Good News + Good Deeds = Radical Results
Continuing Lessons on Generosity
What happens if I don’t? Beware of what might creep in!
Mason Jars / Have you ever heard of the phrase “Livin’ Large!” Prince William and Kate Middleton are livin’ large! Do you think Kate knows what she’s getting into? Allen & Violet Large are livin’ large after winning the $11.3 million dollar Canadian lottery on July 14. Now – what has this couple in the news isn’t that they won the lottery – it’s that they gave nearly all of it away! “Say – again Greg” They gave nearly all of it away. Folks, this retired couple went on an $11 million dollar donation spree. The Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald reported:
“They took care of family first and then began delivering donations to two pages worth of groups they had decided on, including the local fire department, churches, cemeteries, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, two hospitals, where Violet underwent her cancer treatment, and organizations that fight cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes. The list goes on and on.”[i] They kept 2% which amounts to $226,000[ii] for a rainy day. Violet is 78 and Allen is 74. She’s been undergoing chemotherapy which is why she lost all her hair. Allen very emotionally said, “That money that we won was nothing. We have each other.” Violet agreed, “What you’ve never had, you never miss.” Several people called them out of the blue asking for money which prompted Allen to say, “The money was a headache!” I can picture allot of people saying “Bring that headache on - $11.3 million would buy allot of Tylenol.”
Speaking of buying – pretend with me – hold out your hands. Someone drops into your hands a CHECK for $11.3 million dollars! What would you do with it? Would you grip it so tight – hold onto every cent or selfishly spend every dime or would you be generous like Allen & Violet? One word has dominated our time these last three weeks – GENEROSITY! And maybe you’ve been here this entire time and you’ve heard that Good News + Good Deeds = Radical Results. You’ve heard that God is a generous God and we’ve been made in his image – SO – we should be generous too. But you have reservations. You’re not sold. “Geez Greg, generosity is overrated. Honestly, what happens if I decide NOT to be generous. LET’S FIND OUT! Turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 5:3. It’s a good thing we’re not stingy at this church or we would not give away Bibles – but we’re not. We make it a priority to buy and give away Bibles. Do you need one today?
Ephesians has six chapters. The first three chapters were written to show us what it means to be united in Jesus. What we have received by trusting in Jesus Christ. We are one, blessed and made holy. We are adopted, saved by grace and literally God’s work of art created to do good for God. Chapters 4 through 6 show us what it means to be united as the church. These chapters put faith into action. If we say we love God should that not be obvious in the relationships around us – especially how one Christ follower loves another Christ follower in what we call the church. People who love God walk in love, walk in the light and walk in wisdom. Ephesians 5:3 explains in detail what walking in the light really looks like. Let’s read Ephesians 5:3-8.
According to the Apostle Paul who saw Jesus and wrote 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament – to walk in the light (which involves both truth & morality) means to exercise self control in two main life arenas – sexuality and speech! Let’s take the sexual arena first! Go back to verse 3. Paul once again uses the two English word phrase “sexual immorality” that is only one word in the Greek – “porneia.” Paul is a Jew and he’s trying to lead Gentiles to Jesus and Gentiles had a bad reputation when it comes to sex. They were out of control sexually. Men committed adultery, slept with their slave girls, committed incest, slept with prostitutes, other men and even had sacred sexual encounters in the temple and called that worship![iii] Paul said – this is what you once were but not anymore. This has to stop! I bet men in Paul’s day had the same look on their faces that men have today! Well yeah, I want to stop. I just don’t know how. Paul gives us one huge step in overcoming sexual temptation – find verse 3 again. You do what you must do. Cut off sexual temptation at its source. Eliminate what goes into your mind sexually and watch how your body will respond. No movies, books or media. Several weeks ago I went to our staff at WCC and asked them to download a software link to both their personal computer and their work computer. I then went to our elders and last Wednesday Night I went to our deacons. Please go to our website at www.westerville-christian.org Click on x3watch.
This software will monitor your computer and then send to anyone you designate as your accountability partner any questionable websites. Once every two weeks your designated accountability partner will receive an email like this – “You are receiving this email from GREG who has identified you as their accountability partner. Please see the information listed below for possible questionable websites that may have been visited over the past 4 week(s). ONLY questionable websites will be listed.”
My accountability partners are my wife and Jay Hoffman. Greg, you’re a minister – why do you need this? Are you kidding? Sexual temptation has the potential of turning Iron men into putty. Just ask King David – once he saw a naked Bathsheba he lost all sense of reasoning – his lust led him to kill an innocent man.
Paul shows us sex is one walking in the light arena – the other is our speech. Find verse 4. When sex becomes the topic of conversation, it’s interesting how quickly that conversation goes down hill. Obscenity is shameful talk. Foolish talk is stupid talk (moros – moron[iv]) and coarse joking is witty talk with a smutty intention![v] I’m all for a good joke. But when jokes are sexually suggestive most times they will crash and burn! Paul tells us emphatically – watch what comes out of your mouth!
Right now you might be wondering what’s coming out of my mouth! “Greg, I thought this message was about generosity – specifically what happens if I’m not generous!” Paul tells us - if we refuse to be generous – greed will creep in! Did you see it? Go back to verse 3.
Greed is greed. It can be sexual or financial. Our English greed is Paul’s Greek covet. To covet is to “desire to have more.” It’s “have-more-ness.”[vi] Some might call it a disease, but the Bible calls it sin! Can we go back to that $11.3 million dollar check sitting in your hand right now? What would you do with the money? There’s nothing wrong with a house, a car or traveling! But how many homes do you need to own before enough is enough? How many vehicles can you get in a garage? Unless you build a seven car garage? How many trips can you take before it dawns on you – we’ve seen enough! The greedy person always wants more – another house, another car, another trip. Is that where you are today? I’ve had a hard week Greg – a little retail therapy will do me good! Are you sure? Paul warns us in verse 5. “Idolatry is linked with greed, because the essence of idolatry is the desire to get.” [vii] If I worship my iphone as an idol – “OH GREAT Iphone!” I desire to get something out of it. By bowing down to it – I believe it will give me what I want. You can’t do that with the living God! He does what he wants. We worship him – he doesn’t worship us! A man opened his morning newspaper only to discover his own obituary – saying that he had died. He quickly called a friend and asked, "Did you see this morning’s paper?" "They say I died!" His friend replied, I saw it!" My only question is where are you calling from – heaven or hell? In one breath Paul loves to tell us how wonderful HEAVEN will be and then in the next to tell us it’s possible not to go! Paul makes it clear that greedy people won’t go to heaven. Greedy people are not free! Anyone who goes to heaven does so because they’ve been forgiven. Even from greed. Here’s the antidote for greed! Go back to verse 4.
I’ve really been thinking about this. What comes out of my mouth more – thanksgiving or complaining? Are our words encouraging or are they unwholesome? Do I complain to my wife more than I lift her up?
I love clever grandmas. Last year this one Grandma sent checks to her grandkids in the mail as Christmas gifts. That way they could buy what they want. But a problem developed – they did not take the time to say thank you to her. So this year she has a new plan. She will once again send checks, but this time they won’t be signed.[viii] You want this check – come see me and first give me a big hug and a kiss – not to mention THANK YOU! A thankful heart eliminates a greedy heart!
There’s nothing wrong with money. Truly I prefer having some money rather than no money. The problem is not the money; it’s what we allow money to become. John 13:2 says the devil prompted Judas to betray Jesus. And what did Satan use as bait? Money. He’ll tempt us to, so let’s choose to be thankful. Come to the chalkboard and write out who or what you are thankful for. .
[ii] Google Calculator
[iii] Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Volume 3, Ephesians, 329
[iv] John MacArthur, NT Commentary, Ephesians, 201
[v] Kenneth L. Boles, CP NIV Commentary, Ephesians, 298
[vi] Kenneth L. Boles, CP NIV Commentary, Ephesians, 297
[vii] Kenneth L. Boles, CP NIV Commentary, Ephesians, 299