On Generosity

Last week I shared a mini-sermon with our students on the topic of generosity. The context was to announce an invitation to the college’s upcoming fundraising banquets – see here, and please feel likewise invited to attend!

The announcement prompted an opportunity to share briefly on a too often neglected area of discipleship: generosity.

Generosity and the topic of money generally have become choppy waters to navigate for today’s pastors. Today’s pastors are frequently nervous to talk about money lest they – and the church – be associated with the self-promoting antics of flashy TV or “health, wealth, and prosperity” preachers who hijack Scripture’s rich teaching on wealth, twisting it to suit their personal gain.

That’s a shame, because right thinking about wealth and, in particular, generosity is essential for a discipled life.

Multiple studies show that Christians in the western world have steadily grown wealthier and, in the past 15 years in particular, have steadily shared less and less of that wealth. In fact, US figures for 2009 put giving barely above 2% – almost as low as statistics for giving recorded during the Depression and the post-World War II eras (cited in Craig L. Blomberg, Christians in an Age of Wealth [Zondervan, 2013], p. 24).

I believe Jesus means it when he says: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6.21; Luke 12.34).

En masse, western Christians today demonstrably DO NOT deposit our “treasure” primarily in the Kingdom. Demonstrably, our treasure goes to our personal security (homes, vehicles, careers, RRSPs, RESPs, etc.) and our personal pleasure (gadgets, movies, holidays, activities – including activities for our kids!).

How we spend our money today indicates measurably that we are in a crisis of discipleship. And I do not believe I’m overstating it when I say that until we get our hearts in the right place – as demonstrated by getting our money in the right places! – the church will be ill-equipped to deal adequately with any other social issue that comes our way.

For some excellent resources on generosity, see:

Craig L. Blomberg, Christians in an Age of Wealth (Zondervan, 2013);

Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Rev. ed. (Thomas Nelson, 2005);

Ronald J. Sider, Just Generosity, 2nd ed. (Baker, 2007);

Further, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada has also issued a small booklet that’s both worthwhile and, at only $4, inexpensive:

David Hazzard, ed., Generosity Changes Everything…Even Us (PAOC, 2014).

 

 

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