Paul said, "...I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Of course he was talking about the physical marks of suffering and persecution which identified him with his Lord. But tonight I want us to once again consider the fact that our lives ought to be marked for the Lord. Not physically, but spiritually! There should be some characteristics in our lives that will identify us as Bible believing Baptists.
Several years ago one of Brandon's teachers talked with me and told me that she had called on him to pray and that he prayed just like I did, and that amazed her. For the past couple of years ago we have brought in photographs of the men who served in the military. The first year we brought in my bootcamp photo when I was 17 years old. A great number of folks said that my picture looked just like Ben. That shouldn't surprise us. These are my sons. They ought to possess certain characteristics of their father. And we as children of God ought to possess certain characteristics of our Heavenly Father!
Tonight we come to look at another of the spiritual marks of a Christian. It is the mark of generosity. This is not limited to what we do with money! What we do with money is a reflection of our generosity, but generosity goes far beyond finances.
Generosity is the act of doing more than is expected of you. Can it be said of you that you are generous? If we only do the minimum, or if we only do that which we are expected to do, then we do not exhibit the characteristic of generosity.
I. Biblical Examples of Generosity.
A. The Apostle Paul.
1. Before he was saved, he was a strict Pharisee caring for no one but himself.
2. After he met Jesus, his heart was opened to all men.
3. He ministered to all classes, he was at home in the marketplace or in the majestic palace of the king.
4. In one city the people rejected him and the message he preached to the point that they stoned him and left him for dead. (Ac. 14:19)
5. But he went back to those people and ministered to them.
6. Paul said that he was "...made all things to all men..." 1Co. 9:22
7. Paul went beyond what was expected of him and displayed a generous attitude of service to others.
B. The Good Samaritan.
1. We are all familiar with the story told by our Lord.
2. Here is a Jew who had been attacked and left wounded along the roadside.
3. The religionists of the day observed him in his condition and saw no need to go out of their way to help him.
4. But a Samaritan (they were known for their hatred of the Jews and in return the Jews hated them) came by and ministered to the needs of this hurting man.
5. He put aside any cultural differences and in a spirit of generosity took care of this man.
6. He certainly went beyond what was expected of him.
C. Jesus, once again our great example.
1. There was no prejudice in Him.
2. He looked with love upon Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, bond or free alike.
3. He saw their needs and responded to them.
4. A sinful woman cried out for help, others would have stoned her, but Jesus forgave her and set her free.
5. Throughout His ministry we see Him giving of Himself time and time again.
6. He gave His time, His life, His love, and His blood.
II. To Whom Are We To Be Generous?
A. To our friends and loved ones.
1. Sometimes we are most ungenerous to the ones we love the most.
2. The Bible tells us that the man who will not provide for his own is worse than an infidel. cf 1Ti. 5:8
3. I saw a cartoon the other day of a Pastor and his wife: the caption read, "I have an idea! How about smiling and being nice at home and being a grump at church?"
4. Have you ever known a person that would do anything for someone else, but wouldn't take the time to do anything for his family?
5. If anyone needs to see a generous spirit in us it is those we love the most!
B. To our enemies.
1. It is hard to be generous to those who have hurt us.
2. But when we learn to quickly forgive those who wrong us, we are manifesting the spirit of Christ's generosity.
3. Note: Matthew 5:44 5
A very cruel slave owner had just finished giving his Christian slave a terrible beating and in anger said, "What can your Jesus do for you now?" The slave, battered and bleeding, answered, "Master, He can give me the grace to forgive you!" That is the spirit of Christ's generosity. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do..." Luke 23:34
C. To outsiders.
1. How do we respond to others?
2. Do we go out of our way to reach them with the gospel?
3. Those who come to this church, do we make them feel welcome? Do we include them in our conversations and our plans?
4. In our love for one another let's be careful that we do not forget to be generous to those who not a part of our group!
5. We are to be generous to all men, realizing that God made them all and that Christ shed His blood for them all.
III. Why Should We Be Generous?
A. Because God has been so generous to us!
1. I do not have to expand this thought very far.
2. All we must do is stop and consider what God has done for us.
3. Where would we be if God chose to remove His hand for just one second?
B. Because we are stewards.
1. A steward is one who holds property in trust for another.
2. We are stewards of what God has blessed us with.
3. If a steward is honest he does not use this property for himself.
4. Paul said that as stewards we need to be faithful.
5. Do we exhibit generosity in our lives by faithfully sharing what God has blessed us with?
6. The differences between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are many, but tonight I want us to consider just a couple of them:
a. The Sea of Galilee is full of life and supplies a livelihood for many in that area...the Dead Sea is just that.
b. Both have a source that continually feeds them with fresh water.
c. The Sea of Galilee also has an outlet to give out again and again, but the Dead Sea has no outlet; it receives but does not give...so it is dead!
Tonight, which do you want to be? Alive and vibrant blessing many people? Or dead and literally good for nothing? The difference has to do with the spirit of generosity. When others look at our lives what do they see? They need to see Jesus! The world needs to see His reflection in our lives.