Generosity Fueled by Love

 “Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.  And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).  So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul” ( Acts 11:27-30, ESV).

Jesus cares for the needs of his people through the generosity of his people. In Acts 11:27-30, the Lord Jesus made the need of the Jerusalem church known to the Christians in Antioch through a revelation from the Spirit to the prophet Agabus (11:27-28). Agabus reported the revelation, and the mainly Greek church in Antioch resolved to take up an offering for the mainly Jewish church in Jerusalem (11:29-30). This gift not only displayed the care of Jesus for his church, but it also displayed the unity of the one church, the church of Jesus Christ, made up of both Jew and Gentile. Consider with me four principles of generosity we learn from the Christians in Antioch as they respond to the financial need of the Jerusalem church.

Principle 1 | They gave willingly and deliberately (Acts 11:29).
Once the need was known, the disciples in Antioch determined that they would send a relief offering. That word determined may also be translated decided or resolved. In other words, knowing the need, they resolved to be generous. And notice that the determination was both individual (“everyone” v.29) and corporate (“the disciples determined” v.29).

There are any number of reasons one might determine to give. Some people give out of obligation or obedience. Others out of shame or guilt. But the greatest fuel for generosity is love. Think about it! We’re all generous with whom or what we love – generous with our time, our resources, and our money. If we love self, we lavish ourselves with what makes us most happy. If we love others, we lavish them with what makes them most happy. Because I love my wife, I delight in showering her with generosity, even to the point of personal sacrifice. And that’s no surprise because love by definition and example is sacrificial. God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And Jesus’ love for us is such that he laid aside the wealth of heaven to become a poor servant that through his perfect life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection, we who are poor in spirit may share in his heavenly inheritance through repentance from sin and faith in him. That’s good news!

Jesus cares for his people through the generosity of his people, and he gives us both the definition and example of what that generosity looks like. Let us love others as Jesus loved us and resolve to be generous.

Principle 2 | They gave proportionally (Acts 11:29).
We cannot give what we do not have, and Jesus never asks us to. Instead, the Christians in Antioch resolved to give according to each person’s ability – literally, according to how they prospered. The question we need to ask is What do we have to give? Truth be told, as Americans, we have a lot more than we realize. Everything we have comes from God, and we are God’s managers of what he gives us. God provides for us that we may live and care for our family, and he blesses us in ways that allow us to be his instruments for the care of his people.
It’s possible that our love for self has driven us into strangling debt. As a result, we feel we cannot give. Let me encourage you to get help getting out of debt so that you may be free to be generous. Then resolve to give generously, according to what you have, not what you do not have.

Principle 3 | They gave purposely (Acts 11:29).
The disciples in Antioch gave for a particular purpose – to send relief to the saints in Judea. They didn’t collect a general offering for general needs; they were purposeful. And so should we be. At High Pointe, the purpose of our giving is evidenced in our annual budget. If you want to know why we give, I encourage you to study the budget. Then, use the budget as a prayer guide – praying for our gospel partnerships in the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and where ever else the Lord allows us to be generous with.

Principle 4 | They gave wisely (Acts 11:30).
We want to be purposeful in our generosity, but we also want to be accountable like the Christians in Antioch. They wisely chose trusted men (Paul and Barnabas) to take the offering to Jerusalem. And Paul and Barnabas wisely delivered the offering to the elders of the church in Jerusalem, not just anyone.

At High Pointe, we want to continue to grow in being like the church in Antioch. Because of their faith in Christ, they were the first to be called Christians. And because of their generosity, they displayed the unity of the one church, made up of Jew and Gentile, and they displayed the promise that Jesus cares for his people through the generosity of his people.

I thank God for High Pointe. This year, you have given generously, and, as a result, our giving is the strongest is has been in the last several years. Let us continue to give willingly and deliberately, according to what the Lord has given us, purposely, and wisely. May the Lord grant us to continue to grow in our generosity that we may bring him glory by giving evidence of our love for God and our love for one another.

Love,

Pastor Juan

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