Survival Tip #8: Generosity

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 8/9/2020
Money  Proverbs  Wisdom 

When I was studying the Proverbs, I knew we had to talk about generosity. Early in this series we talked about how to “Build or Destroy Wealth.” If we carefully followed Biblical principles, we could easily eradicate poverty among God’s people within a generation. The wisdom of Proverbs isn’t just timeless, its transcultural. It works as well in one economy, as the next, because its rooted in “Divine Economics.”


This morning, however, I want to talk about Generosity in particular. There are two types of generosity mentioned in Proverbs. There is “Generosity of Spirit” and “Generosity of Money.” Let me quickly summarize what Proverbs teaches about generosity of spirit and then we’ll move to the other.


Of all people, we as God’s children, attitudinally, ought to be the happiest and more joyful of all! One of the greatest signs of grace, is humor--having a loving, light-hearted spirit. Here are a few interesting verses. Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects the face, so the heart reflects the person.” We might be able to fake behavior for a while, but we can’t fake what’s in our heart. Eventually, the content of our heart spills out across our faces! Proverbs 15:13 says, “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful, but a sad heart produces a broken spirit!”


The power of a positive spirit cannot be overstated. Proverbs 17:22, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 18:14 says, “A person's spirit can endure sickness, but who can survive a broken spirit?” A key to physical health is mental/emotional/spiritual health!


And it should be noted how our spirit profoundly affects others! Proverbs 14:10 warns, “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no outsider shares in its joy.” If you are bitter, there isn’t anyone coming to your pity party, or church service! There is even a Proverb that talks about what it’s like to be a Worship Minister. Proverbs 25:20 says, “Singing songs to a troubled heart is like taking off clothing on a cold day or like pouring vinegar on soda.” I don’t know what that means either—it’s a worship minister thing. Ask Eric! But if things aren’t right on the inside, they’re not going to be right on the outside. This could be a whole sermon series by itself.
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But the lion share of teaching in Proverbs relates to “Generosity of Money.” Now let me put you at ease. This message isn’t going to be some drive-by guilting. Lakeside is filled with generous people. There isn’t any ulterior motive here. If anything, I’m probably preaching to the choir! If you are like me, however, you can always use some inspiration and encouragement to keep on doing good!


As it relates to financial generosity, there is a “Worldly Mentality” and a “Spiritual mentality.” I would venture to say that “collectively,” Christians are some of the most generous people in the world. But I would never suggest that “only Christians” are generous. There are secular people whose generosity might put many of us to shame! It can be hard to draw firm distinctions.


In general, the worldly mentality is one of “scarcity” not “generosity.” Scarcity is this sense that “I don’t have enough for me, let alone anyone else!” In Proverbs 1:13-14 the son is being lured by his friends to get rich quick! “Come with us” they plead. “We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder. Throw in your lot with us, and we’ll share the loot.” But of course in Proverbs 1:19 the father warns, “Such are the paths of all who make profit dishonestly; it takes the lives of those who receive it.” In the world people are desperate to come about money, by any means.


Hording is a major dynamic of worldly wealth. As we speak, the world’s first Trillionaires are emerging. People are rightly asking, “How much is enough? How much is too much?” Jesus once said, when you die, who is going to get all you stored for yourself? In the same corporation a person makes a trillion and another makes minimum wage. Proverbs 11:4, “Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath. . .”


Worldly wealth is pretentious. It’s often about ego and appearances. Proverbs 13:7 says, “One person pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has abundant wealth.” Worldly wealth tends to be self-centered. Proverbs 18:1 says, “The one who isolates himself pursues selfish desires. . .” Worldly wealth tends to be manipulative. Proverbs 19:6 says, “Many seek a ruler’s favor, and everyone is a friend of one who gives gifts.” There is a lot of generosity, but there is often an ulterior motive! There is a political calculation, a sociological, marketing, branding calculation. Proverbs 21:27 says, “The sacrifice of a wicked person is detestable—how much more when he brings it with ulterior motives!” Not all generosity is pure, or even equal.


Worldly people often indulge in class warfare. Proverbs 15:15 says, “All the days of the oppressed are miserable, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:15). Those who are miserable persist in misery no matter what’s given them. And people can be so miserably bitter they rejoice over the economic downfall of others. Proverbs 17:5 says, “The one who mocks the poor insults his Maker, and one who rejoices over calamity will not go unpunished.”


In contrast, Proverbs outlines a “Spiritual Mentality” to generosity. Sometimes a worldly mindset bleeds into the church. How many times have you withheld giving saying, “I don’t have enough for me, let alone God, let alone others!” From the perspective of Proverbs, there isn’t any excuse NOT to give.


The first reason there isn’t any excuse NOT to give is because hard work pays off. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth obtained by fraud will dwindle, but whoever earns it through labor will multiply it.” The key word isn’t “addition” but “multiplication.” In the New Testament, in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul urged the Thessalonians not to be lazy, but to work hard, so could share with those in need.


A second reason there isn’t any excuse NOT to give is because wisdom pays off. Proverbs 8:18 says, “With me {wisdom} are riches and honor, lasting wealth and righteousness” If you are building (not destroying) wealth as we outlined in an earlier message, it’s going to dramatically change your fortunes. Wisdom pays.


A third reason we don’t have any excuse NOT to give is because God honors tithing. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with wine.” People will say, “I don’t have enough to give, let alone tithe.” The truth is, “you don’t have enough NOT to give and tithe.”


Look at Proverbs 11:25-26. It summarizes everything quite well. “A generous person will be {WHAT??} enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.” “People will curse anyone who hoards grain, but {WHAT??} blessings will come to the one who sells it.” Proverbs 22:9, “A generous person WILL be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Proverbs 28:27, “The one who gives to the poor will NOT be in need, but one who turns his eyes away will receive many curses.”
We can see already, that generosity ought to be a defining characteristic of God’s people! The Proverbs 31 woman of noble character… Proverbs 31:20, “Her hands reach out to the poor, and she extends her hands to the needy”.


Generosity ought to be spontaneous. Proverbs 3:27-28, “When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one to whom it belongs. Don’t say to your neighbor, “Go away! Come back later. I’ll give it tomorrow”—when it is there with you.”


Do you see? For the Christian there is to be a joy, a freedom, a compulsion to give generously. Nobody should be putting us over a barrel, guilting us. It ought to be as natural to give as it is to receive, grace from God.


Let’s talk about this. What should our attitude be when we give? Proverbs 14:31, “The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but the one who is kind to the needy honors him.” AH! When I give to the needy I’m honoring that person who is in need. I’m dignifying him or her. But I’m also honoring God!
But if I give, won’t my giving be in vain? Absolutely not! Proverbs 19:17 says, “Kindness to the poor is a loan to the Lord, and he will give a reward to the lender.” Wow, I’ve never thought of it like that before. Generosity to others is a loan to God? I wonder what kind of compounding interest God will pay out on that loan at the end of the ages? 10% 12% How about 100%?


In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus tells Peter, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, who will not receive a hundred times more, now at this time —houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions —and eternal life in the age to come. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”


Some people are so conscientious about generosity, they feel guilty using their wealth for their own enjoyment! If I were to summarize the teaching of Proverbs I would say, “Enjoy Wealth With Moderation.” In Proverbs 24:13 the father tells his son, “Eat honey, my son, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to your palate.” It’s okay! Every good and perfect gift is from above! But then in Proverbs 25:16 he counsels, “If you find honey, eat only what you need; otherwise, you’ll get sick from it and vomit.” Stay out of the ditch of guilt on the left, and the ditch of immoderation on the right!


Proverbs has a lot to say about giving responsibly! Proverbs 13:22a says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. . .” A good man will leave an inheritance, but a wise man will carefully discern the impact that inheritance might have. Proverbs 20:21 says, “An inheritance gained prematurely will not be blessed ultimately.” Proverbs 19:10a, “Luxury is not appropriate for a fool. . . ” If were not careful and wise, generosity can be a curse to those we love. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to generosity. Generosity isn’t one size fits all. Proverbs 16:26, “A worker’s appetite works for him because his hunger urges him on.” Is our generosity enabling or disabling… blessing or cursing? It takes discernment!


Last thought. Proverbs 21:13, “The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.”

Scripture Verses

Proverbs 1:19; 3:9-10, 27-28; 8:18; 11:4, 25-26; 13:11; 14:31; 17:5, 22; 19:7; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27

Worship Playlist

Follow You Anywhere by Passion

Call Upon the Lord by Elevation Worship

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery by Shane & Shane

Our God by Chris Tomlin

Study Questions

  1. What changes in us when we are generous? How does generosity affect others?
  2. Read Matthew 18:21-35. When do  you find yourself acting like the unforgiving debtor? Why?
  3. Jesus didn't own much. How was he generous?

Apply It!

Resources

Our In the Wilderness sermon series booklet provides a place for sermon notes, questions for reflection, and a challenge to read through the book of Proverbs in 31 days. You may pick up a booklet at Lakeside on Sunday mornings or weekdays between 8:00 am & 4:00 pm.