It is so easy to think of life as a zero-sum game. The lie says, “If I give, then I won’t have.”
What if God set up the universe in such a way that those who are generous are actually those who he blesses the most? What if a life of generosity offers infinitely more than a life of self-interest?
Join us as we learn from Pastor Cal Jernigan on why generosity is so important to God.
Support the show (https://www.centralaz.com/Give)
It is so easy to think of life as a zero-sum game. The lie says, “If I give, then I won’t have.”
What if God set up the universe in such a way that those who are generous are actually those who he blesses the most? What if a life of generosity offers infinitely more than a life of self-interest?
Join us as we learn from Pastor Cal Jernigan on why generosity is so important to God.
Support the show (https://www.centralaz.com/Give)
[00:00:00] Man, good morning to every one of you here, whichever campus you're on. As you're watching this, you are on our minds. Also, if you are online, I want you to know we're thinking about you. And every week they shoot some names of some folks that are online. So Kristen, who is in Texas, somewhere, Jeanette, who is in South Dakota.
[00:00:17] We welcome you and everyone else, wherever you are on any location around the Valley or around the world, man, we are, we're glad you're with us. Here's what I need you to do. Let's get serious first, open your Bible, the first Kings 17. Just take a moment to find your Bible. Find that passage. Okay. Kings is probably.
[00:00:38] Probably about a third of the way through the Old Testament, in that neighborhood. All right. And we'll just get that ready so that when we get there. Okay. So that, that that'll be serious in just a moment, but now we've got to get to the formalities of today. All right. So obviously there's a big football game today, and I'm just curious as to where we land.
[00:00:56] So we're, again, wherever you are, if you're online and you're watching this after the fact, that's [00:01:00] not fair. But we, I just need to know. Okay. So how many of you think Kansas City is going to do this? Make some noise? It's not overly convincing. How many of you think, how, what was that other team? Oh, Tampa Bay.
[00:01:13] Yeah. How many of you think Tampa Bay is going to do it?
[00:01:18] I was pretty close. How many of you just straight up? I couldn't care less. It makes now that okay. I was the same in the last service. All right. So I guess we really don't care. So here we go. All right. All right, so I want to you you, you, you probably are, are aware that there has been a question that's been asked and people have wrestled with this question for quite a while, and tried to find the solution to the question.
[00:01:46] Engineers have pondered it, and all kinds of opinions have been issued on it. And so we're going to figure this thing out right now. So here it is right there. The question is very simple. Is it half full or is it half [00:02:00] empty? Okay. Is it half full or is it half empty? Now in the truth of the matter it's a stupid, it's a silly question, because again, you think you don't care about a football game who cares,
[00:02:11] about whether that's half full or half empty? And by the way, and I don't mean this as a put down my opinion of that your opinion on that it doesn't change anything. It is what it is. All right. Whatever's in, there is in there. That's just it. But I do want to point out that how you see that really does have, it has an ability to it's perspective to you matters because if you see what's missing, you're going to see it in that frame.
[00:02:37] If you see what's there, you're going to see it in that frame. And believe it or not, that is going to be an image that we're going to wrestle with today. All right. So here's what we're going to do. We're going to jump in to our Bibles. So we're going to be in first Kings 17 has already told ya. So just take a moment to find that.
[00:02:51] Let me just explain to you what's going on. We're just going to jump right in here. I'm going to. Well, Kings and Chronicles. So first and second [00:03:00] Kings first and second Chronicles, they actually cover the same material, but they're the story of the Kings in the Northern kingdom of Israel and the Southern kingdom of Judah.
[00:03:08] So you have David, he hands the kingdom off to his son, Solomon. Solomon, hands it off to his son Rehoboam and then the kingdom split into the North and the South. And then there's the series of succession of Kings in the North and succession of Kings in the South, the book of first and second, the books first and second Kings, tell their story again.
[00:03:27] First, the second Chronicles, Chronicle their story, and they just tell you all kinds of things now. It's really about Kings, but with God put Kings in place, he also brought along people that were called prophets. All right. Now prophets were those who would speak for God, often consulting the King often advising the King, often warning the King that was in power you do this because the prophet was the voice of God.
[00:03:53] And the prophets were not necessarily popular because they'd often say things people didn't want to hear and that's an age old problem. Right. But, but they were [00:04:00] trusted where they would represent God. So everyone had a kind of a reverence for the prophets, but they were specific, you know, really specifically speaking to the, to the Kings that were in power now.
[00:04:10] In the first and second Kings and first and second Chronicles in the stories that are told of the Kings there's encounters with these prophets that are just fascinating because they kind of, they brush up against everyday people, not just Kings, but everyday people like you and me and, and then things would happen.
[00:04:26] So what I want to do is I want to tell you the story of two prophets and two widows. All right. Now, before I go any further, I got to explain a lot of the prophets like Elijah and Daniel and whatnot. They had major books that they had written and named after them. There's two prophets that are very, very substantial in the old Testament that there are no books they're told about, but they didn't write it.
[00:04:51] The first is a guy named Elijah, Elijah. All right. Now we're going to see a story of Elijah in just a moment. His successor was a guy and his name sounds [00:05:00] very similar. It's not the same guy. It's not the same name, Elijah, Elisha. All right. So the first story is going to be about Elijah and a widow.
[00:05:09] The second story is going to be about Elisha and a widow, not the same widow, two widows, two different prophets. So first Kings chapter 17. Let me just explain, what's going to happen. We're going to read this now again. I always always always ask you, bring a Bible because I really believe it's just get familiar with your Bible.
[00:05:23] It won't intimidate you and you'll feel very comfortable being able to navigate your way around it. And you'll feel very confident that you know what you're talking about. So it's real important you read your Bible. So, but this particular story I can't put up. If you didn't bring a Bible, you just going to have to listen.
[00:05:34] Okay. So Elijah the first of the two, Elijah has a confrontation. And in which he basically says, God's going to stop all the rain. And that's very threatening to the people. They don't want to hear that. All right. Certain people Kings in particular. Okay. But then I'm going to pick this up at verse two first Kings 17:2.
[00:05:53] Here. I'm going to go quick. So we've got to follow along. All right. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah. Leave [00:06:00] here, turn eastward and hide in Kerith in the Kerith ravine. All right. East of the Jordan, you will drink from the brook as I have directed ravens to supply you with food there. Okay. How many of you want to eat
[00:06:12] what ravens bring you? Right. That is not the least been appealing. Does it? Like, I don't know whether it would get a rat or something. I don't know what a raven would go after, but he says, Hey, I'm going to take care of you, but the ravens are going to do it. So, so he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith ravine East of the Jordan, and he stayed there.
[00:06:28] Now the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening. Any drink from the brook. There's like a sweet life, man, you lay around the birds come, they've dropped the food off and you're good. Now I know that sounds kind of weird, but just go with it. All right. Now, sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land, which Elijah prophesied there's going to be
[00:06:49] no rain. Well, eventually the brook dries, and now there's a problem. Then the word of the Lord came to him and he said, go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I want you to move. [00:07:00] I want you to go to this particular place. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food. The ravens were doing it here, but I want you to go to this place.
[00:07:08] And then the widow is going to make sure that you're fed. All right. So we went to Zarephath and he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. And so we called out to her and he asked, would you bring me a little water in a jar that he may have a drink? And as she was going to get it, he called em, and bring me please a piece of bread.
[00:07:28] Not unreasonable. All right. And then she said this, as surely as the Lord, your God lives, she replied, I don't have any bread. Only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son that we may eat it and die. What? Is the last supper?
[00:07:54] I mean, what are you saying? She's going, yeah. We're like, we're giving up. We're we're we're done. We've done [00:08:00] everything. We know how, and so I've got just a little, a flour, a little oil. I've got some sticks here and I got nothing to give you. That's what she's saying. All right. This is just for this special occasion.
[00:08:14] Now, Elijah said to her, all right, don't be afraid. Go home and do, as you have said, go make the bread. Now catch this. Okay. But first make a small loaf of bread for me, from what you have and bring it to me. Okay. Now let's get real. No, not a chance. No. Okay. This is really hard because you got to understand Elijah represents God to the people.
[00:08:41] So this is not just a prophet saying, Hey, give me a little loaf of bread. This is literally God saying to her, Hey, I'm over here first. Do this first, and she's really got a dilemma on her hands what to do. And then he said, so do that, bring it to me and then make a meal for [00:09:00] yourself. All right. And and your son for this is what the Lord, your God says the God of Israel.
[00:09:07] Okay. So, Hey lady, listen up this important, the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land. So the prophet says you're going to need to trust me on this, but get your priorities in order. God first and then you guys. Okay. And if you'll put God first, it's clearly what he's saying.
[00:09:30] If you put God first, God's going to take care of you. If she won't give up what she has, God's not going to give her what he has. It's very clear. Okay. It's just, it's a struggle though. All right. So she's got to wrestle with this. And he says the jar flour will not be used up in the jug of water and not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.
[00:09:50] So she went away and probably has some serious thinking to do, but she thought about it. And she did, as Elijah had told her. So there was, [00:10:00] so there was food everyday for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up in the jug of oil did not run dry. In keeping with the word of the Lord had spoken of by Elijah.
[00:10:12] Okay. Now that's a fantastic story. Now here's the problem. Okay. Because we're cynics, we're, we're skeptics. We're like, okay. Like, ah, come on really? Like, is this as, there's not one of those Bible stories, you know, that you go, yeah. They'll like fat chance. You know, folks, we are in a crisis right now because here's the deal.
[00:10:32] You live among a people and in a land that no longer believes in the credibility of God. And we just talked about it all through the month of January. All right. You've got to decide whether you believe in God or not, because here's the deal. If you do what everybody else is doing, you're going to get what everybody else is getting.
[00:10:49] But if you'll do what God says to do, you'll get a different outcome, but to do what God says, you got to stand against everybody else. And it's a tough thing to do. All right now, let's go to the second story. So jump over. You're going to [00:11:00] go to the neighborhood to the right. Okay. And that's going to be the book of second Kings.
[00:11:04] So just go until you get to second Kings and find chapter four and a different story. Different guy. It's not Elijah. It's his successor. It's Elisha. All right. And here's what happened here. This is a shorter one. All right. Now the wife of a man, and this is chapter four, verse one, the wife of a man from the company of the prophets, cried out to Elisha, the wife of a man from the company of the prophets.
[00:11:31] The company of the prophets were these people that Elisha was kind of like hitting up. They were prophets. You'll understand, but she's married to one of those prophets. You're a servant. My husband is dead, which Elisha I'm sure knew. And you know that he revered the Lord, but now his creditors come in to take my two boys as his slaves.
[00:11:51] Okay. There's a different day, different era, different culture, different time. But my husband owed money and the creditors going to take my kids. All right. [00:12:00] Elisha replied to her. How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house? What do you, what do you got? Your servant has nothing there at all
[00:12:08] she said, except a small jar of olive oil. That's all. I got everything busted, man broke little tiny jar, little tiny bit of olive oil. That's all I got. Elisha said. Okay. Here's what I want you to do. That man of God says, go around and ask all of your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few, get serious, go get every empty jar you can find.
[00:12:34] All right, then go inside, shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the ours as each one is filled and then put it through the side. If you say what, yeah, we'll get all the, all the jars from all your friends. And then you take that little jar of olive oil and you start to pour a fill up every one of those jars.
[00:12:52] And then when. As far as you set it aside. Okay. Now at this point you got to go, okay, are you a skeptic or a cynic? Are you going to [00:13:00] do what the prophet said to do? Cause this is nuts. I don't need any other jars. I got a little jar its empty. It's got a little olive oil and it's just, that's all. And he's going, yeah.
[00:13:09] I just need you to go get every jar you can find. At some point you've got to get engaged. Then you've got to make a decision that you're going to do that. Are you going to go to go get one little cup and go? That's all. That's what? Yeah, that's good. So she's got a dilemma. So she just like, you just like me.
[00:13:24] All right. How far am I going to go with this? So she left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring when all the jars were full. She said to her son, bring me another one, but he replied. There was not a jar left. Then the oil stopped flowing. She, she went and told the man of God and he said, go sell the oil and pay your debts.
[00:13:51] You and your sons can live on what's left. Okay. Wait, wait a minute. What, what do [00:14:00] you think at some point she's going, why did I not work harder? To get more jars. She's connecting. What's going on. You're connecting. What's going on. At some point she had a little bit of regret. So let me just ask you this question.
[00:14:15] Okay. What would it take to convince you that if you simply did what God told you to do, he would blow your mind with what he actually could and would do in your life. What would it take? What would God have to do to you? So get your attention. That you would go, like, I can't believe this. This is mind-blowing.
[00:14:39] So today we begin the series. Now we're calling it free to give right now we chose free to give for the idea of freedom. It's a free thing and giving because whenever you hear free to... you usually associate a different word you associate free to take. So if there was a barbecue out on the [00:15:00] sidewalk and there was a sign-on and it said free to take, you know, what it means is it's yours.
[00:15:06] If you want it, take it right. We have so learned how to take, we are free to take, we know what free to take means, but, but there's something counterintuitive. If it said free to give you stare at it. What do you mean free to give? W I don't, I don't even understand what are you, why would you put free to give?
[00:15:22] So we're going to wrestle with this idea of a different way to look. Now, I want to be crystal clear. This is a series about generosity. Look at me, look at me. Okay. Wherever you are, wherever you are. Look at me. Okay. This is not a series about money is a series about generosity, but it's certainly about money.
[00:15:41] It's not about money. But it is certainly about money. Okay. Let, let me, let me explain Jesus. When he wanted to teach spiritual principles, the most frequent metaphor, he would use the most frequent illustration. He would pull out the most frequent prop. He would ever get his hands on. It would be money. It was always [00:16:00] about money.
[00:16:00] Why? Because we get money and money gets us. So Jesus would constantly go into that well going, Hey, let me see what he was putting in these words. And we understand everybody. Everybody understands when we're talking about money, what we're talking about. That's not a big, huge mystery. All right. But folks, it's just not money.
[00:16:20] All right. Money is going to be an illustration of it. But, but it's about time and it's about energy. It's about your compassion. It's about your trust. It's about your obedience. It's about your blessing. All right. Now the essence of generosity that I'm going to try to lay out here, I'm going to try to make this make sense.
[00:16:36] In a few moments I got. His generosity is about trusting God. That's what it's about. And those who can trust God will be generous. And those who won't trust God, won't be generous. That generosity is about trusting God. Now I want to talk about a reality in our society that we're all dealing with. Okay.
[00:16:52] And I introduced this to you last week. Let me remind you. Okay. So we're living coming out of the age of 2020. We're [00:17:00] living with a new mentality that most of us have not really had to wrestle with. It's called the scarcity mentality. Most of us have come up short on stuff of the last year that we never thought we'd run out of.
[00:17:12] Okay. Like, and again, you know, and I said this last week from toilet paper, all right. To hand sanitizer to disinfectint wipes to items of food that will always plentiful, like beans. Which takes us back to the toilet paper. Okay. So it's a cycle. All right. It's a sho... it's a shortage. It's a S you go to the store and they don't have any.
[00:17:36] All right. Now this is freaking us out because we're not used to living like this. No, there's two things that I think 2020 has taught us. One is fear, is fear. Just the sense that there is not going to be enough. And because of that, and by the way, fear is what always comes out of the scarcity mentality. Well, what if I run out?
[00:17:59] What if there's not [00:18:00] enough? And whenever you find fear, listen to me, fear loves negativity. Look pay attention to this. You'll see you. Can't miss it. Once you see it, a fearful people are negative people. Fearful people are always thinking about what's wrong. What's bad. What's the risk what's going to go.
[00:18:17] What's going to go bad and wrong in any equation. And whenever fear shows up, there's going to be a couple of cousins or sisters, or like stress and anxiety. You're going to show up wherever fear shows up. So we've learned how to be afraid. Now we're, we're hoping, but deep down inside, there's a thing. You know, you go to your, go to your, your local Costco, your Sam's club, wherever you shop.
[00:18:44] And just look at how many things of toilet paper are going out the door. Cause when they have it, you got to got to get it. You got to get it. Okay. Now the second thing that scarcity brings with it is fear and then greed, greed, because I've got to make sure I'm taken [00:19:00] care of, because I, if I have a choice between me not having toilet paper and you not having toilet paper I'd choose you that you don't know, not that I don't have it.
[00:19:09] And so we get very self-centered. We get very stingy. We get very self centered. All right. Because it's just because there's not enough to go around and, and we become afraid and people hoard. We say we never otherwise hoard, but they would hoard now let live. So let me just make this idea of, I'll throw it on the screen behind me.
[00:19:30] When you have a scarcity mindset, you compete for resources, even when there is an abundance of them. Let me explain how many of you, that's just straight up. I, where we are, let's just do something. How many of you believe. That we went to the bathroom more in 2020 than we did the year before.
[00:19:52] Why did we run out of toilet paper? We didn't run out of toilet paper. They didn't S they didn't know when a shortage of [00:20:00] toilet paper, you know, where a toilet paper ended up in people's garages and stacks. Okay. And so, There's this scarcity leads to greed, and then you start feeling like there's an abundance.
[00:20:12] All right. Now, or a shortage. Contrast a scarcity mentality, a shortage mentality with the opposite, with an abundance mentality, an abundance mentality says I got nothing to worry about. There's plenty of that to go around. I don't need to worry about how much you have, because there's not going to cost me anything.
[00:20:28] I'm not your, your, your welfare is not at my expense and there's no risk involved here. And, and people who have an abundance mentality by the way, are people who are grateful for what they do have. Let me explain if you ever put this together. Gratitude. Okay. Gratitude is, is having a spirit that is appreciative, appreciative.
[00:20:51] I appreciate what I have. Do you know what the word appreciate means? If an investment appreciates what's it mean increases in his volume [00:21:00] increases. A grateful person is a person who is expecting things to get better. I'm not scared that I'm going to run out. I believe there's going to be more, it's going to appreciate, here's why this matters.
[00:21:12] And this is why this is so crucial. If you believe that there is a fixed amount of something, you're going to see it a certain way and how you see it is going to affect how you relate to it. And it's going to change you. All right. And I can't let you have something because it's going to come at my expense.
[00:21:29] Now, let me explain where this is very easily illustrated. When you are a parent, like the Keusts. Okay. There is a tendency to believe that we just had a child, all the love in the universe. I've invested in this one child. And every parent who gets this right, you get this, there's no possible way for us to have a second child and me to love the second child as much as I love the first child.
[00:21:56] This is very, very common. This is a psychological like dead end. [00:22:00] So, so we fear a second child because I can't love them as much as, and the first kid, if they could talk, they would go, wait a minute. This is a threat. I'm going to lose something here. Except if you're a parent, you understand this kind of mystery of the universe, that somehow from somewhere, this incredible resource becomes a vailable and you go, I don't know where the Love's come from, but I love them both.
[00:22:23] And I love them with all my heart. And if you have a third, you're going to love the third. Lisa and I have two kids, Jeremy and Amy. We love him with all of our heart. And you go, you can't love with --yeah we do. I don't know how. It's not a zero sum game. If I love my son, it doesn't come at the expense of my daughter.
[00:22:39] If I love my daughters, love the expense of my son. And then they have, we have eight grandkids. Well, I love our grandkids, which one do you love the most. None of them! Love them all the most. No, no one. There you go. Whoa. It's not possible. It's a zero sum. If we think if there's a pie and you start cutting it, eight ways, you can't, you can't add a ninth because then somebody's [00:23:00] going to lose.
[00:23:00] This is scarcity mindset. And I'm just telling you folks, it's contrary to the way that God works. You look at me right here. This is why this is so important. Look at me, please look at me. The essence of Christianity is generosity. The essence of it is all built on generated incredibly generous thing that Jesus Christ chose to do.
[00:23:23] You get this wrong? Nothing's going to work. Nothing's going to make any sense. So we go, okay. All right, then let me, let me say this. The virtue of generosity is one of the highest, the virtuous. The characteristic of being generous is so highly exalted in the scriptures. Why? Because that's the essence of who God is and God's going.
[00:23:46] I want you to be, my children wants you to grow up. Why then do we have the reaction? Some of us have already had in this message. Okay. I don't know who. Some of us, when I said we're going to talk about generosity. We go. Can't believe I came to church today. [00:24:00] Of all the stupid days for me to decide to show up at church.
[00:24:04] So when we heard generosity, we cross our arms and we get cynical. Why? We think it's going to cost us something we're we're going to lose something. We think that if I'm generous, I'm going to go without. Because we have a zero sum mindset if I have it and I give it, I can't have it. What if, and here's a big idea.
[00:24:25] What if God set the universe up in such a way that those who are generous are actually the ones he blesses the most? What if this is so counterintuitive to the nature of the world, in which we live, that God is waiting to blow our minds to show us something that, that, that no one who doesn't walk with him would ever understand.
[00:24:47] What if, what if giving is actually the way to gain? So, so the series is called free to give, gaining by giving. What if by giving you actually came out ahead, you go, that's ridiculous. That would be a freaky [00:25:00] paradox. Like God doesn't ever work in paradoxes. Well, except Jesus said, the first will be last.
[00:25:10] We understand the way up is down. If you want to get ahead, get behind. He who dies is he who lives like so many other paradoxes in scripture? What if, cause this is mind blowing. If you get your brain around this, what if gaining by giving is not the paradox? What if the way we've learned it by the world we live, that's the paradox and it's screwy.
[00:25:38] Like, no, no, you. You, you will never gain by, by keeping. See what, what if the world has taught us wrong in God's coming along going, look, I just want to show you this. What is the way to get ahead is actually to put other people ahead of you. Now I know this again. We're cynical. I get it. Okay. Well, because we live in a world that goes that's ridiculous, but yet even [00:26:00] like read scripture and just go.
[00:26:01] Hmm. Like, well, Paul was quoting Jesus once and, and he said this. Remembering the words, the Lord Jesus himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive. What, what do you mean? Oh no. If you want, you really want to get, you got to give, but yeah sure he doesn't even know what he's talking about.
[00:26:20] It's ridiculous. Absurd. What if Jesus didn't know what he was talking about? Proverbs 11:24 says one person gives freely yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Do you understand what he's saying? This isn't what you think, man.
[00:26:39] You want to get ahead, learn how to give. You want you want to, you want to gain. Learn to give is crazy. It's just crazy. It's kept for some consistent second Corinthians nine. Now he who supplies, seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store seed. And will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
[00:26:58] You will be enriched [00:27:00] in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. Okay. Like, so if you really want to have a bigger harvest, you've got to, you've got to learn how to plant seed and you gotta be crazy generous. And, and again, we just go, all right, I'm not getting it.
[00:27:16] Is it possible folks that God wants to bless your life for the sake of you becoming something you're not. And that would be that you become generous. I'm not saying you're not generous, but could that be the motive that God's are doing here? He's trying to teach us something because if the goal is to become like him and all of Christianity is based on the generosity of God, maybe what he's doing is really, I'm just gonna, I'm not gonna let up, I'm going to keep teaching and teaching and teaching.
[00:27:43] Okay. Now, look, I don't have a lot of time left, but I got two things I want to say about generosity that I think are really, really important. Okay. So bear with me. These two are really, really important. Okay. I want to say two things, generosity isn't and, and we'll call that a day. All right. And then we'll pick it up next week.
[00:27:58] So first thing [00:28:00] generosity is isn't generosity isn't about money? Not, no, we it's really not. It's not about money. I stay with me. Okay. Because a lot of us say I'm good, because I don't have any money. Generosity isn't about money. It's not about size of your bank account. It's not. It's about the size of your faith.
[00:28:22] It's about the size of your heart. It's not about the size of your bank account because what people love to say. There's. If I were rich, I would, if I won the lottery. And, and here's what I could tell you. If you won the lottery, you would give no more generously than you give right now. And whatever you do have, in fact, truth, be known.
[00:28:41] You know, what they know about us about us is the more money we make, the less generous we've become. They've tracked it. It's really sad. It's a sad statement about us. The less you have, the more generous you are, the more you get, the less you give. So let's be really clear. It's not about money. I mean, come [00:29:00] on because I'd be generous if I had.
[00:29:02] But we, we don't have, you know, it's it's a funny thing. When I was growing up in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, we had a phrase. It wasn't a compliment by any means when a horrible pejorative thing to say to somebody, but if somebody were playing basketball and the guy would never pass the ball, we would say, stop being, Hey, a hog stop being a hog.
[00:29:27] You're a ball hog. Okay. Can I just point out it's not a good thing to be called a hog. Now, if you have a pet hog, no, no harm meant, okay. Kiss your hog. Do what you do, right. I'm not trying to put your hog down, but do you understand? We have a particular animal. We stingy people are called hogs. People who don't give, who have no generosity are called hogs.
[00:29:49] Why are they called hogs? Why don't we pick the hog word? Why don't we say there's something you're a horse. Because I think about this, a horse, it [00:30:00] can be ridden, it contributes something you you're quit being a cow. A cow gives! A cow gives milk. Quit being such a sheep, a sheep gives wool. Quit being such an ox.
[00:30:14] An ox can pull. Quit being such a dog. A dog can guard a house. What does a hog do?
[00:30:21] Nothing! Can't do anything. Ride a hog. Nuh-uh You can't do those things that have nothing to do with it. Listen, listen, listen, don't miss it. Don't miss it. You know, when we say quit being a hog, because the only benefit of hog ever contributes as against us will after it's dead, bacon is awesome, but it won't give you any on its own. It won't a cow.
[00:30:48] If you want up with a pail and a gun, the cop would go put the gun down. Okay. Put the gun down. We're good. Just do your thing. Get your milk. And you're good. No hogs going. You'd have to kill me before I give you anything, [00:31:00] quit being such a hog. Not about the money. It's about the heart. Second thing it's not about.
[00:31:06] Okay. And this, I got, I got to park here for just a moment cause this one is huge. And I'm going to, I'm going to share my heart of hearts about this. Generosity is not about tithing. And I gotta, I gotta park on this for just a second. Cause I, I gotta make this make sense. Let me just real quickly give you a crash.
[00:31:24] What's a tithe. The tithe is a 10th. What's a 10th? A tithe is a 10th of whatever it is you have that you set apart the word tithe means a 10th. Okay, now hang on. Hang on. Okay. So. Tithing in the old Testament began way, way back when Abraham was given a victory and he had all these spoils and he wanted to honor God.
[00:31:43] And so he offered up to a priest of God, a 10th, and he said, this is just to say, thank you to God. Now what happened is the tithe then became part of the old Testament, covenant, a part of the old Testament law. And so it became like, you have to do this thing. All right. [00:32:00] So today at what a lot of people say is that we're in the new covenant.
[00:32:03] And so the old covenant doesn't apply, but I want to challenge this. I want to challenge you to think about this. All right. Cause I, I got to tell you, I don't agree with that and I need you to understand something I tithe. All right. Listen, I tithe. I unashamed just going to tell you that. And what I need you to understand my tithing, our tithing has nothing to do with the old Testament law.
[00:32:29] It has nothing to do with the old Testament covenant. Our tithing has everything to do with our worship of God. It's a worship of God, because if you read the old Testament, you discover a principle and I don't believe this principal ever went out to vogue. The principle is simply this the first and the best always belong to God the first and the best from the very beginning to now the first
[00:32:53] and the last. That's what Abraham understood the first and the best that's God's. So in a very real sense, they say, this is not about generosity [00:33:00] because I don't give a tithe. I bring a tithe, I bring God's 10th and that is what. I didn't do anything. I'm just being faithful to the worship and the principal. You go, what do you mean the first and the best it's called the first fruits.
[00:33:20] And again, if I had time, I'd go into more detail on this. I don't have time. Here's what you need to understand the first and the best always belong to God. God's going to give the people, the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey and Joshua was going to lead them. They're going to cross the Jordan and they're going to take it, but there's a battle to be fought.
[00:33:35] What's the battle? Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. There you go. Anyway. Joshua fought the battle, fought the battle of Jericho. Okay. First battle. What did God say about that? You remember not a single item of plunder is to go to you all. It's to come to me, that's what God [00:34:00] told them. That's actually everything in that city.
[00:34:03] And there was one guy and a guy named Aiken that broke the covenant and all kinds of bad things happened to him. Everything inside that city. First battle. First victory. Plunder goes to God, God gets the first God gets the best. My friend Barry Cameron says it this way, the tithe belongs to God. It's the first fruits we don't get to divert it, divide it or direct it.
[00:34:25] It belongs to God. I don't give a tithe. I simply bring a tithe and it's not an act of generosity. By the way. I believe the church is the storehouse of the old Testament. I believe that. We give our tithe. We give it to the leaders of the church that we attend and the leadership make the decision about where that I don't, I don't give a, I don't, I don't bring a tithe, then they say, and I want this to, and I don't want this.
[00:34:51] When I'm with a C, see in the Bible is tithes and offerings. What's an offering an offering begins at the end of a tithe. So, so I [00:35:00] can direct an offering. Lisa and I want to buy this. And Lisa and I want to provide that. And this one, I want to help these people. We can direct our offerings, but not our tithe. Our tithe is that that's out of our hands.
[00:35:13] W w w why in the world am I supposed to give a tithe, bring a tithe to the ministry. And one guy came up to Wayne Smith who was a preacher of the last century, last century, and a great guy. And they said, wait, are you telling me if I don't tithe I'm going to go to hell and Wayne said he goes, no, you probably won't, but somebody probably will.
[00:35:35] Because that's what the tithe is used for. It's a benefit of everybody else, but it's not generosity. It is about being faithful to what God said. And that's why I would tell you this. The tithe is not the ceiling. It's the floor. It's not the finish line. It's the beginning point. Now again, I know some of you are skeptical.
[00:35:53] I get to just process it. All right. Just process it. Now let me. [00:36:00] Let me, let me, I'm going to share some, I wrote this all right. I don't ever put a quote up on my own. I don't ever do that. I'm not going to put a quote up this time. I'm going to tell you something that I sat down as I was praying through this message.
[00:36:10] And I wrote this little sentence out, I believe, and this straight from my heart, I believe with all my heart, the key to the incredible blessings God has to bestowed in my life has a direct correlation to the time I began to trust him and obey him in tithing and then learning to give beyond. I could not in good conscience, advise anyone to do otherwise.
[00:36:35] And I won't. I refuse you can do whatever you think you want to do. That's on you. I, there's no way I could look you in the eye and go. I think that's a good idea. I don't, I don't think it's a good idea at all. I believe God meant when he said in Proverbs 9, this one will pop up. Honor the Lord with your wealth.
[00:36:52] With the first fruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing and your vats will brim over with new wine. [00:37:00] I believe God blesses this. I just do. It's the core of who I am. Mark Batterson, who is a friend of our church, a personal friend, but a friend of our church. He's been here and spoken.
[00:37:09] He's a pastor in Washington, DC. He wrote this. He has words are so much more eloquent than anything I could write. This is what he said. Listen to these words. I cannot prove this quantitatively, but I know it's true. The more you give away, the more you will enjoy what you have. If you give God that tithe you'll enjoy the 90% you keep.
[00:37:29] 10% more. You'll also discover that God can do more with 90% than you can do with a hundred percent. Most of us spend our lives accumulating the wrong things we bought into the consumerist lie. That more is more, but in God's upside down, economy, our logic is backward. You ultimately lose whatever you keep and you ultimately keep whatever you lose for the cause of Christ.
[00:37:56] I I'm telling you everything within me. I agree with Mark. I've [00:38:00] lived it I've experienced it. I can't explain it. I can't prove it. I'm just telling you this is it. God, somehow set the universe up in an inverse thing to what we think. So I'm going to close this message. I'm gonna tell you a real quick story.
[00:38:13] There is a begger a lame, a lame blind beggar in India who just sat around, had a little, little bowl of rice, a little few kernels of rice in the bowl. And he would just beg, he would just beg the place where he begged was not a popular place of traffic with no tourists. So got very little and the people of the city were not rich by any means.
[00:38:37] So he, he barely subs subsisted there. And then one day as he was just sitting there begging getting very little response, he heard off in the distance, the thunderous kind of sound of a chariot coming. And he began to ask, what is that? He said, it's the Maharajah, it's the King he's coming, he's coming this way.
[00:38:55] And the guy got all excited because word had got around that the Maharajah was an incredibly [00:39:00] generous benevolent King and he goes, he's going to bless me. He's going to bless me. And so he got all excited. As he got closer, he got closer in the chair, it stopped right in front of him and the Maharajah sure enough stepped down and he walks towards him and the guy cannot believe his good fortune.
[00:39:13] He is literally in the presence of the Maharajah. And he says, bless me, bless me. And the King said how much rice do you have?
[00:39:26] Give me your rice. He goes, what? Give me your rice and the guys snap that quick. He goes, I cannot believe you who have so much. I have so little. And you're asking me to give you the little I've got and he and a scowl came over his face, and he's just got just ugly in this face contort and he spit on ground.
[00:39:49] He says, you want my rice? And he picked a kernel, threw it at the guy skinny, probably missed, but they threw another one. The guy goes, is that all he goes, that's all. Couldn't believe how [00:40:00] stingy the Maharaja was. I think he was okay. We're done. Oh, just go away. So the guy drives off and then the guy goes back to his bowl.
[00:40:10] Like, I can't believe how selfish that guy is. You've got so much. I've got so little. So he went him back at his bowl and all of a sudden he felt something a little bit different. It felt something hard and it had edges and it was rough. And he began to realize the, what the Maharajah had done is replaced the kernels of rice.
[00:40:31] He threw with nuggets of gold, and then he realized much to his shame when an incredible fool he had been folks. The essence of generosity is about the willingness to trust God to provide. And I'm telling you as your pastor, I am going to use every ounce of passion within me to convince you that you gain by giving you do not [00:41:00] lose.
[00:41:01] I'll pick this up next week. Let me pray. And then on each of our campuses, our campus pastor will come up and close out the service. So God, again, hard to, hard to believe hard to get our brain around. We're so quick to think differently. And we're so afraid right now that we're going to run out God. What if, what if that's the way the world works?
[00:41:21] That's not the way the kingdom works. God, this could be the greatest year of our life to put things in perspective to get it right. To reorganize and realign our values and Lord, I pray for each and every one of us to be able and willing to do that. Bless us father, as we trust you, if we trust you, generosity will no longer be an issue in Jesus' name
[00:41:41] we pray. Amen. And thank you all very much for being here. All right.