Introduction – The Christian and Giving.
Along with sex, politics and religion, money is seldom discussed in “polite company”. This is especially true of the Church. As soon as a preacher raises the subject of money or giving the accusations begin to fly: “The Church is always asking for money!”… “You’re not interested in me, but only in my wallet!” What rubbish! The Church seldom asks for money… Pick n Pay does every time I go there, the Engen garage where I fill my car does, Joburg Power “asks” for money each month! But we’ve never charged entry on a Sunday… or asked for money before offering counselling… or charged children to attend Youth on a Friday evening. And yet it costs money to run the Church… to pay the ministers and staff… to keep the lights switched on… to make sure there are toilet rolls in the loos… that we are safe and secure when on the Church property… the list goes on and on.
Interestingly, the Bible speaks about money and possessions over 2 350 times. The subject must be important to God. 1/6th of Jesus’ teaching is about money and possessions (that’s more than He teaches on love or sin!). Must be important to Him. And so it should be important to us today too…
1. Why should we live in extravagant generosity?
First and foremost – God is extravagantly generous. Just look around at the beauty of creation. Why so many types of butterflies (almost 18 000 species)? Surely just the primary colours, and a small mix of colours, would do? For us, yes. For God, no! The astounding variety of butterflies is simply a reflection of the extravagant generosity of God.
And we see this love and generosity as God gives Jesus to live, die and be resurrected and ascended for us (John 3:16).
In addition, God pours out the Holy Spirit, so that we may live as His Family, joined together in our God’s extravagant love.
And, in the power of the Holy Spirit, I am set free to be re-created and reformed in the image of God in Christ (Romans 8:29 and 12:1-2). This means I am set free to live in extravagant generosity in God’s love! And this frees and enables the Church to be the Body of Christ in our world:
As people grow in relationship to Christ, they grow also in the practice of Extravagant Generosity offering more of themselves for the purposes of Christ and providing the resources that strengthen ministry and that help the church touch the lives of more and more people in the same way their own lives have been transformed by God.
2. How should we be giving to God?
The Bible is quite clear that our giving should be systematic and responsible. This means that it should always be:
- appropriately – we do not give God the “crumbs” left over at the end of the month; rather, we give a “first slice” of our income (2 Corinthians 9:7);
- sacrificially – to give only of our excess is an insult to the One who gave us His all; rather, we should be giving sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44);
- cheerfully – from a place of thanksgiving and celebration, not begrudgingly and reluctantly (2 Corinthians 9:7); and
- responsibly – if I am but a steward of all that God has entrusted to me, then I must make sure that my giving is responsible, and not wasted or used for purposes other than that which I gave it for. This is why Trinity is committed to full disclosure with regards to our finances.
3. What should we be giving to God?
The answer is simple – everything!
But let’s look at it under four simple headings…
- money – we deal with this one first, as it is the most important of the four, but also the simplest to get right. In the Old Testament the instruction was clear – God got the first 1/10th of everything (Malachi 3:8-10). In the New Testament the idea of the tithe is taken as a starting point: our giving must be proportional, sacrificial and cheerful (1 Corinthians 16:2);
- time – I need to be a good steward of my time, making sure that I live as God-centred as I can (Psalm 90:12), giving God a fair proportion of my time each day and week;
- talents – God has gifted each one of us with certain talents and abilities; we need to offer those back to God in joyful acknowledgement of His extravagance in our lives (Matthew 25:21 & 23); and
- possessions – my “stuff”, too, is a gift from God, and needs to be used wisely, so that His kingdom may continue to grow in our lives, and through our lives (Matthew 5:13-16).
Conclusion – extravagant generosity
In Mark 14:1-9 we read of a woman, deeply touched by Jesus, who gave sacrificially in an act of extravagant generosity:
- she brought an expensive jar of perfume and broke it open – no chance of keeping some for herself or to sell;
- she poured it over Jesus’ head, anointing Him as King, and preparing Him for His burial;
- this act of generosity not only ministered to Jesus, but to everyone in the house as the fragrance wafted through each room; and
- her sacrificial act is remembered wherever the Good News of Jesus is preached!
Touched by the extravagant generosity of a loving God, what a privilege and an honour to live like him!
(To have a link to or insert all the sermons from the series here)
 How God made the world, whether through an evolutionary process lasting 15,4 million years, or a shorter “six day” process lasting 15 000 years, is not the subject of this short paper.
 Robert Schnase, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007), pg 108.