The following is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, THE MASTER BUILDER: Wisdom For Today’s Apostles. Follow this link to obtain your copy of THE MASTER BUILDER today.
The early apostles had a revelation of the “Generosity of God.” When Paul was speaking to the elders of the Ephesians church, he explained the value he placed upon “giving.”
“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, but laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:33-35 NKJV
Why in Paul’s view, was it more “blessed” to give than to receive? I believe we can sum it up by saying that when we receive, we “get” something, but when we give we “become” something. What we “become” is infinitely more valuable than what we “get” in this life. Our goal is to become more like God in our attitudes and actions, and by becoming a generous person, we are becoming more like Him who is the greatest and most generous giver of all.
“For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV
It would have been great enough if God had just given us His Son to redeem us from our sins so we could escape Hell and be with Him in Heaven, but after giving us Jesus, he freely gave us “all things.”
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Paul told the Ephesians that God was not just “merciful,” but that He was “rich in mercy.” He explains the extravagant giving heart of God, who after forgiving us our sins, “raised us up to share the Throne of His Exalted Son.” This would be like you and I appearing before a judge for a crime we were convicted of, and being totally forgiven and freed from the penalty. That would be merciful, and something to shout about, but what if the judge followed up by saying, “Now that you are forgiven, we are going to make you the Mayor of the City.” That would be a generous move toward us, and much more than we ever expected or deserved. This is what Father God has done for us, after forgiving us, He positioned us to experience the “riches of His kindness toward us in the ages to come.” “What generosity is this?”
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
We have no “earthly” idea how good it is going to get in the future with God, but I think it is safe to say that we are going to be extremely happy and content forever because of His good plans for us.
Paul knew that “generosity” was a key to the revival going on in the early church, the reason being, God shows up the strongest where the people are most like Him. Think about it, where are you the most comfortable, among strangers, or people you can relate too? We read in the Book of Acts how these people who were freshly impacted by the Life of God, and filled with the Holy Spirit were so “spontaneously” generous. They went way beyond just giving what they “didn’t need anyway,” to selling their own property and giving it to the other believers who were in need of the basic essentials of life. For this reason, there was “great grace” released in their midst and the miraculous continued to manifest. Notice in the following passages how a verse on “power” is sandwiched between two verses on “generous giving.”
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common.” And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as had possessions of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” Acts 4:32-35 NKJV
It seems that generosity was a significant theme in the minds of the apostles, and that they role modeled this virtue as the standard for the believers to follow, always looking for opportunity to commend openly those who’s practice it was to be generous. The Macedonian Christians were prime examples of people who wouldn’t be refused the opportunity to give, even out of their own deep poverty, they gave generously to help the suffering “family of God” in Jerusalem. Paul was deeply moved by their “godliness” in this regard and provided the means for their offering to taken to relieve their brothers and sisters in Christ. This great generosity was a manifestation of the “grace of God” operating in them.
Jesus commented on the generosity of a certain widow’s giving as He stood near the Temple treasury observing the giving practices of people.
“Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44 NKJV
Jesus also valued the quality of “generosity” in the lives of people during His time on earth. He defines generosity by the amount given in relation to the amount possessed. Rich people may give large amounts to charities, some for the right reasons, and others for the tax benefits they receive from the Government. God always looks at the motives behind our actions and rewards us accordingly. For this poor widow to give all she had, meant that she placed others needs above her own, she was free from the spirit of poverty, she had great faith in God to provide for her own needs.
These are the characteristics of someone with a “generous heart.” These individuals are always looking for ways to give more than is expected or even needed. We have seen the spirit of generosity in people who didn’t have much money to give, but they gave of themselves time and again with acts of service, fulfilling their own responsibilities and then doing the work that others left undone as well. This is generosity. When people are looking for ways to “withhold more than is due,” it is the “spirit of poverty” at work in their lives.
“There is one who scatters, yet increases more: And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25-26 NKJV
Paul commended the Philippians for their generosity in support of his ministry when they gave beyond what was expected, and filled up what was lacking in Paul’s needs due to the lack of giving on the part of other Macedonians. Paul gave a great prophetic word to the Philippians that was triggered by their generous giving.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek a gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:10-19 NKJV
Generosity is the result of the “love of God being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Paul expressed his deep love for the Christians at Corinth, the love of a “father” for his children which will withhold nothing in terms of the love they needed, and the form in which it would be manifested.
“Now for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be burdensome to you; for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 NKJV
This is a love that keeps on giving until there is “nothing left to give.” This is the Generous Heart of an Apostle, a life completely poured out for Christ’s Body.
What you just read is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, THE MASTER BUILDER: Wisdom For Today’s Apostles. Follow this link to obtain your copy of THE MASTER BUILDER today.