October 29, 2017
Acts 20:35; 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 John 4:9-11,19; 2 Corinthians 9:8,11; Romans 8:32
Today we are beginning our brand new series called the good life. I’m sure that we can all imagine a scenario when we’d say, “Ah, this is the good life.” What do you picture in your mind? Imagine posting a picture on social media with the caption “Ah, the good life. #blessed.” What does that picture look like to you? What do you consider the good life? Maybe for some of us it is acquiring a lot of wealth becoming a millionaire. Then you’re living the good life.
Maybe you picture going on some big vacation with your entire family. You can see the kids playing. You and your spouse sitting there with no phones, no work, no to do lists. #blessed. Maybe it’s the ability to travel. Traveling to many different countries and seeing all the sights that this world has to offer. Experiencing other cultures. #blessed as your standing next to Eiffel Tower, the pyramids, or the Statue of Liberty.
If you were to ask me what I picture the good life to be, I’d have to say this. Anne and I living in a lake house. It’s after dinner on a summer evening. I’m out at the end of the pier fishing. Anne is sitting on the back porch reading a book only stopping to cheer loudly as I bring in big fish after big fish. No work. Just relaxing. Having everything we need and most things that we want. “Ah, the good life.” #blessed.
I think that no matter who you ask, the good life is all about us isn’t it? It’s about my experiences, what I get, what I do, what I have. I gather enough, gain enough, so that I can enjoy life. But is that how God would define the good life? If God were on Facebook, what picture would he post that would have the caption of “Ah, the good life. #blessed”? Jesus, who is God, told us how he feels about this topic, and Paul, one of the early church missionaries, reminds us of Jesus’ words in Acts 20:35.
35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
The word blessed means to be happy because of circumstances. So what picture would God post on Facebook? It’d be a picture of him giving to others, not a picture of him gaining anything. That’s what he’d consider the blessed life and happy life.
Huh. Do you see the problem? What God considers the good life and what I consider the good life don’t line up. I consider the good life to be gather enough resources that I can enjoy myself. God considers the good life to be giving enough resources so that others can enjoy themselves. In other words, God says the good life is a generous life. When my thoughts and attitudes don’t match God’s thoughts and attitudes, God doesn’t have to change, I do. So, let’s look at this generous life. Let’s take a look at where generosity comes from and how we can have a generous heart too.
The good life flows from the heart of generosity
As we observe God in nature and in the Bible, it’s easy to see what God’s heart is like. His heart is a heart of generosity. He gives and gives and gives. King Solomon, who was King David’s son, lived around 950 BC. Under King Solomon, the Jewish people built a temple for God. At the dedication of that temple, King Solomon said this…
14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
1 Chronicles 29:14
In order to make the building of the temple possible people had to donate a lot of gold and silver. And they did. In fact, everything inside the temple was coated with gold. And notice what Solomon says, “Everything comes from you, and what have given you only what comes from your hand.” Solomon knew a very important truth that everything that he had in this life comes from God. The same is true for us.
Everything that we have in this life comes from God. He is the one that generously gives us our talents and abilities; the talents to perform our jobs. He generously makes sure that we have food, that we have a house, a car and generally more than one, our phones. He generously pours out blessing after blessing on us. And for most of us, he doesn’t’ just give us a box to live in or some old beat up car, but he gives us nice things. Yes, we work hard to make the money to afford these things, but God gives us the ability to work. He continues to make our business successful. He continues to make the products that we love available.
God could easily take our health away tomorrow and we can’t work. We have to sell the house and move into a smaller one because we can’t afford it. He could make it where we have to rework our diet because we can’t afford to eat the way we are, or there is severe drought and we can’t get fresh fruit and vegetables. When there is severe drought, the cattle take a hit as well and we might not have fresh meat. But no, God continues to be generous to us. You see, the good life that we have and enjoy flows from God’s heart of generosity. But as we look at our stuff and we see the generous heart of God, it is nothing compared to the most generous gift he gave us…
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10
The most generous thing that God has ever done for you? He sent his one and only Son into the world that you might live through him. He sent Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins. What does that mean? Atone means to compensate for a wrong committed. For instance, let’s imagine that you came over to my house and parked your car in the street. We order pizza for dinner and I leave to go pick it up. But as I back out of my driveway, I back up right into your car damaging it. The payment I give you to fix your car, the compensation I give you to fix the situation, that’s me atoning for my wrong actions. It’s whatever I give to fix the situation.
You and I, and everyone in the world, have a broken relationship with God. God said, “Be holy! Love me above everything else.” But we haven’t been holy. Every day we love ourselves more than we love God as we do what we want to do and not what God wants us to do. We think, say, and do things that God doesn’t want us to do. Our relationship with God has been broken. We have hurt and wronged God. Compensation needs to happen to fix the situation. But in this case, money won’t fix the situation; neither will trying our hardest to be good. The only compensation that will fix the problem is a perfect life and death for sins. That’s the compensation to fix the problem. But that compensation package is too much for us. We can’t pay that. We can’t fix the problem because we can’t live perfectly and we certainly don’t want to die for our sins.
And that’s why God generously sent Jesus. He sent Jesus to be that payment for our sins. On the cross he paid for every last one of your sins. He paid for all the wrongs that you committed against God, everything you have ever done against God has been paid for. Jesus was your compensation to make things right with God. Your relationship with him has been fixed because Jesus was your atoning sacrifice. He was the sacrifice that compensated God for all of your wrongs. And because of Jesus, your debt against God has been forgiven.
Think of how this generosity plays out in your life every day of your life. Did you sin yesterday? Of course. I did too. Did you sin this morning? Of course. I did too. But every day God generously offers you forgiveness. Every. Single. Day. He never says, “Your sins are too big.” He never says, “You’ve cashed in more than you can handle.” No. He generously offers forgiveness after forgiveness after forgiveness. He constantly says, “Jesus compensated me for that one and that one and that one. You and I are on good terms because of Jesus.”
You want to talk about the good life! How good is it living life guilt free? Knowing that everything wrong that you’ve done has been paid for. That God isn’t angry with you. That God loves you and is happy with you. How good is it living a life where you aren’t afraid of the future because you know that Jesus rose from the dead? Because he did, so will you. Even if you die, you’ll be in heaven with God. How good is it to know that God, your heavenly Father, knows what you need and promises that he will continue to provide for your needs? All of this is because God has a generous heart and provides for all our needs. When we see God’s generous heart again and again, it has an effect on us.
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 19 We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:11,19
His generous heart changes our hearts. But notice, it starts with God. God loves us and is generous to us. It’s God’s love displayed in his generosity that changes our hearts to be generous as well. God’s love and generosity come first, then our hearts are changed to be generous toward others. And we want to be generous because we want to be like our God who has been so incredibly generous to us. And God has made us an amazing promise in 2 Corinthians 9.
8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:8,11
First, God doesn’t want us to be generous because we feel like we have. He doesn’t want us to be compelled or forced to be generous. He wants us to be cheerfully generous. But then he makes this promise to us. “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” That doesn’t mean that God will make you rich with money. But it does mean that God will give you what you need to be generous in every single occasion. And we know that. We see it right here in God’s Word, and yet it’s hard to believe isn’t it?
Sometimes we don’t want to be generous because we don’t really trust that God will continue to provide for us. At least the way we want him too. We think his generosity is going to run out. We think, “If I’m generous this time, God might not supply me with what I need. His generosity toward me might run out.” We kind of view God’s generosity like we do oil. There’s only so much of it underground and once it is gone, our cars are going to stop running and we’ll be out of luck. Unless electric cars take off.
But God’s generosity will never run out because God is eternal. His nature, who he is, is eternal. He never changes. His love and generosity will keep on going. And since he wants us to be like him; to be generous, he will continue to provide us with everything we need to be generous.
So as you take the extra time to listen to someone, know God can find you time to get your stuff done. Know that as you donate supplies to people who need it, God can fill you back up. Know that as you generously put your offering in the basket God will provide for your needs. His generous heart keeps on giving. Living a generous life is what God considers the good life. He wants you to have the joy that the good life brings so he will make sure that you can participate.
But how do we know? We know that God says the generous life is a good life. We know that God is going to provide for us as we live a generous life. But how do we know for sure? How do we take that step? Faith.
The good life flows from a heart of faith.
32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If God was willing to give up Jesus for us, if he was generous enough to take care of our greatest need, how will he not also, along with Jesus, graciously give us all things? God will take care of you. He loved you enough to send Jesus to save you from hell. If he was willing to do that, he will give you everything you need for this life.
Now we still need to be smart right? We don’t come into church on a Sunday and give all of our life savings and our whole paycheck. Not when you have a family that God has generously given you to take care of. However, as we push ourselves to be more and more generous in all areas of our life, we can know and believe that God will give us everything we need. He will provide for us because he loved us enough to save us.
The good life is a generous life. God says so. He says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. As you realize just how generous God has been to you, you can’t help but to follow in your Father’s footsteps and be generous too. So as we go into this week, consider where has God placed you in life. In what ways can you be generous this week as you strive to live the good life? May God be with you as you live generously this week and experience the good life.