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Making an Impact: Our Generosity
by Tom Goodman
August 14, 2008

We're taking several editions of LeaderLines to look at the actions and attitudes that can make a powerful impact on the people around you.  We began by looking at the impact of your passion.  Last week we looked at the impact your prayer life can make on the lives of your lost friends and relatives.

In this edition of LeaderLines, think about the generosity of your time, your talent, and your income.  When you give of yourself to benefit someone else, you make a tremendous impact.  Make a note of three ways generosity makes a difference.

First, generosity activates ministry.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 9:6 (Msg), "Remember:  A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop.  I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give.  That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting.  God loves it when the giver delights in the giving."

In God's word, our giving is compared to sowing potent, productive seed.  When we're generous, we never lose seed.  Our giving produces results as surely as scattering seed into soil produces a garden.  One man has even suggested that we begin calling our offering plates by another name: "investment plates."  At the church he serves, he put it in the bulletin and encouraged ushers to pray not for the "offering" but for the "investment."  It was a deliberate way to remind people of the truth of this passage.  God always produces a return on our giving.  It is an investment.

And, since that is true, then Paul takes it a step further:  The more generous the investment, the more significant the results.  He says in verse 6, "A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop."  We want a lavish harvest from our efforts at impacting the lives around us, so we need to be lavish planters.  We need to generously sow a part of our very selves as seeds into this community.

Let me add two more ways generosity impacts life, because generosity makes its impact felt in our own lives as well.

Second, generosity accumulates blessing.

Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) says, "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."  There is a divine reciprocity that comes from generosity.

Now, I would never urge you to give in order to get.  But neither would I want to deprive anyone of one of the great promises of God's word.  Over and over again, the Bible promises a personal return from generosity.  We see it in Proverbs 11; we see it Malachi 3; and we see it in the words of Jesus:  Give, and it will be given to you.

It's true for Diane and me:  Every time we've given when we didn't think we had it to give, and every time we've shown hospitality when we didn't think we had the time, and every time we've applied our talents to helping others, God has rewarded us.  Be assured:  Whatever effort you make will be rewarded with God's promise of refreshment.

One more thing:  Generosity activates ministry and accumulates blessing but also --

Third, generosity anticipates heaven.

Paul told Timothy that one of his roles as a pastor was to, "Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow.  Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage -- to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous.  If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:17, Msg)

Did you catch what he said at the end?  When you're extravagantly generous, it results in the building up of an unearthly treasury.

I don't know all that that means, but Paul wasn't the only one to say it.  He was simply echoing the same words that Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount.  The Bible seems to be telling us that not all of us will experience heaven equally.  In other places the Bible tells us that our level of authority in heaven is related to our degree of faithfulness on earth, and now passages like 1 Timothy 6 and others seem to be telling us that the degree of our generosity on earth also impacts our heavenly experience.

What we do on this earth is being watched, it's being recorded, and it counts long, long into eternity.  I find that remarkable that God has set up his kingdom in such a way that whatever I do for these few decades of earthly life makes a difference into eternity itself.

So generosity activates ministry, accumulates blessing, and anticipates heaven.  As a partner in leadership with me at Hillcrest, we must set the example with the generous contribution of our time, talent, and income to the advancement of God's kingdom!


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