Craig Groeschel - 3 Qualities of Generous People
Let start by asking you a question. It's a personal question, and I wanna ask you about what you're good at when it comes to your money? What are you gifted at? What are you good at when it comes to your money? I'll give you some options. I wonder how many of you would say honestly that I'm really good at spending. Raise your hands right now, raise your hands. If you need to raise the hand or the person next to you, go ahead and do that, raise your hand out. Some of you, you've got the spiritual gift of spending. You are to shopping what LeBron is to basketball, or Jordan, whoever you want it to be, right? You are so good at spending that your credit card ask for a vacation. You are really good at spending.
I'll ask you another question. How many of you would say you're actually good at bargain hunting? You're great at bargain hunting. You actually think if you find something for 50% off and buy it, you saved money, right? That makes perfect sense, right? You're thrifting, you're on Facebook marketplace, you're the coupon king or the coupon queen. You've got a bumper sticker that says, "I break for garage sales". You're good at bargaining. So we have spending, we have bargaining. How many of you are good at saving? Raise your hand. Few of you are good at saving. Your grandma told you to put some aside first, and you've been doing that for a year. Some of you, you have so much cash under your mattress, you could buy a small country. You're really good at saving.
What's interesting when you think about it, there is not a single Bible verse that says we should be great at shopping. And there's not a single Bible verse that says we should be great at bargain hunting. And there's not a single Bible verse that says we should be great at storing up for ourselves treasures on earth, but there are plenty of verses in God's word that said, "We should be great at giving". We're in a message series called "More Than Enough" and we were actually studying through 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. And I wanna give you the context if you missed last week. Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth, and he was encouraging them to be generous like Jesus.
Now, previously, the Corinthians has said, "We wanna give, and we're going to give, and we plan to give," and they plan to give, and they started, but they stopped. They had good intentions, but they didn't follow through. And so in 2 Corinthians 8:6, Paul actually said this. He said, "We've urged Titus who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish what you promised, to finish the ministry of giving". You had good intentions and you were going to, but you didn't finish what you intended to do. And then I like that Paul calls it, "finish the ministry of giving".
And I want you to realize this, that giving is very, very spiritual. It's actually a ministry when you give, like praying, everybody goes, well, praying is obviously spiritual and fasting is spiritual. And reading your Bible is spiritual, and going on a mission trip is spiritual, and serving in life kids is spiritual. And serving in the two-year-old room may be the most spiritual thing that you ever do, but don't forget that giving is very spiritual. It's actually a ministry. And Paul said, "Hey, why don't you finish the ministry of giving"?
And so he continues in Verse 7 and says this. "Since you excel in so many ways," in other words, you're great and you excel in your faith, and you excel with gifted speakers, and you excel with your knowledge, and you excel with your enthusiasm, and you excel with your love from us. And what does he say? He says, "I want you to excel also in the gracious act of giving". Paul said, "You've got big faith to believe God for miracles, and you've got gifted communicators, and you're great at seeking biblical knowledge, and you're great with spiritual enthusiasm, and you're great at showing love. I also want you to be great at giving".
I want you to be world class givers. And what I'm guessing about most of you is you're probably a little bit like me. You actually want to be great at giving. You've got good intentions, you wanna be great at it, but sometimes, we don't follow through. How many of you would say you've ever thought about giving something but you didn't? Would you be honest enough to raise your hand? This is me. Just recently, Amy and I were going to one of our favorite restaurants, we're frequent all the time, and I'd stopped by the ATM machine to get some cash. Some of you don't know what cash is. It's money that you put in your wallet that you don't use hardly anymore, but I wanna have a little bit in there.
And so I picked up $200 cash, and we went to our restaurant, and sure enough, there was this single mom there that we really enjoy talking to every time we're there. We've gotten to know her. She's not a believer. We're sharing our faith with her. Her baby daddy's not involved, her four-year-old boy's involved in soccer. We know a lot about her. And as I was going through the line, I felt prompted to give her the money in my wallet. And I thought, "I think God wants me to do this". But I didn't have time to talk to Amy about it. So I thought, "Well, maybe that was God, maybe that wasn't God, maybe I need to ask Amy's permission first and I should, but that might be kind of weird". And she's like, "Why is this guy giving me this"?
And so I felt prompted to do it, and I didn't do it. And afterwards, I went off with Amy. I said, "I think I was supposed to give her that money. What would you have thought of that"? And, of course, Amy's like, "When have I ever talked to you I given money? You should have given it, you dummy," you know? And then I thought, "Well, I wasn't really sure if it was God". And then she's like, "When has the devil ever tempted you to be generous"? I am glad you're clapping for my ungodliness. Like, I thought about it, and I wanted to do it, and I didn't do it. I had good intentions, and I didn't follow through.
So Amy will told you, we have gone back five times trying to catch her working there, and we have still not found her there. And I pray to God she still works there, because I don't want to not follow through on what God put on my heart. We wanna be generous. And Paul was talking to the Corinthians who had the same issue that many of us have. We wanna be generous, but we're not necessarily great at being generous. So if we wanna be great at anything, what do we know? We know that nobody ever becomes great at anything by accident, right? I don't know anybody who just said like, "I just walked up to the piano, and dang, I was a concert pianist". I mean, I don't know how it happened, no one says that. No one ever says, "I just... did heart surgery for the first time. I didn't even know, I just took out a kitchen knife, and man, I was good at it," right?
You just don't do that. The way you get great at something is you actually plan to work at it. You strategically decide, I wanna be good at something. No one ever just accidentally became irrationally generous. And the reason that we don't accidentally become irrationally generous is because we are naturally selfish, and I can prove this to you. If you have ever been around any two-year-old, you never have to have selfish lessons. You never say, "Hey, kid, today, I'm gonna teach you to be selfish. I'm gonna hand you a toy. And then when I try to take it back, I want you to scream as loud as humanly possible".
A blood curling, like fingernails on a chalkboard scream. I want you to scream, "Nah"! You never have to teach a two-year-old to do that, because we're naturally selfish. It's the same thing with looking at a group photo. When you look at a group photo, who do you look at first in the photo? No one tells you to look at yourself. And no one tells you that if it's a good picture of you, and it sucks of everybody else, it's a good picture. But if everybody else looks amazing, and your eyes are like this, it's a bad picture, because naturally, we're selfish. And so nobody becomes irrationally generous. Nobody becomes great at generosity. Nobody excels at generosity by accident. We actually have to plan for it.
In fact, Isaiah 32:8 tells us this. "But generous people," let's say it aloud, what do they do? "Generous people plan to do what is generous," and what else do they do? "And they stand firm in their generosity". I love this. Like, seriously. If you really wanna be like God, who gives for God to love the world that He gave, some people have said, you may never be more like God than when you give. If you wanna be great, if you wanna be like God, be great at being generous, you plan to be generous, and then you stand firm in your generosity. What's interesting is most of us don't plan to be generous. I didn't plan to be generous. I just had money in my pocket, thought maybe I'll give it, and then I didn't.
Most of us don't plan to. We plan a lot of things. We'll plan a vacation. We'll plan to remodel the kitchen. We'll plan a party, we might plan a date, but most people don't plan their giving. Most of us, how do we give? We give spontaneously. And I wanted to say right now, it's not wrong to give spontaneously. You're driving down the road, you see someone in need, and you think, "Hey, I wanna bless that person". You want to occasionally give spontaneously. But please, listen. If you only give spontaneously, you'll never be great at generosity, because there is a massive difference between giving and being generous. There's a big difference. What do we know? That giving is what we do, but generous is who we are. There's a big, big difference. Giving is actually an action, but generosity is a mindset.
And so to be generous, we have to change our mindset, and we have to plan to overcome our selfish tendency, to plan to be generous, and to stand firm in our generosity. So what I wanna do today is as we look at God's word, I wanna show you three qualities of generous people, and pray that God helps us to grow into these qualities. What are the qualities? The first thing is this, generous people give how? Say it aloud, generous people give willingly. Number two, generous people give proportionately, and God's word teaches us that generous people give sacrificially. Let's look at God's word, and we're gonna study the first thought, how do generous people give, number one, generous people give willingly. Generous people give willingly.
Scripture says this, 2 Corinthians 8:10. Paul says, "Hey," to the Corinthians. "Last year you were the first not only to give, but to have the desire to do so". You wanted to do it, you just didn't follow through. He says, "Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it". Close the gap between your intentions and your actions. You wanna be generous, make sure that you are. Now how do you do it? According to your means. He says, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have". Generous people give willingly. In other words, God isn't just concerned with the amount, but He's also very concerned with the heart. And I can tell you right now, sometimes, I've tried to give with the wrong heart.
I hate to say that, but we had a guy at one time that was not a believer who did some work on our house. And I was trying to be a witness to him. And at the end, I paid him more than I thought he should have charged. But I thought, "Okay, I need to be a witness," so I'm gonna give him a tip. And I thought, "I'll find something in the house to give him". And I went in the bathroom, and I found a Chili's gift card that said $50 on it. I think it was $50, and so I came in and said, "Hey. You know, thank you for doing this and I just wanna be a blessing to you and I, you know, I feel like God put this on my heart. I'm supposed to give this to you". And he is like, "No way". He goes, "Oh my gosh, I love, thank you so much, this is amazing. I'm going there tonight".
And so I thought, "Okay, that's good". I didn't really wanna do it, but I found it. Someone gave it to me so it was easy to give to him. So he goes to Chili's, I guess, whatever. Three hours later or so, I get a phone call. I picked it up, it's him. He goes, "Hey, bro, what's up"? I said, "What's up with you"? He goes, "No, what's up"? I said, "What's up with you"? He goes, "No, what's up? There's only $2 and 43 cents on this card". And there is a witness in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, right? I mean, my heart wasn't right as half-hearted, and it just kind of failed. And so God isn't concerned with just the amount, but He wants the heart to be willing in.
In other words, somebody could give a bigger gift with the wrong motives, and that's not really generous. Or somebody could give a smaller gift with the right heart, and the right motives, and that's more generous. It's not just about the amount, but it's amount about the heart. And so whenever you do give, you wanna give with the right heart. This isn't like to relieve your guilt. Like, "Oh, pastor talked about giving, I better do something today". It's not to make you feel better. It's certainly not to impress people. It's not to show on social media, "Hey, look how generous I am". It is to honor God and to bless people. When you give from your heart, it's not a I have to or I better, it's a, I want to. After all God has done for me, I wanna be a blessing to others.
Generous people, they give willingly. The second thing is important to note is that generous people give proportionately. They give in proportion to what they have. And what's crazy is like one person could give $10. $10 and that is incredibly generous, because that's all they have. And another person might give $1,000 and you go, "Wow, that's generous". And God might say, "That ain't generous at all. They're so rich, they would not even notice that". Generous people give in proportion to what they have. And maybe that's one reason Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 8:11. He said, oh there it is, give in what? "Give in proportion to what you have". Give a portion of a little, give a portion of a medium amount. When God blesses you with a lot, give a portion of a lot.
"Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly," if you give it willingly, "and give according to what you have, not what you don't have". Scripture says, "Give in proportion to what God has given you". And we're gonna watch as Paul teaches in the New Testament, a very similar principle to what we see all over the Old Testament. Essentially, he's gonna teach us to prioritize your portion, set aside a portion in order to give, and you see it all over the Old Testament. We looked at some verses last week. This week, we'll just look at Leviticus 27:30 that says this. "A tithe," the Hebrew word is maaser, and that means 1/10. It's a portion, 1/10th of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. Scripture says in multiple different places that we return the tithe to God, 10% of what He trusts us with, we give back to Him.
And many of you are thinking the very same thing that I thought the first time I heard that. No way. Like, there's no way. Like, things are so tight right now, there is no way I could possibly, I mean, to give 10% to God, I would have to rearrange my entire life around God. I'd have to make some changes to do that. I'd have to actually prioritize God over all the things that I'm already doing in my life. That's crazy. And Paul said essentially the same thing, prioritize your portion. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, he said this. "On the first day of each week," what should you do? "You should each put aside a portion of the money that you have earned".
Generous people are going to give in proportion to what they have. And the very first time that I took the faith to tithe, that was 19 years old and I was a college tennis player. So I actually started a camp in the summertime, had employees working for me, and made was a lot of money for a 19-year-old. At the end of the summer, I heard it by like the third tithe, the message, I finally said, "Okay, God, I'm gonna trust you". I wrote, what was the biggest check of my life as a tithe, and, you know, shaking, okay, God, I trust you. Put it in in the offering plate, and God is my witness. My grandmother, who we didn't think had anything just after I did that, called and said, "I'm so thankful you're now walking with Jesus, and I wanna bless you".
And my grandmother, my mom's here will tell you a true story, bought me a new car, not just any car. I'll show you a picture of it. It was a Honda Accord, and there's Amy, and, you know, the joke that's coming if you've been here for a while, it was a biblical car because all the disciples gathered in one accord, see what I did there, okay? And it was a game changer, and what I'm not saying, and I want you to hear me clearly, I'm not saying if you tithe, you're gonna get a car. I promise you, I'm not telling you that. What I am saying is that God said, "Test me". That's what He said in the Bible. Test me, and see if I wanna not prove myself faithful, God will provide, He'll bless it may be material, it may be financial, it may be spiritual, it may be relational. God just proves Himself that it's the only time He says to test Him, and to tell you the rest of the story, it was a big, big deal. Because I had $6,000 saved to put toward a car.
And there's a guy named Mike who's in this service who's a part of our church, who was an older fraternity brother, like really old guy, like 31 or 32, right? He was way up there and he was an attorney, and he came to me and he said, "Hey, my mom has a house. She'd like to sell it to somebody. You wanna buy it, like I'm not gonna buy a house". And he showed me the numbers. He said, "We'll carry the note". And I took the money that I had put it as a down payment on my very first house. That house right there, believe it or not, was $14,900, after my down payment, my monthly payment was $151.66 a month. I said to my fraternity brothers, "You can live in here for $100 each".
Six guys moved in, and I became a landlord. At the age of 19. And six months later, another house came up for sale down the street in an auction, I bought it for $11,900. By the time I graduated from college, I had four rental units, and have continued to be faithful to multiply what God has given me, and our whole ability today to be a blessing and to understand how to manage resources in the church, started with God's faithfulness after the very first tithe. Spiritual is God honoring. And scripture says it belongs to the Lord. You cannot give God. And some of you, you'll do what I did. You'll go, "Okay, praise God". Bless, go 10%. Others, you can go, "Ain't no way".
And so a lot of times people go, ain't no way, so you don't do nothing, okay? If you don't do anything, you're never gonna be more generous by doing nothing. Let me just say, when you do nothing, you train yourself to be not generous. You're training yourself not to trust God with your finances. So if you wanna do what I did and start, 10%, do it. If you can't get there and you wanna say, "Let's start at 3% or 5% or grow from there," I would just encourage you to start somewhere, because you will never accidentally be great at being generous. Generous people have a plan, and they stand firm in their generosity. Mom, you can clap for that if you want to, 'cause everybody else is being quiet.
Generous people, they give willingly. We want to be like God, we wanna be a blessing to others. They give proportionately, and then this one's actually difficult. Generous people give sacrificially. They give sacrificially. They don't just give when it's easy, and they don't just give when it's comfortable, but they'll actually give in a way that they often feel it. In fact, Jesus told a very powerful story about a poor widow that gave sacrificially. And he says this, Mark's gospel tells us this. "Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds drop their money in".
May I pause for a moment and say that's a sobering thought that Jesus is like looking around the column, and actually watching and looking at the amount that people put in. Many rich people were there, and they gave what was easy. They gave large amounts. "Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus calls His disciples and He said to them, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave the tiniest part of their surplus,'" It wasn't a sacrifice, it was easy for them. It wasn't even a proportion or it was easy for them. "But she," this widow, "poor as she is, has given everything that she had to live on".
Incredibly emotional. Incredibly emotional. Some of you, you are like that widow. You are so generous with your financial resources, with your time, with your faithfulness, with your service, others, not so much. And so I would ask you just to think about when is the last time you gave sacrificially? When is the last time that you gave, and you felt it? And let's just call it what it is. For some of us, it's really difficult to do that, because at some point, you can be so comfortable that you can give what seems like a large amount to everyone else, but we don't feel it at all. When is the last time you've given your time, your part, your faithfulness, your resources in a way that you actually felt it? I'll tell you about a time that we felt it, and God showed up in a very special way.
We were early in the church back in the old days when we only had four kids. We had a starter family, just a little starter family, two more to come. And I was exhausted, pretty burned out, and had been saving for our first real vacation that we had since the beginning of the church, and had enough money saved to go on a 10-day vacation we were really, really excited about. And there was a couple in our life group that had been praying to adopt for quite some time, and they had a lead and it fell through, and they had another, it's gonna happen and it fell through, and they had another one, that you could get to adopt and it fell through. And finally, they got the green light. A little girl from another country, they were gonna get to adopt, but they just had a massive financial setback, and they had always been ready.
Now, financially, they were not ready, and they had a significant gap. Well, the significant gap was about a 10 days vacation worth that Amy and I had saved up. So we're sitting there in life group with this family going, we could actually take the money we had set aside for ourselves, and we could give it to them. Or we could give 'em a little portion, and pray that everybody else gives 'em something, right? Because I don't wanna do that. And the more we prayed about it, and the more Amy and the Holy Spirit talked to me, sometimes, I get 'em confused, is that Amy, is that the Holy Spirit? Is that Amy, is that the Holy Spirit? I came around to not reluctant, but willing. Yeah, God, this is the right thing, yes, let's do this. And said, "Hey, we want to take our vacation money, and provide for your adoption". They said, "No, no, no".
Yes, you can't talk us down this. This is what God's called us to do, and we gave no strings attached. And that felt like a sacrifice, because I felt like if I don't get time away, it was the early years of the church, I don't know if I can go on. It felt that real to me at the time. And lo and behold, you cannot outgive God. A sweet family from the church came up to us a few days later, and said, "Hey, we have a condo in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Would you guys like to go and stay there free"? Let me pray about it, yes, we would. And I'll show you a picture of this condo.
This is little Anna who's now married, sitting over here next to Luke with a baby and a dog. That's Anna coming down the condo, and this is Amy with the four kids that we have. And we had the most peaceful, most restful time that year, that we went back to Steamboat the next year, and the next year, and the next year, and the next year. And eventually, we outgrew their condo and we had the resources to rent a bigger condo, and rent a bigger one and a bigger one. For 23 years straight, my family has gone back to that place because it's the place where God refreshes my soul. And I sit there and think to myself, "I gave sacrificially. I felt it".
And God gave back extravagantly, because I wanna promise you, you just can't outgive God. And so when it comes to your money, let's just remember, God never said to be great at spending on yourself. And you gotta admit, we got a generation that can hit click, buy faster than anybody. There's so many boxes coming to your house. You better get the UPS guy Christmas present. The Bible never said be great at spitting on yourself. The Bible never said be great at finding the best bargains. And the Bible said never said to be great at storing up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, but be great at storing up treasures in heaven. Be great, excel at the ministry of giving, because giving is spiritual. It is a ministry.
And so let's not be like the Corinthians, and let's not be like me in the line when God prompts you. But let's give willingly, joyfully, hilariously, thankfully. And let's give proportionately, let's start with the tithe, and that's a starting point, 10% back to God, then we're gonna give offerings above there. I know it sounds crazy, but you watch as God shows up, let's start there, and let's be givers. And then every now and then, when God prompts you, let's give sacrificially. And what you may find is you just can't outgive God. Because when you give, you may never be more like God, for God so loved the world that He gave, you may never be more like God than when you give.
So Father, we thank You for an amazing church of people that are growing in generosity. Thank You that You enable our church to give, to give the Bible app, to give free resources, to give to churches around the world, to give to people in need, to give to ministries, not just money, but to give people, to give time, to make a difference. God, help us to be great, to excel at generosity.
As you're praying today, I hope this is all of you. Every one of you that's a believer, I hope this is you, but how many would say I really do, I wanna honor, I wanna be like God, I wanna be generous, I wanna be great at being generous. Would you raise your hands right now? Lift up your hands, and praise God. For you online, just type in the comments section, "I wanna be great at generosity".
Father, stir within our hearts. Give us faith, God, give us the faith. Give us an abundant mindset. God give us, we talked about last week, give us the barn mindset, the barn blessings to give first and to trust You. And God, whether it's a portion of a lot or a portion of a little, may our hearts be right before you. Give us eyes to see, opportunities to give, to be a blessing, to empower Your church, to bless people that are in need, to occasionally give spontaneously, but to often give strategically. To plan to be generous, and to be people of God who stand firm in their generosity.
As you keep praying today, nobody looking around, I wanna tell you about a generous God. There is no one more... how did God give? For God so loved the world, let me just make it more personal. God loved you so much, even while you sinned against me, sent His son, God so loved you that He gave His one and only Son Jesus. How did God give? God planned to send His son. It was His plan and purpose to send Jesus. God gave His son willingly. God gave His first. He gave His first, He gave the first. And God gave sacrificially the most sacrificial gift ever, Jesus, the Son of God who never sinned, the lamb of God who is slain for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus gave His life in our place on a cross, and God raised Him from the dead, so that anyone, doesn't matter what you've done, doesn't matter how dark your life is, doesn't matter how far from God you feel, anyone who calls on that name, the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus, your sins would all be forgiven. Your old would be passed away, and you would become completely new.
There are those of you around the world, there are those of you in church right now, you're not here by accident. You're here, because God is loving you toward Him, what do you do? You just step away from your old life, step away from your sin, and say, "Yes, Jesus, I receive your gift, the gift of eternal life, the gift of salvation". He gave His gift and you receive it. Those who say, "Yes, I step away from my sin. I step away from the old today by faith. I give my life to Jesus. I receive His gift, I give my life to Him". That's your prayer, lift your hands high right now all over the place and say, "Yes, that's my prayer". Right here, praise God for you. Others today, saying yes. Right back over here, yes, praise God for all of you. Say, "Yes, I call on Jesus, I surrender to Him". Those of you online, just type in the comment section, "I am surrendering my life to Jesus". And today, wherever you are, we all pray together. Would you pray aloud?
Heavenly Father. Thank You for the gift of sending Your son. I give my life to Him. Jesus, forgive me. Save me from all of my sins. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit, so I could know you and serve you. And follow you. Make me like you, full of love, full of compassion, and full of generosity, to show your love to a world that needs you. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine, in Jesus name, I pray.