Living Generously

Monday 7 July: Steve Morris led a seminar at the New Wine Ireland Sligo Summer Conference 2014.  Here's a summary of what he had to say (avoiding spoilers for his message later in the week!).

What is your story? 

One day you will hear a story that will fundamentally change the direction of your life. What do you really care about?  The beginning of leadership is a complaint.  .  What area of injustice, or poverty, or the church gives you cause for complaint?

Model what you want to see. 

When we go "all in, things start to happen.  But it all starts with us!  Too often we wait for other people ("rich" people) to empty their bank accounts.  Are we willing to start with our own?

We have been lavishly and generously saved.

Grace is so rich and lavish.  We have to start with the Gospel.  We have to begin here because that is the foundation of this.  You are phenomenally and lavishly saved. 

Jesus through whom and for whom the world was created, who flung stars into space, who orchestrated every single created thing we see around us, that same God came down from heaven to earth and died on a cross and rose again.  That is lavish, generous and abundant, beyond what we can imagine!  We have a foundation of grace because everything we do comes from a response to that!

Living generously flows from God's grace - once you love God, you will love others.  Loving others results in generosity in time, money and attention. Living generously doesn’t earn the love of God… it is an outworking of the love of God that is already poured out in our lives.

It is not just money!

People give their hearts, their expertise, their time, their prayer and their money.  We can pray about the money! Generosity starts with inclining our hearts towards a need. 

How can you generously bless your community? 

Too often the church is known for asking but not for giving!  Why not help out someone who can't pay their mortgage because they have lost their job?  

Imagine how much we will make people smile.  Let us be generous towards our community.   Think creatively and try to bless them.  

In East London, we love fried chicken.  One Christmas we decided we wanted to bless the teens in our youth club (members of street gangs). We decided to do a mass order of chicken and chips… 150 portions!!  Blow the budget.  There was an abundance of chips and abundance of chicken…The boys were not used to this.  It was a feast and we laughed!  There was nothing to fight about because everyone had enough.  

That is where the kingdom of God breaks out.  I would rather be a church known for an abundance of chicken and chips than as a church that is always asking for money.  

Am I generous? 

It will take time, money and passion.  Think of areas where you can be off-the-wall generous.

When you borrow somebody’s car, fill it right up with petrol.  Just bless them because it is fun.  It will prove to you that money isn’t an idol in your life.  There is something more important.  When people come to your house, give generous hospitality.

Let us be known as those who go the extra mile.  Let us model generosity. I’d rather make mistakes trying than never ever try. When we don’t have reserves is when we need to give more!  It will force us onto our knees.

What does the money say about money?

We need to have a good theology about money. 

  • When Jesus says, “the poor will always be with you,” he was talking to Judas who was stealing from the communal purse!   
  • You cannot serve both God and money.
  • Money can be an idol - we think that money will provide us with security and happiness.  In those cases, our faith is not in God.  Concern about providing for our families is a good thing but it is not a God thing.
  • The parable of the rich fool - People are living with a retirement mentality.  They are working hard in order to reach a future goal but in order to reach that goal, they often destroy everything in their lives that would make that future happy!
  • Money is not evil but the love of money is!

 Travel light and keep it simple. 

This is not your home.  God gives us extravagant gifts but we need to keep it simple… get back to basics… and live a life that responds to God by using what we have.  We are entrenched in materialism .

In Acts 2 they sold their possessions and belongings and gave to those in needs and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved!  People need to see that we believe God by the way we behave.