The Giver is a new series I started preaching this last Sunday. The service was fun and challenging. The set is awesome and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is our creative hub. This book is such an amazing contrast between selfishness and generosity. I love it. It is amazing the lessons you can learn from children’s books if you would just read them to yourself as you read them to your children. (So be careful what books you buy them because our world is teaching some crazy stuff in the children literature of today.)
So I plan on hitting on a few of the high points from each sermon in my blog each week this month. I hope you find it helpful and encouraging.
The text this week was Matthew 20:1-16. The Parable of the Landowner. In this parable a landowner hires workers at 5 different times through the day and pays them all the same at the end. It is a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven and the grace of God. God’s grace is the same for all of us – no matter when and how we experience it. But as grace is a gift, I believe this passage is a beautiful picture of how we are called to be generous.
Here are some points to consider about generosity…
- Generosity begins with stewardship. This landowner was prepared to be generous because of the way he managed what he had.
- Generosity requires labor as well as love. You are going to have to put some effort in.
- Generosity requires planning as well as participation. You have to plan for it. The man went out 4 more times looking for people to be generous to.
- Generosity and greed CANNOT coexist. The mad worker was greedy about generosity. They do not mix. You CANNOT serve 2 masters. It is either God or money, but not both.
- Generosity is always an act of grace.
The challenge to walk away with about generosity should be…
- Generosity is a choice but it is a choice that must be made before the opportunity exists.
You must choose to live in such a way that you can give. There is no sacrificial giving without sacrificial living.
Now I will share my embarrassing story from Sunday to make the point. Last Saturday, after having studied all week on this Generosity sermon, I went to a Mardi Gras parade. My family and I bought some Cane’s chicken before the parade and were halfway through eating it when the parade started. A homeless man came up to us right as we set the food down for the parade and asked us for it. Truth was we were not done. My kids had not finished their meal and neither had I. So, I said no.
Later that afternoon, as I reviewed my sermon notes, God tore a hole in me over this issue. Here I was with plenty of money in my bank account to stop at the next restaurant and buy some more food and with supper thawing in the sink at the house. And I told this man “no”? So that night he probably had a hard time sleeping because of hunger pains while I had a hard time sleeping because of indigestion.
God gave me the opportunity to give and I missed it. We all miss them all the time. I believe the reason we miss them is we don’t live our lives stewarding for the purpose of generosity. If we did live that way we would be looking for them instead of looking to not see them. (Example – next time you drive up to homeless person ask yourself if the building to right you are staring out is really that intriguing.)
The other point I made comes from the last verse in this passage, “The first will be last and the last will be first.” Generosity requires us to go last.
I hate going last. I hate losing. But I wish I could go back to last Saturday and have lunch last. I wish I could give him even more, but I cannot. I can simply go last the next time and the next time and the next time.
Going last is not a temporary position because generosity is a lifestyle not just a random opportunity.