cause our people to give under compulsion; we want them to develop a spirit of giving cheerfully and generously. When we do, the Holy Spirit will move upon them and bring them to a new place of yieldedness to God in terms of their giving and stewardship of His resources.
When I was in my third year at Oral Roberts University, I had an academic scholarship that paid for part of my school and I played baseball to offset the rest. Unfortunately, I suffered an arm injury, and my arm never healed back to the place where I could play with the same strength and accuracy. Suddenly, I couldn’t pay my school bills. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was praying and asking God to meet my needs, but I could feel the Holy Spirit wasn’t pleased. Then, my pastor preached a message on Luke 6:38, that if I gave, it would be given back to me. That was my answer. God just wanted me to love people and trust Him. Within six months, I was making money going to school. I had scholarships offered to me. I had businesses given to me. People put money into my account. Why? I stopped relating to God like a slave and began relating to Him as a son. I began to ask, “Father, what do You want me to do? I know You’ll take care of me, but what do You want me to do?”
We are God’s sons and daughters. He puts dreams in our hearts that we will see come to pass if we will live generously. Only then can he unleash His favor and do things for us that we could never do for ourselves.
A word of caution: It’s easy for things to be on budget at church, but the church building isn’t yours, the missions projects aren’t yours. I know I didn’t initiate mine! They’re things my Father initiated. I work for Him. There may be tough times walking out our acts of generosity, like when we built our current church and didn’t have any money in the bank, yet the Lord said to build the building by faith. I talked with my leaders, and they all felt like it was a word from the Lord. Still it wasn’t easy to walk out. But as we stepped forward in faith and became generous, the presence of God came down.
In John 8:31, Jesus said to the Jews who believed Him, “If you hold to My teaching, you’re really My disciples. And you’ll know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” In essence, He was saying, “I want to teach you things that are going to cause God to do more in your life.” I know you know the Bible, pastor, but I want to remind you of these things because they will cause God to do even more in your life and ministry than what He’s doing right now. It’s what your people need to hear from you, so it’s good for you to be reminded.
I set my church up for generosity, and you have to do the same. I told them, “You have to create margin to be generous because if you don’t have anything, you can’t give it away. It isn’t about the size of your wallet; it’s about the size of your heart. If a person has even nine or ten dollars, and they can spare one, they have what it takes to be generous toward God.” That’s when we started seeing our people become generous and say yes to giving.
I’m still not anywhere near as generous as I want to be personally. Not everything that God has put in my heart has come to pass yet, and part of the reason, I’ve learned, is because there are some things I have not yet mastered. I’m not the greatest example of generosity in the world, but I think you can hear the biblical truth in this regardless.
Generosity breeds discipleship because generosity causes people to ask what God wants to do with their time. People who don’t have time for the things of God talk about their lives being too full of what they want to use their time for. They don’t have anything to give to God!
Paul said in Romans 16:25, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began…” He was saying, “My gospel is one my life has proven to you, that if you will obey God, He’ll do these things.” His proclamation in keeping with “the revelation of the mystery” is really our job as pastors, to show those God has entrusted to us that the Word of God works absolutely.