Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 5)

“Living and Giving Generously!”

2 Corinthians 8:9;  Matthew 6:19-21, 19:21-23; Titus 3:4-7; Philippians 2:5-8, 14-18 & 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
 

Good morning and welcome to your missionary training session. I’m so glad you all decided to come for missionary training. Now, before we begin, does anyone feel like they are in the wrong session? Like being in the wrong class in college or high school – “I didn’t sign up for missionary training.” No? Great, because if you signed up for Heaven with Jesus then you signed up to live eternally today, which means this missionary training is for you.

 

Let’s start out by learning from missionaries who have been in the field. Over the years, I have spent time with numerous cross-cultural missionaries and there is a dominant thread through most of them, though not all of them, and that is a generous lifestyle.

 

Missionaries are people who, in response to God’s grace in their lives, are leaving behind much of what is familiar and expected of them by their home culture so that they can go to others and give what God first gave to them. Their generosity is a lifestyle! It is about giving grace.

 

Many of the missionaries I have talked to in depth have done their work in the foreign mission field by getting to know the people and meeting them where they are. They spend a lot of time on the front porch with their neighbors, working in their neighborhood, and setting up ways that they can be generous to their new community. They are focused on building relationships.

 

Even if missionaries don’t have the financial means to be generous with money, many times they are generous with what they do have to give. They are generous with their time, their skills and talents, their home and vehicles, with their very lives. If they have money, it is simply part of the package and not the dominant part of the conversation of what it means to live and give generously.

I am talking about this because this is the most practical teaching on what a missionary does and how we can live in such a way that we will experience communities thriving to the glory of God.

 

What works for foreign missionaries works here in local missions. Here is the good news: you don’t need to go to language school or have to do the incredibly hard work of learning new cultures and customs. You just have to be willing to be as intentional here as you would be there!

 

This morning I simply want to read to you the gospels of Jesus Christ to make this point because Jesus’ whole lifestyle illustrates the point. Listen to Paul’s summary statement of Jesus’s example from 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

 

How did Jesus make us rich? Listen to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

Jesus accomplished this for us by making Himself poor. As Paul teaches in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Paul encourages us to have the same attitude as Jesus did: a willingness to empty ourselves for the sake of another. A willingness to sacrifice what we want to help another. A willingness to put aside a comfort to comfort another in the name of Jesus. Why do we do this?

 

The missionary martyr, Jim Elliot from the 1950s, is frequently quoted, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Generosity is very much about perspective. When we realize what we have been given in Christ—heavenly riches, then it becomes easier to give away what we cannot keep—worldly wealth. The more and more we focus on living eternally today, the more and more the value of things upon this earth lose their appeal. Some people argue that we can be so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good, but I would have to disagree. The more eternally minded you are, the greater you bring Heaven to earth for its good!

 

Listen to Jesus express this: In Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

In Matthew 19:21-23, Jesus is responding a man who has asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After the man says that he has kept all the commandments, Jesus demonstrates to him that he has not kept the most important commandment. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

 

Here is the mastery of what Jesus said: when you love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, you will hold nothing back from Him that He asks of you. You know you belong to God when all that you have belongs to God! Generosity begins by knowing that all that you have belongs to God and all that you have is by grace for grace.

 

Does all that you have belong to God? I encourage you to demonstrate this to God in the way you live and give generously to meet the needs of your neighbors! God will give you many an opportunity to demonstrate that you have eternal life by the way you do this. If you are not in the spiritual habit of returning to God what is already His, then you need a new perspective.

Generosity is an outflow of devotion to the God who is our all in all! We are generous to that which we are devoted to… Paul says that we should have a distinct response to Jesus becoming poor for us. Listen to Philippians 2:14-18, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”

 

Allow me to illustrate this in a simple way that works for me in my life. I say that I am willing to die for my wife because I’m that devoted to her. Don’t tell your spouse you are willing to die for them and then not be willing to die in little every day ways; like being polite, doing chores, offering forgiveness, etc. Every time you put yourself first and choose not to serve your spouse, you are demonstrating your true allegiance: to yourself and not to God! Jesus died so that we could be rich! What are the little things you need to die to daily so that you can help others be rich?

 

One last scripture to end today’s message: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.”

 

One of the best daily disciplines for the generous lifestyle is to take time every day to count your blessings! Why? Because thankful people are generous people! When you know that all that you have is from the Lord and will return to the Lord, then it would be foolish to not use the things to show others the way to Jesus.

 

So, count your blessings! And then go be a blessing. Let your generosity flow out of grace, out of the recognition that all that you have is God’s and from God’s hand. Give it back to God by living and giving generously to meet the needs of your neighbor.

 

Just remember what Christ has done for you… yet while you were still far away from God, God demonstrated His generous love to you by sending His Son Jesus Christ as the gift of all gifts so that through His poverty you could become rich!

 

Live out of the deep well spring of thankfulness for your salvation and you will find eternal life is not only a final destination, it is a way of life! You will reap what you sow in this life and into eternity. Live eternally today!
 
Listen to the message here:
 

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