G2 Living: Gospel Generosity – Week 3 – Greedy, Grumpy and Grateful
What is the Gospel?
Jesus Did it all, is doing it all and will not stop until it is complete.
Whatever God does to you, he also plans to do through you.
Two weeks ago, we began a new series: We learned that one of the disciplines the early church devoted themselves to was generosity, they devoted themselves to caring for one another and thier needs.
We learned that their world view was altered by the truth of the Gospel, that they understood that they didn’t own anything and that God would supply as they were conduits of His blessing.
River not a reservoir.
Opposite of Generosity is worry – The antidote for worry is Generosity.
Gospel + Action = Blessing
Generosity is an overflow of what we are given, God is always the initiator.
God does not want your money, He wants your Heart.
Today’s title is Greedy Grumpy and Grateful. No that is not 3 of the 7 dwarfs. Today we are going to look at 3 profiles in the New testament about generosity. We will learn that attitude (our heart disposition) what God looks at when it comes to being generous. Generosity is a heart thing not a money thing. In fact, next week Matt is going to apply the principle of generosity to a totally different area of our lives. I can’t wait!
Greedy – Pharisees
20:45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples,46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
21:1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Jesus does not look at the dollar amount he looks at the sacrifice. He honors the small over the large. Why? Because of the attitude it was given in. Jesus tells us that their hearts were not looking toward God they were looking at self. We can give and not be generous, but we cannot be generous and not give. Generosity always costs something. God’s Generosity cost something. If it cost Him, we must understand it will cost us. But the Gospel says that it will never cost us more that what He gives to us. He is the Source, He is the power, HE is the reward!
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
Just as generosity is not about money, neither is greed. You can be dirt poor and still be greedy, You can be rich and be greedy. But you can be poor and be generous, and you can be rich and be generous. Because generosity and greed are about the heart, not about the resource.
Grumpy – Rich Young Ruler
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
This man in parallel passages we are told is young (Matthew 19:22
) and that He has influence, he is a ruler. (Luke 18:18
) We also see in all 3 of the accounts he is rich. in fact in Luke’s account it says he is “VERY WEALTHY” You see in Jesus’ day if you were rich it was seen as a sign of God’s blessing in your life. That God must love you more because you are rich. We can fall into this same trap today can’t we? Well they don’t have any problems, God must love them more than me. In fact, that is what made Jesus’ first sermon so radical.
– Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This man is coming to Jesus and asking the wrong question He is asking what he can do not what God has done. He is going into the whole situation rich in wealth but not poor in Spirit. So Jesus gives him a clue to open up his heart.
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
In essence He is revealing who He is. He reminds this man that there is no one worthy of worship but God alone. And he points to the goodness of God in the same statement. He starts off with the good news. God can be trusted. God is Good! Then Jesus turns Him over to the thing He is worshiping (not God) to reveal how futile it is to trust in those things.
19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
This man returns to what he has always trusted in. His ability, His sufficiency.
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus loves Him. He is pleading with this ma to turn away form his idol but he knows that this man’s heart, This mans desire to follow Jesus is being blocked by his wealth.
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
This man walks away from Jesus the provider and sustainer of life because he can’t let go of his stuff.
Now I have heard many explanations of this phrase “camel through the eye of a needle”. Many people try and explain this idea away. some people have said that Jesus was referring to a gate in Jerusalem at was so small that it meant camels had to crawl on their knees to make it in the gate. But I think Jesus is using this phrase as a point of hyperbole. An exaggerated statement to But I think Jesus knew exactly what he was saying. And His disciples got it too. This is why there reaction was amazement. Twice it says they were amazed. Then Jesus points to the truth of this situation. “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” This is true on several levels. This man was trusting something else for His right standing with God. His ability to so the right thing. Jesus says that this is impossible in our strength. But I also think that it also applies to the idea we have been been taking about as well. Generosity apart of God is impossible. Now don’t miss what I am saying. I know there are many people out in the world that do things that look generous, but It is always based on what they will receive. Even if that thing that they receive is just “the feeling that they have done something good.” It has been said that Generosity is the lack of self. I have know selfish people in my life. They are never happy. in fact they are most times very grumpy people.
Jesus was holding out to this RICH YOUNG RULER an opportunity to sense something in his life he never had before. Real true joy. Jesus wanted this man to to give away all he had, not so he would become destitute Instead Jesus was trying to show this man that true Joy could only be found in trusting in God not our possessions.
Question: What do you tend to trust in your life instead of trusting in Jesus?
Finally, Here is the last profile. Before we go too far into this story, I want us to see the parallels found in these two men. Both were rich! Both had power! But there are some differences. The Rich Young Ruler got his wealth but “being good” Zacchaeus Got His wealth from cheating people. Let’s look at His story.
Grateful – Zacchaeus
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
In Jesus’ day there was no one more hated than a tax collector. They were seen as greedy, selfish and traitors to the Jews. In fact another name for a tax collector in Jesus’ day was a publican. So whenever you see the world publican used it is always tied to the world sinner. there was no other person in Jewish society more hated. In fact in Luke 18:9-14
Jesus contrasts The Pharisees with the Tax Collectors and says that they are more righteous because they recognize their need for God. Then the next story he tells is the rich Young ruler.
3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
If we understand this scene we see Zacchaeus does several things that show what kind of a man he truly was. He is short and I am sure that the people knew who he was. No one made room for him in fact I am sure that they probably stepped in front of him to block him. They hated him. So we see him run, Jewish men did not run. It was seen as disgraceful. In the first century, however, a Middle Eastern man never — never — ran. If he were to run, he would have to hitch up his tunic so he would not trip. If he did this, it would show his bare legs. In that culture, it was humiliating and shameful for a man to show his bare legs.
If running was seen as disgraceful what do you think climbing trees was seem as? He had lost all sense of self. He was no longer concerned for anything except to be able to see Jesus. That seems strange doesn’t it. This man who had everything gave everything up to be able to be close to Jesus.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.
To go to someones house was not a light thing. When you entered into someones house it was expected that you would bless them in the name of the Lord. So for Jesus to enter into The house of this “traitor” It was seen as Jesus blessing this man and approving of Him. Do you see the Gospel in that? God does not look at what we have done or what we do as the basis for our relationship with Him. Jesus was generous to Zacchaeus, He didn’t care about loosing anything in the eyes of the people around Him by inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.
Look at Zac’s response. He welcomed Him gladly. The response to God’s generostity is gratefulness. Thanksgiving is this week and it is a time that we get to celebrate the generostity of God in our lives. We are given so much it is incredible.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
Thank God, that Jesus loved us so much that He came to us. We are all sinners and that doesn’t scare Jesus away!
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Look at Zac’s response to the Generosity of God. What God had done to Him, Now God was doing through him. Zac was beaning generous. In fact Jesus didn’t ask Him to do this, it was the natural response of a grateful heart. Think about how much he was giving up. Half of his possesions and the on top of that 4x what he had cheated people of. In effect He was declaring to Jesus I am going to go broke. The Rich Young ruler was told to give up everything and follow Jesus and he couldn’t. Zac did it voluntarily out of a grateful heart, and Jesus blesses Him.
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Son of Abraham is a significant phrase. Abraham was known as the friend of God, because he trusted God in faith, willing to give everything that he held most precious in His life. Knowing He was Jehovah Jireh. (Gen 22)
How about you today? Have you given it all to Jesus? All to Jesus I surrender? If you have today then when you take communion you can take it with a grateful heart knowing that God is a generous provider to you today. He has given everything to be in a relationship with you.
But maybe you are here today and there is an area of your life, or maybe even your whole life that you have not given to Him. That is what communion is all about. It is about celebrating the fact that Jesus gave it all for you. He wants to be in a relationship with you. I challenge you to not walk away sad today like the Rich Young Ruler, but instead to surrender everything to Him and give Him everything. He will walk with you and show you how to be grateful and thankful this Thanksgiving.
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and His people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.
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