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Loving into the Body - Part 3: The Law of Generosity

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Generosity is the Law of Christian Life

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Thesis: Generosity is the law of Christian life
Thesis: Generosity is the law of Christian life
for Kids: Card games with different rules: Go Fish vs. Uno
Me
As a young Christian I was confused about Grace
Lots of people tried to put it into short explanations that fit on bumper stickers and expect that to change my life
It made it memorable, but not very applicable
Neither God, nor any of the Bible authors put God into a bumper sticker
They pointed instead to the life of Jesus, and they wrote four whole books and even more commentary and interpretation on them.
John even said:
John
John 21:25 NRSV
25 But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
We
We
Where I got tripped up often, and sometimes where we get confused is the idea of who and what grace involves.
Grace is not all about God.
If we did not exist, there would be no need or existence of Grace.
Grace takes at least two people.
God’s saving grace, involves more than one act as well. It involves at least 3.
We sin and hurt or offend God
God forgives us and offers us relationship again
We receive that restored relationship
So Grace involves us, and the whole story of grace involves us doing things wrong initially and the receiving things right at the end.
Nowhere in this are we in charge or control of grace. God always initiates it, but it always calls for a response from us.
God’s grace is like the Sun, and we, like the moon can either choose to reflect God’s light or block it.
Either was, the world will know God’s grace and we will either shine with him or be a big black spot in the beautiful sky He created.
How do we live in that grace daily?
God
11 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4 But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.a
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a sluggish spirit,
Romans 11:1–10 NRSV
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4 But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, “God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” 9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent.”
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and keep their backs forever bent.”
Paul compared to Elijah.
Scripture paraphrases - Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and then Psalms
Who are the elect that Paul is referring to?
There have always been people invited into God's Kingdom, but not everyone chose or chooses to take Him up on that offer.
What holds them back?
The notion that they either deserve it or could never earn it themselves.
It is too close for them to appreciate
The way that we do not consider fresh water or sunlight a gift from God until the day comes that it is taken away from us.
How did you accept that invitation?
Jewish faith was not an accident of birth
You lived out the law.
It was more than just words, saying you believed certain things
You were judged by your actions
A strange example from the life of Moses - on the way to Egypt to be God’s prophet...
The New Revised Standard Version Moses Returns to Egypt

24 On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD met him and tried to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

- Rahab
Exodus 4:24–26 NRSV
24 On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”
Exodus
- Ruth
- wives of Solomon
The crowd and tapestry weaving
List of adopted Jews:
- warp (Jews) and woof (Gentiles)
List of adopted Jews:
The wife and child of Moses (plus his in-laws)
Rahab
Ruth
Most of the Wives of King Solomon
The “crowd” that gathered with the Hebrew Slaves fleeing Egypt.
Exodus 12:37–38 NRSV
37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds.
The crowd and tapestry weaving
Rahab
Ruth
wives of Solomon
The crowd and tapestry weaving
warp (Jews) and woof (Gentiles)
Warp sets the boundaries and woof fills it in
In other words, the warp holds the woof in place
In a tapestry, it is the woof, in all its color and glory that makes the pictures and the warp that holds that story up.
Leviticus 13:47–59 NRSV
47 Concerning clothing: when a leprous disease appears in it, in woolen or linen cloth, 48 in warp or woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin, 49 if the disease shows greenish or reddish in the garment, whether in warp or woof or in skin or in anything made of skin, it is a leprous disease and shall be shown to the priest. 50 The priest shall examine the disease, and put the diseased article aside for seven days. 51 He shall examine the disease on the seventh day. If the disease has spread in the cloth, in warp or woof, or in the skin, whatever be the use of the skin, this is a spreading leprous disease; it is unclean. 52 He shall burn the clothing, whether diseased in warp or woof, woolen or linen, or anything of skin, for it is a spreading leprous disease; it shall be burned in fire. 53 If the priest makes an examination, and the disease has not spread in the clothing, in warp or woof or in anything of skin, 54 the priest shall command them to wash the article in which the disease appears, and he shall put it aside seven days more. 55 The priest shall examine the diseased article after it has been washed. If the diseased spot has not changed color, though the disease has not spread, it is unclean; you shall burn it in fire, whether the leprous spot is on the inside or on the outside. 56 If the priest makes an examination, and the disease has abated after it is washed, he shall tear the spot out of the cloth, in warp or woof, or out of skin. 57 If it appears again in the garment, in warp or woof, or in anything of skin, it is spreading; you shall burn with fire that in which the disease appears. 58 But the cloth, warp or woof, or anything of skin from which the disease disappears when you have washed it, shall then be washed a second time, and it shall be clean. 59 This is the ritual for a leprous disease in a cloth of wool or linen, either in warp or woof, or in anything of skin, to decide whether it is clean or unclean.

Are you part of the warp or woof in God’s kingdom?

The Salvation of the Gentiles
Romans 11:11–24 NRSV
11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14 in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.
Romans 11:11-
Moses used the image of woven cloth
Paul uses the image of an olive tree
Something living
Something that is supposed to bear fruit
Paul was writing to the first generations of Christians, when Gentiles were not even raised in Jewish ways, let alone according to Christ’s values. Now, almost 2000 years later I think we could read this in light of those raised in Christian families and those who were raised outside the Church and only entered in later. I believe the principles are the same here.
There is probably not enough Jewish DNA among us for us avoid us all being labeled as Gentiles.
Christian families and communities have taken on the same role that the Jews held in the Bible
It’s why we can often see some of those Jewish traits (Law-abiding Pharisees, Liberal Sadducees, Mystic Essenes, Political Zealots, etc.) in ourselves and in the Christians around us.
Those of us brought up as Christians can get removed from the tree of life if we do not bear fruit and those of us who were raised outside the faith can be put in our place.
They can also be removed and former Christians restored to a place on the tree.
It might not be the same place, but we all have the same task of bearing fruit for God.
11 So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14 in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16 If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.g 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And even those of Israel,h if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.
So then, what is this fruit that we are supposed to show as Christians?
Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control
Last week we talked about Kindness meaning being useful to God
Goodness (sometimes translated Generosity) is another rare word that most literally translated would mean “the stuff of Good”
That is really ambiguous and could mean anything
But we have a saying in the Church, that God is Good, All the time, and All the time, God is Good.
When we talk about seeing God at work, we are not literally seeing God’s form, we are seeing the fruit of Him being Good.
We recognize that we see that Good stuff God does even in people and places that do not deserve it or even ask for it.
We call that Grace
When it is done without us asking it is called prevenient grace - the grace that goes ahead and prepares the way.
That is the kind of goodness that is unique to our God, who blesses people before they even know Him.
That is the kind of goodness that God wants us to give as well.
Not just goodness when we are asked.
Goodness, Generosity, that touches those who aren’t even aware of us.
One example of this even before Jesus came and talked about loving neighbors was, in the Old Testament, it was a Law that you had to leave the edges of your fields, gardens, whatever food you grew, for the poor, and specifically the widows, orphans, and immigrants.
By today’s standards, that would not mean giving the poor a portion of your paycheck. It would be more like making it a law that you had to leave your doors unlocked so the poor could come get in your fridge or pantry if they were hungry. You had to let them on your property. It forced Israel to get to know their own poor by name and face.
Those who broke that law of generosity were breaking the law of God, and if they did not repent, they were cast out of the people of Israel.
Did they always obey?
No. They like us, looked for every way around these laws.
But when God came to them hungry and thirsty, they didn’t recognize Him and turned Him away.
When He reminded them of the law, they crucified Him.
Those branches were broken off and new branches were grafted in, new warp in the tapestry to hold up the woof.
But God brought goodness even out of their ungenerosity.
When the Church was too afraid to leave Jerusalem and make disciples of the world, God used those who gave up their place in God’s Kingdom to chase the church out to the rest of the world.
Our stubborn, hard hearts, cannot stop God’s grace from transforming the world.
You.
Funerals - finding scripture that speaks from the lives of all people
If you were to die today, what scripture would your life have presented to the world?
Would it be an example of God’s goodness, His generosity flowing through you?
Or would it be an example of how patient and forgiving God was in spite of how you lived?
God’s plans will be accomplished, whether we are for Him or against Him.
Romans 11:25–36 NRSV
25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28 As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. 33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Romans
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters,i I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
“Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
27“And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”
28 As regards the gospel they are enemies of Godj for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may nowk receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35“Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
https://ref.ly/Ro11.25-36;nrsv
We
It is all a gift. Salvation, Forgiveness, Redemption, and the opportunity to be adopted into God’s Kingdom.
But if we get saved into the family of salvation, then our purpose for staying there is to make room and work with God in making a way for the next person to get saved, forgiven, redeemed, and adopted in.
Is God working His goodness through us?
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