What one word would you use to describe your mindset when it comes to giving? Would that word be "Scarcity" or "Abundant" For many of us our answer might depend on how we grew up. Someone with a scarcity mindset believes that there's simply not enough to go around. There is always a shortage and so you got to “get what you can because there's not enough”. One friend of mine referred to herself as a "hoarder", not like the tv show, but every dollar she could set aside, she did for fear that she would one day not have enough. Others of us, like me, develop this mindset out of trying to be self-sufficient, never wanting to rely on anyone or anything else for the things we need. Yes, I just described myself as one who in some ways still struggles with a "scarcity mindset".
I've shared with you before that my grandfather was a tenant farmer.He didn't own the farm or the house they lived in. He worked the fields, raised cows, tobacco, corn and hay and in return he was provided a house on the farm and shared in the harvest. When he and my grandmother died, they had $600 to their name along with a few household items. You would think they lived a life of scarcity, yet they always lived in abundance. Someone with an Abundant mindset believes there is always more, that we serve a powerful God and He always provides. If I have an apple pie and you cut out 1/4 of it and took it, a scarcity mindset says "Wait, there's not enough for me and I need to guard what is mine." While an abundant mindset says "You can have half and we can make another one. There's always enough to go around." With one mindset you find yourself afraid to give and with the other you find great freedom in giving and learn to give even more.
Now, what kind of heart does God have and what kind of heart does he want us to have as his children, as his Church? We know that God's heart is a giving heart. "For God so loved the world that He Gave......"
Jesus addresses the heart in Luke Chapter 6, verse 37 as he describes the attitude and heart God desires in us as followers: "Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Now, let's be honest. We like the second part of that statement - God gives abundantly...pressed down, shaken together and running over. Jesus says: Whenever you give, you need to understand something, you're going to get back. If you plant an apple seed, you don't get back just one apple seed. You get back a tree and the tree has many apples and each apple has many seeds. And so Jesus is trying to say to you and me, when you give you are going to receive more back.
But notice the context with which Jesus has framed this. If you give judgement, judgement will be given back to you. If you're a condemning person, you’re going to receive condemnation back, and listen to this, you’re going to receive it in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, overflowing.... But, here is the great news! If you're a forgiving person, if you give forgiveness, if you give love and compassion, then that's what you get back.
In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 15 God teaches us to have an abundant mindset by having us first deal with our heart. Let's begin in Deuteronomy Chapter 15, verse 7: "If there is a poor man among your brother in any of the towns of the land that The Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted (don't have a scarcity mindset) toward your poor brother.Rather be openhanded (abundant mindset) and freely lend him whatever he needs."
How am I going to get to the place where I give like God gives? Because God is a generous giver, we know that. There are 2 things we need to deal with and 2 things we want to develop. The first is this. Deal with a selfish heart.
Let's look at verse 9: "Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to The Lord against you and (now watch what he says) you will be found guilty of sin."
"Selfishness produces sin in our lives." Notice also what he says "Don't let a wicked thought come into your mind."
God implemented an economic system in Israel that every 7 years, all debts were cancelled. How many of you would like to re-implement that system today? So here is what God is saying - When you are deciding whether to give or not and the thought comes into your mind "Oh, wait a minute, this is the 7th year, and we've only got 6 months left in this year and if he can't pay back this debt in 6 months, the debt is cancelled.....that means I'm probably never going to get this back." God says this is a wicked thought, a selfish thought.
Now the reality is, those thoughts do enter our mind, but what he is saying is "don't let it get into your heart. Don't live that way." "I want you to give like I give. I don't expect anything back. I'm not asking you to pay me back for what I did. I give and I give generously."
Now, let's pause here for a minute and let this sink in a little. Why would God develop an economic system that required his people to forgive all debts every 7 years? Because he wanted his people to learn to give... and give in such a way that we trust he will replenish what He gave us to begin with. Notice in verse 7, God has given the Israelites the land, the houses they lived in, the fields that were already planted, the vines that were already bearing fruit. It is all given to them...
Our economic system today, that we have created, is one of borrowing and lending and instead of trusting God and his abundant giving, we have become a people who live with a scarcity mindset - and it has come true in our lives, there just doesn't seem to be enough money to pay the debts we have gotten ourselves into.
Have you ever thought about this? Why did God invent giving in the first place? Is it because He's a little short in heaven when the light bill comes due and it's tough? Did he invent it for himself because he would barely get by if it weren't for our giving? No. God invented giving for our sake, mine and yours. Because giving deals with selfishness and greed and the fear of never having enough in our lives. And listen, you will never be joyful, happy, and peaceful if you're a selfish, greedy, hording person. Because they are the most miserable in all the earth. The most joyful, happy, and peaceful people are those who give. Those who give abundantly. And God knows this is what helps you break through that.
Now listen, this is hard teaching. We are born with a nature of taking, a nature to protect what we have. But when we are born again, when we are born of the Spirit, we're born with a different nature, God's nature, God's Spirit inside of us, God's Spirit and nature of giving. We just have to learn to let go and do it. And that begins with us dealing with a selfish heart.
Second, we need to Deal with a grieving heart. Vs 10: "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this The Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."
Write this down. "Selfishness attacks us before we give, and grief attacks us after we give." Have you ever given a large amount? Given an offering or commit to a building project, made a large commitment and right after you do it, something breaks or you lose an account, or someone gets sick? Maybe none of those things happen... Maybe you simply look at your bank account balance... What thought comes to your mind? "I shouldn't have done that." "What if there is not enough for what has come up, or what might come up next month?" It's true isn't it? If you have ever given big, you know this is how it works at first. We grieve; we go through denial, depression, even anger...
So why do we grieve? Do you know why we grieve after we give? Here is why - Because we thought it was ours to begin with. Yet the bible says: "the earth is the Lords and everything in it." (Psalm 24:1)(NIV)
Vs 10: "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this The Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." Here's what God is saying: "If I could ever get your heart to change, I'll bless everything you do. I'll bless your finances. I'll bless your family. I'll bless your children, your marriage, your heath; I'll bless everything if I can just get you to give generously, if I can just change your heart."
So we've talked about dealing with a selfish heart, a grieving heart, now let's turn our attention toward developing the heart that God has given us by his Spirit. We want to Develop a sacrificial heart. Verse 10 says "Give generously to him." So why did I say sacrificial instead of generous? Because in order to be generous, sacrifice is necessary.
Turn with me back to Luke chapter 6 and let me show you the connection between Deuteronomy chapter 15 and what Jesus is teaching us in Luke chapter 6. Remember God has been dealing with our heart and teaching us to give generously. Let's go back a couple of verses to Luke 6 verse 30 where he says "Give to everyone who asks you and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them (watch this) without expecting to get anything back." (sounds like giving with the right heart). "And your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High" (in other words, you are going to be like God when you do this) "for He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
And we say, yes God is kind to the ungrateful, he is merciful to the unmerciful, but listen.... that person is us. We are the ungrateful, we are the unmerciful. Right? Romans 5:8: "yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God didn't wait for us to get thankful to send His son. He sent his son before we were thankful...
Here is what God is saying to us, He's saying "I'm generous. You are my kids now. Why aren't you generous? Why do I have to keep saying to you 'share", "share'? When are you going to grow up? When are you going to mature? When are you going to stop being so concerned about your own toys and start sharing your toys with other kids? When are you going to become generous? I want you to become like me."
Here is the fourth thing we learn back in Deuteronomy 15, verse 15. God wants us to Develop a grateful heart. Verse 15 "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today."
“Remember”.... One way or another I am reminded every day just where I came from and the One who redeemed me, rescued me, restored me. That I too once was lost but now I'm found. That I was once blinded to my own self-righteousness, my own goodness.... And this blinded me to my need for his grace, his mercy, his love... Today I am grateful that he loved me anyway. Although my debt has been paid, in my gratefulness I lay down my life to him again this time as his vessel, his ambassador to all the world.
Notice this word "command", God is commanding his people to be generous, he is ordering them to be generous on the basis that "they didn't own anything", just like my grandparents, they were given a place to live, God blessed them with everything they had, and now that he has blessed them he is telling them to be a blessing to other people."
I shared with you that my grandparents were basically tenant farmers, yet they always had a home to live in, their bills were always paid, they had two cars (not brand new), but two cars when they needed them, they raised two children who were healthy. At both of my grandparents funerals, the Baptist church they had built, added on to, attended every time the doors were opened, the church they brought their tithe to each week. It was filled with preachers who over the 60 years of my grandparent’s adult lives had been around their dinner table, the recipients of green beans, beef, pork, and a whole love of love and grace, whose lives had been changed by Merchant and Frances generosity that came from a grateful heart. Liberty university was built on my grandparents gifts in part. Why, because they were grateful.
A pastor's wife was once asked about her husband - "Why do you think he is so generous?" And the wife thought for a moment and said "you know, He's never gotten over being saved. He's never forgotten where he came from. And he knows better than anyone that everything we have comes from God. He is the most grateful person I know."
I want you to bow your heads with me and close your eyes. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? What is the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit living inside of you as a believer, what is He saying to you right now about your heart? Ask Him, God, what are you saying to me through this message?" I can tell you that right now God is saying to some of you "I want you. I want all of you, not just a piece of you, but I want your heart." "I want you to understand this and have your heart changed so I can bless you."
Let me pray for you right now. Father, we are humbled by your presence and your great love for us that you would sacrifice yourself for us, that you would come for us in our ungrateful state and open the kingdom of your son to us, that you would call us your own, and grate us all that we have. Thank you for dealing with our hearts that are many time selfish and lacking in trust. Thank you for giving us your heart if only we will allow the transplant. Give us courage to take our next step in full confidence that you hold us in the palm of your hand. We love you father and we are grateful for your love and generosity toward us.