Sermon Summary (5/21/17) “A life of Generosity” (Ecc 5:10; 1 Tim 6:17-19)
What make you happy? A new car? A new toy? Ten thousand dollars more? Twenty thousand? A survey of surveys, 450 thousand people, showed that above $75,000 there was very little correlation of gain with happiness. What did correlate, however, was the number of friends a person had, and their faith. Relationships and religion. So, what aspects of religion bring joy, make us believe we are living well? That’s what this sermon series I about.
Today our topic is generosity: a generosity of spirit, a generosity of wealth (our things), and a generosity of time.
A generosity of spirit has to do with relationships, how we treat people, how we are kind and gracious to them and look for the best in them; how we affirm them, value them and lift them up. Jesus’ command, what we’ve come to know as the “Royal Law,” my say it best: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We wrestle with who our neighbor is looking for an out. Jesus closes that out with the story of the Good Samaritan. We then wrestle with a definition of love, maybe best defined by Scott Peck: “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” Will—intentionality. Extend—effort. Nurture—to lift up, to affirm. Spiritual growth—aspirations, actualization. Bottom line, love is a choice; it requires intentionality and effort. It is about lifting others up. Here’s a thought: Pray that you can become the kind of person that others want to be with, to see coming because you affirm them, value them.
A generosity of wealth and spirit. If we do not have a generosity of spirit we will more than likely faith at these. Ebenezer Scrooge may be the personification of grasping. He lacked a generosity of spirit and it flowed into his concept of sharing wealth and time (read the second paragraph of Charles Dickens’ wonderful novella).
So what is required of you? The biblical guidance is the tithe but we fall way short? “Christians” in America give an average of 2.8 percent. How can we start being a person known as generous with a capital “G”? Just round up. To the next dollar or the next denomination. What would it take for your server to think that you are “G”enerous? What about God?
Time. It is our interface with others, our relationships that makes us truly human, that makes a difference in the lives of others. One volunteer shared arriving at a first grade classroom where she read finding the class in turmoil because a playmate had been taken away by social services. Her mother had been put in jail. She said being there that day had given her purpose and joy. I would suggest that her generosity of time was part of living well. Amen.