Monday, August 8, 2011
Give It Your All!
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
A week ago this past Sunday, my pastors concluded their five-part sermon series based on the book, The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase, with the topic: "Extravagant Generosity". Pastor Emily began with a touching story of her recent mission trip to Nicaragua. The abject poverty she described seeing there made the least of my possessions seem like treasures of unsurpassed worth. Yet, the adults and children she served while she was there were brimming with joy and understood the meaning of extravagant generosity. On their first day of teaching vacation Bible school, Emily and her co-workers were surprised and overwhelmed by an unexpected gift. The adults had Jerry-rigged a small wagon from whatever materials they could scrounge and each child had brought a fruit from the trees growing in their yards as an offering of thanks. The cart was overflowing and so were the emotions of those who received this unanticipated and heartfelt gift.
Pastor Wallace explained to us that extravagant generosity is based in faith, in trusting the Lord to take any monies or gifts we have, however meager, and multiply them; if kept to ourselves, they will only wither and die. He recounted a story told by Dr. Tony Campolo who was to be a guest preacher at a church when he was approached by a trustee and asked would he pray that God would give them $6,500 for an important project they wished to launch. Rather than asking God, Dr. Campolo pulled out his wallet and declared that yes, he would pray, but only if everyone in the room took out their wallets and empty them of all the money they contained. No one held back. When the money was counted, it far exceeded their goal!
Whether we give out of our poverty or out of our riches, when we ALL give together, we create extravagant generosity. I truly believe that if every church in this nation were to give to the goal of helping the needy in their neighborhoods and communities, there wouldn't be one family on welfare, no house foreclosed on, no children going to bed hungry, and no medical bills unpaid. The early Christians, through their mutual love and sharing, modeled for us the ultimate in generosity. Theirs was, indeed, blessed with extravagance.
Let us remember today the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Psalms 89:1-18 or 89:19-52
2 Samuel 13:23-39