Craig Groeschel - The Responsibility of Being Blessed
Have you ever seen someone who's really, really rich and thought to yourself, "If I were rich, I'd be better at being rich than they are"? How many of you ever thought that? Be honest, raise your hand. Online, you can type it in the comment section, "I would be better at being rich than they are". I don't know what it would mean for you, but you might think, "I wouldn't spend my money on dumb stuff like dumb rich people do. I'd spend my money on different things".
You might say, "I'd spend more on experiences, or I would spend more with people, or I might travel more, but definitely beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would be way, way, way more generous with the money that God entrusted to me than those rich people. If I were rich, I would be better at being rich than those rich people are". Now, what's funny to me about the subject of wealth and generosity is that most of us think that we're not rich, and the truth is many of us are richer than we think we are. Most of us think that we're not rich, and we really are, and most of us think that we're generous and we're really not.
Welcome to Life.Church where I promise to step on your toes at least once today. What's interesting is most of us think that we're really not rich, but I wanna tell you that you're probably richer than you think you are. But the reason you think you're not rich is because you know a lot of people a lot richer than you. And the problem is that if we do get more, we never really know where the rich line is.
For example, if you do actually name a number and say, "One day, if I made this much money in income, or if I had this much money in the bank," if you name a number and you say, "There's the line," the funny thing is that when you come up to and cross the line, what does the line do? The line actually moves. You thought, "If I just got to this point, then I would have plenty". And then one day you have that much and the line tends to move. The reason why most of us don't think that we're rich is because we just don't feel like we're rich.
In fact, I can just give you real numbers. When we started the church years ago, I remember telling Amy, "If we could one day just make $40,000 a year, we would be so, so rich". And several years later, with six children, we made $40,000 a year and I didn't feel rich at all. We were very blessed, but we didn't feel that way. And so what I wanna do is suggest that most of you are actually richer than you think you are. So if you ever wake up one day and say, "Wow, God has actually blessed me, I am rich". We wanna be rich in a way that honors God. So let's all pray:
Father, we thank you that you're a good God that blesses your children with good gifts. May we honor you with wisdom and wise stewardship as you bless us, God. Help us be a blessing to others. We pray this in Jesus' name, and everybody said... Amen.
All right, today we are going to conclude our message series called "More Than Enough" and we're gonna finish our study in 2 Corinthians 9, we'll start in a moment in verse 11, but first I want to give credit to North Point Church who does an annual series called "Be Rich" for the idea behind this message series. I'm grateful to them and we'll be using some of their ideas as well as a lot of my own. I wanna start with a question. What do you wanna hear first, I'm gonna let you vote on this. Do you wanna hear the good news first or do you wanna hear the bad news first? How many wanna hear the good news first? Raise your hands, raise 'em up, raise 'em up. How many say no, let's get the bad news out of the way? Raise 'em up, raise 'em up.
Okay, bad news wins. The problem is good news is in my notes, so we're going with what's in my notes. Sorry about that. Let's start with the good news. Are you ready for the good news? The good news is you are richer than you think you are. That's good news. You're richer than you think you are. In fact, God's Word says in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says this. "God will generously provide all that you need. Then you'll always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others". You have all that you need and you'll have some left over to share with other people. "Yes, you'll be," what? Let's all say this word aloud. "Yes, you'll be enriched in every way".
I wanna talk to you about the word enriched for a minute. This word enriched only appears in Scripture three times and each time it appears in the Book of Corinthians, and I'm gonna show you the Greek word and here's the pronunciation. I am not even going to try to say this word. But what I want to do is show you how this word is translated in different versions of the Bible. It's translated in the CEV, "You'll be blessed in every way". It's translated in GWT, "God will make you rich enough". It's translated in the CEB, "You'll be made rich in every way". You'll be enriched, you'll be blessed, you'll be made rich, you'll have everything that you need, Scripture says, and some left over.
And that's why I wanna tell you today that most of you, you're richer than you think you are. And that's really good news. It's odd that none of you are cheering and going, "Yeah"! Nobody leaned over to their spouse and said, "Oh, I'm so relieved. We're actually rich and I didn't know it. I thought we were struggling but we're really not, I'm just so relieved". And again, most of us don't believe that we're rich because we don't feel rich. And that's a challenge. I wanna say for a moment that I am aware, I'm very aware in fact, very prayerful, that there are some of you that are significantly hurting right now. I know of some in our life that are facing a mountain of medical bills.
We've got one friend that's been unemployed for quite some time. We know some single parents that are working two and three jobs just trying to make ends meet. And so I do wanna acknowledge that there is real significant financial pain even represented here. At the same time, I wanna say just lovingly and truthfully, compared to most people in the world, the majority of us are doing pretty good. I mean, when you got $1,000 phone that you can play video games on and take selfies, that's better than a lot of people around the world. And we have choices. When you think about the choices we have, the options we have, we're actually doing better than you might think. For example, you have the choice, you can make coffee at home in the morning, or you can actually pay someone to make your coffee as you drive to work. Compared to a lot of the world, that's really pretty blessed, right?
I think about groceries. The fact that you actually can go to a store that's got groceries, that's better than most of the world. And many of you, you're rich enough where you don't have to buy the generic. You can get the name brand macaroni and cheese anytime you want to. That's pretty good. Compared to most of the rest of the world, when you drive a car, they're envious. Only about one in five of the people living today own a car. If you got here in a car, you're in the top 20% of people living today. Some of you, like me, we're so rich, we got two cars. And I hate to admit this out loud, but I'll just go ahead and say it. Don't judge me. We are so blessed that we have a house for our cars. Like for real. Like I drive up to it, I push a button, the door opens, I drive my cars into a house for my cars to keep them protected from the elements.
My kids are not that rich. Their cars are vulnerable to all the extreme elements, but my car goes into a house. Some of you, you see where I'm going with this, some of you, you're so rich that you'll drive your car to something called a restaurant where someone else makes your food, meaning someone else killed the chicken and cooked the chicken and put it on your plate, put a little green thing, decoration thing on your plate next time they brought it out. And some of you are so rich, you will literally drive by seven or eight or nine or 10 different restaurants to get to your favorite one. And some of you, you're so rich, you'll even fight with the people you love about which restaurant you want to go to. And I even know someone who's so rich, just one person, they will eat more than they need to because that's how blessed that they are.
And so I wanna tell you some really good news, is that most of you, you're actually richer than you think you are. So, if you're gonna be good at being rich in a way that honors God, the first thing we have to do is we have to admit that we're rich. So I want you to say this with me, if you don't mind, everybody just say this with me. Say it aloud. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich". Let's say this again. Those of you online, you can type it in the comment section if you want to. But let's say it again in a way that you start to internalize the truth of it, ready? "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich".
One more time, just slow it down, I want you to just feel it. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich". Now, I'm guessing that for a few of you just saying those words, "I'm rich," probably made you a little bit uncomfortable. If it makes you uncomfortable, I get it. Because I grew up, I think I was actually taught that rich people are bad. That rich people did something wrong, that they're selfish. I know some of you are like, "What are you talking about"? I honestly think that I was taught that because I grew up believing that rich people were bad people, you can't trust them and they're selfish. I want you to pause for a moment. If you feel uncomfortable at all saying that "I am blessed by God, I am rich," why do you think you're uncomfortable admitting that? I'll ask you this. Where do all of your blessings come from? I come from God, right?
In fact, when it comes to financial blessings and every other kind of blessing, they come from God. And Scripture tells us this in Ecclesiastes 5. "Moreover," when who gives someone wealth? Scripture says, "Whenever God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil," what is this? "This is a gift from God". So anything good that you have is actually a gift from God. And so, if God does bless you financially, why would you apologize or be embarrassed by financial blessings when you don't apologize or be embarrassed for other types of blessings? Like if someone compliments your jacket, you tend to apologize for it. Like, "Oh, this ratty thing, I got it on sale. I got it at the Salvation".
You know, you tend to apologize. But if someone compliments your marriage and says, "Oh, you've got an amazing marriage," you don't say, "Oh yeah, she's just an old hag". You don't say that, you better not say it, or you're not gonna have a good marriage. "Oh, he's not as good as he looks". You're not gonna say that. But if someone says you're blessed financially, we often feel embarrassed. I want you to say it again. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich". And the good news is, you're richer than you think you are.
Now for the bad news, and it actually is bad news. The good news is you're richer than you think you are and the bad news is you're richer than you think you are. It's actually bad news. Because most people I know really wanna be rich and massively rich. But I wanna remind you that it is a significant spiritual disadvantage to be distracted by the wealth of this world. In fact, there was a rich young guy that came up to Jesus one time and said, "Jesus, what do I need to do to inherit eternal life"? And Jesus said, "You need to obey the commands". The guy said, "I've done all that, I've done all that". And Jesus, knowing the condition of this guy's heart, looked at him and loved him and he said, "There's one more thing you need to do". Jesus said, "You need to go sell your possessions and then give the money to the poor".
Now, Jesus didn't tell this man to sell his possessions because the man had possessions. Jesus told him to sell his possessions because the possessions had him. His heart was taken up by them, it was a spiritual distraction. And the man was very, very sad because he had great wealth. In fact, we read the parable in Luke 18: Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of God? Indeed, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God". It's actually a disadvantage spiritually to be distracted by the things of this world. And when you're rich, you never get to pray, "Lord, give me today my daily bread".
Because you already got a cabinet full of every kind of gluten-free, raisin-filled waffle, toast, bread that you could imagine. And the more that you have, the easier it is to put your trust in what you have instead of putting your trust in God. So, if we're more blessed and more rich than we think we are, if God has blessed us with more than we need, why did God bless us? Is it so you can get your nails done once a week? Is it so you can play golf on the best golf courses around? Is it so you can get your dream car or travel or spend it all on yourself? And the answer is maybe it's for some of that, meaning God blesses you and he may want you to get your nails done, maybe once every two weeks 'cause they're pretty expensive. But I don't know, you do whatever you do, you do you, boo-boo, okay? But ultimately, the fundamental mistake that many of us make is we tend to think whenever God gives us more, all the more is for us.
The mistake that we make is we think whenever God blesses us with more, that it's actually for us. In fact, Jesus told a parable about this very, very subject in Luke 12. He talked about a rich farmer that had a very, very good year. God had blessed the farmer with a bountiful crop. And so the farmer said, "Hey, this is what I'm gonna do. I'll tear down my barns and I'll build bigger ones, and there I'll store my surplus grain". Our version of that is our closet is so full of clothes and yet we walk by and we touch them all and what do we say? "I've got nothing to wear". Our closet is so full that we put stuff in our garage, but then our garage becomes so full we can't drive our car into it, so we actually rent storage places to store all of our stuff. And yet we think we're not rich, even though we can't keep all of our stuff in our closet and in our garage and we need an additional storage place.
This is what this guy was thinking. "I'll build bigger barns for myself and I'll store my surplus grain there and I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and be merry,'" he said. But God said to him, "You fool. This very night, your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God". This is how it will be for anyone who thinks that everything is for them. And what's crazy about this story is that God wasn't angry with the man for being rich. He was a farmer. God was the one who blessed him, right? God made him rich. He planted seed in God's ground and God sent the rain and the sun, God made him rich. God called him a fool because the guy thought it all belonged to him.
So if we're gonna be rich in a way that honors God, let's look at God's Word and apply what it says to our lives. This is our key text, we looked at the beginning of it, now we're gonna look at the end. "You will be enriched". There's that fancy Greek word. "You'll be enriched in every way," why? So you can buy 14 pair of shoes even though there's only seven days in the week. So you can get more jewelry than anybody that you know in your sorority. That you're gonna be made rich in every way, so that what? Say it aloud, "So that you can always be generous". Why is God going to bless us? So that we can always be generous. "And when you take your gifts to those who need them," what are they gonna do? They're actually gonna thank God.
Here's what's amazing. You're richer than you think you are. And the good news is you've been blessed by God so that you can always be generous. So with that in mind, let's add to our statement that we've been saying. We're gonna add a little line to it. Let's say the first part, say it with me. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich. Now, because I have more, I will do more and give more". Let's say it one more time. Let's slow it down, even quiet, and just feel it. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich. Because I have more, I will do more and I will give more".
So, how do you do more and how do you give more? And the answer is, we actually do it together. We do more and we give more together through the church and as the church. And here's what's amazing, is nobody's ever gonna feel like they're doing a ton. You're gonna say, "Hey, all I do is serve an hour a week in LifeKids. All I do is smile at people and make them feel welcome on the front door. Hey, all I do is give a portion of what God trusted me. It's not even a lot, but I give it back to God through the local church". And you're not gonna think that you do a whole lot. But when every single one of us in the church as the church does our part, we actually make a massive difference in the world.
In fact, I wanna show you how big of a difference you make. And this is mind-blowing, God-glorifying truth. How many of you have ever invited someone to come to church with you? Raise your hands up, raise your hands up. Excellent, some of you brought someone today. Almost everybody said, "I've brought someone with". Let me tell you how God has used your little invitation to change lives. The church started in 1996. Fast forward 28 years, how much do you think our church has grown every year on average for 28 years? I will answer it and tell you, if we grew by 3%, year over year, over year, over year, over year, over year, over decade, over decade, that would be amazing.
If we grew 5% on average every year, that would be mind-blowing. If there was a church that grew 7% year over year, over year, over year, over year for 28 consecutive years, average growth at 7%, people would call that a revival. But because of your little part of consistently inviting people, our church has grown at an average of 21% annually for 28 years. May God be glorified. Through one invitation, followed by another. That alone would be worth our tithe. That alone would be worth every single hour that we use our gifts to be a blessing to other people. But that's not all that God does through our church. That's physical attendance alone. There are literally millions of people at countries around the world that attend Life.Church Online every single week with tens of thousands of salvations.
That alone would be worthy of everything that we could do to impact people around the world. But wait, there's more. There's a Ginsu knife with this thing. Not only do we impact people in physical locations and digitally around the world, but our church provides free resources to churches all over the world. And to give you a little bit of context, there are about 350,000 churches in the United States, about 350,000 churches. How many pastors around the world do you think have downloaded free resources? The answer is over 700,000 pastors. More than double the number of churches in the United States.
And we haven't even talked about the YouVersion Bible app. People are calling it the greatest Bible engagement tool in the history of the world. The YouVersion Bible, this is people opening it right now live, like right now. You can tell where people are awake, in other parts of the world, they're not they're not awake yet. Right now, live at this moment, opening, opening, opening up. The YouVersion Bible app family is now on over 700 million devices, on its way to a billion, funded by your little bit on top of your little bit on top of your little bit. 100% funded by donors to give it away to free. And if you don't know, as a church, we got big vision. When it comes to the Bible, we wanna see God's Word available to everyone, everywhere, every day, and we will not stop doing our part until they have access. Glory to God, glory to God, when you do your little part.
Say, "Craig, what about all the other needs in the world? What are we doing to meet needs of people"? Well, when you do your little part and I do my little part and 45 different Life.Church locations do their part, we actually touch a lot of people. Tell you some behind the scenes. We have full-time staff members. Their only job is to research, investigate, study, and find the very best mission partners to work with in the very most important areas of needs around the world. You want to help somebody? We have full-time people who have looked into every ministry nearby to find the very best. And we don't just send money, but we send people. Every time we send dollars, we send volunteers, not just money but people to help these different ministries. And we have 130 local mission partners served by local people just like you and 13 global mission partners.
And what do we do? I can't tell you all, but I will show you. This is a list of every different ministry touched through the body of Christ. Bible translations for every heart, marriage ministry for hurting marriages, help for exploited children, providing clean drinking water, community empowerment, discipleship for new believers. I'll skip down, provision for experiencing daily food scarcity, support for those trapped in forced marriages, ministry to gang members, ongoing help for the homeless, human trafficking, leadership training. You wanna take a picture of that? If you wanna take a picture so you can look at it, I'll smile. Go ahead if you want so you can look at it later. What is this? This is through the local church. This is the greatest mutual fund of ministry giving known to mankind. When you give your time, when you give your heart. Here's what I want you to feel.
Let this sink in. Because I have more than I need and can share with somebody. And because you may have a little more time than you need or a little more resources and you're blessed by God, as a church family, we are big enough to reach the world. Do you see it? And we are small enough to care for the one. We are big enough to impact every corner of every continent, every country in the world. And yet we're small enough to where somebody's gonna know your name and somebody's gonna know your story, and you can do the same for someone else. If we're gonna be rich, we're gonna be rich in a way that honors God. We're gonna be rich in a way that loves those who are hurting. We're gonna be rich in a way that helps those who are broken. And I want to try to close out with this story. Hope I don't get too emotional.
This story's about Beth, and Beth was not a Christian. Her husband had cheated on her and she ended up being a single mom. And she was, she said later on, she said, "I was either mad at God or I didn't believe in God. I didn't know if I believed in God, but if there was a God, I was mad at him, furious at God". And a friend, kinda like one of you, maybe it was one of you, kept inviting her to church. "You gotta come to church with me. You gotta come to church with me. You gotta come to church with me". Beth's like, "I'm not coming to your stupid church. If there is a God, I don't like him, I'm not coming". And Beth hit a really, really low point and thought, "Well, maybe I'll come to church".
But she didn't want her friend to know she was giving in, so she went to a different service so her friend wouldn't know she was actually going to church. And when the offering bucket came by, she said, "Well, here it goes. All they want is your money". And she said, "I got nothing, I'm a single mom, I'm in big trouble". And the campus pastor said the same thing that we've said, I've said since day number one. If there's somebody here that's in need, you can take back out of the offering and let God meet your need in that way. And she heard that and she was disoriented, was like, "What? Did I just hear that right? You can take back out of the offering"? And she's like, "Well, I'm in need". She told me and so she took out. And she walked away going, "That wasn't that bad, and I got lunch paid for".
And so she thought, "I'll go back again". And she went back again and she felt welcome from other people. And the offering bucket came by and she took out. And for week after week after week, she came, the people growing on her a little bit, the music growing on her a little bit, the message growing on her a little bit. And every week she took back out of the offering. And then one week it hit her. When she was taking out, the campus pastor said, "Feel free to take back out and let God meet your need in that way". And she looked down and she realized, "Wait a minute. This is actually God, loving me and meeting my needs"?
And so on that day, as she told me later on, when I explained the gospel, that God loved her so much, that Jesus gave his life to meet her deepest need, her spiritual need, that the Innocent One died in her place so she could be forgiven. Suddenly, God meeting her physical need transformed and she recognized God met her deepest spiritual need, and she lifted it up both hands on that day to surrender her life to Jesus. Well, there was a lady that was behind her and saw it happen and came up and said, "Hey, I saw what you did, can I pray for you"? And she's like, "Yes, you can". She said, "Can I take you to lunch"? She's like, "Yes, you can". And they became friends and that lady invited her to her small group and helped her find a better job. And 18 months later, she married a guy from the life group.
How good is that, that God brought someone... Really really cool is to this day she's now a tither and every week she worships God with the tithe and every week she and her husband take out a $20 bill in cash and put extra as an offering into the offering plate because she said, "If God could use someone else to meet my need, I wanna do the same thing for someone else". That's who we're gonna be as a church. And so, without apology or reservation, I want to ask you, inspire you to give often and give big. Meet needs wherever you go. I would encourage you to start with the church, start with the tithe. The first 10% goes back to God as an act of worship through the local church. And I'll tell you why I believe this. Because Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it".
If Jesus was building his church, if the church is plan A, I wanna be a part of building what Jesus is building. Do you see it? When we all do our little part through the church, God does big things all over the world through the church. That's why we are not spiritual consumers. We're spiritual contributors. The church doesn't exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world. And one day you recognize it. My little small part is actually a very big part, because our church is big enough to impact the world and it's small enough to care for the one. And so yes, Scripture says, "You'll be enriched in every way". Why? "So you can be generous on every occasion, you can always be. And when you take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God".
So I hope you see it as a responsibility that you're richer than you think you are. And the reason you are is so you can be generous on every occasion. And when you are, people around the world will thank God. So, one more time, very softly, let's all say it together. "God has blessed me with more than I need, I'm rich. Because I have more, I will do more and I will give more". And that's how you're rich in a way that honors God.
So, Father, thank you that we're a part of your church, your body. Help us to be rich and be blessed in a way that honors you.
As you're reflecting today at all of our churches, I wonder how many of you would say, "I really wanna be blessed in a way that honors God". Would you lift up your hands right now? I hope every hand goes up. You can type it in the comment section, "I want to be blessed in a way that honors God".
Father, I thank you for what your Holy Spirit is doing in all of us. Help us to realize, God, just how good you are and just how blessed we are. And God, I do pray for those who are facing significant financial burdens. And God, I pray that in community you would help meet those needs. And God, I pray for the rest of us that really are blessed, that really do have more than we need, that we wouldn't see it as all just for us. Sure, we'd enjoy a lot of it as a gift from you, but we would take a portion of it and use it in a way that honors you and blesses and meets the needs of others. God, help us as a church to grow in irrational generosity because we know it's truly more blessed to give than to receive.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches and those of you online, nobody looking around, I want you to hear the story of Jesus in the same way that Beth did years ago. God doesn't just wanna meet your physical needs, but more than anything else, he wants to meet your spiritual need. If we sat down and had a conversation and said, "Hey, how are you doing with God"? Somebody would say, like, "Ah, I don't know. You know, I'm trying to be good, whatever". I'd say, "How are you doing in life"? You're like, "Ah, you know, I'm looking for that thing that's gonna make me happy. I'm looking, I'm trying".
What's the problem? You've got a spiritual void, there's something missing. And it's not a thing, it's a who. It's a relationship with God. What did God do? He loved you so much that he sent his one and only son Jesus, who died in your place, the innocent died in the place of the guilty, the perfect sacrifice. And the good news is our God, who is so good, raised Jesus from the grave so that anyone, and this includes you, who calls on his name, God, would hear your prayer, he would forgive your sins, he would make you brand new. Today there are those of you you're not here by accident, it's not a coincidence. God is loving you because you need him. What are you gonna do? Let him meet your need, receive his forgiveness, let him give you eternal life.
Wherever you are today, those of you who say, "I have, I've sinned against him, I know I need his forgiveness". We're stepping away from the old life, we're stepping into the grace of God. Today, those who say, "Yes, I need Jesus, I need his forgiveness, I give my life to him". That's your prayer, lift your hands high right now all over the place and say, "Yes, I give my life to him today". We thank God for hands going up. Others every day saying yes. Praise God for all of you online, you can type in the comment section, "I am giving my life to Jesus". And as we have people today all over the world saying yes to the grace of God, would you pray aloud with them? Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus, save me. Fill me with your Spirit, so I can know you and serve you. You have blessed me with more than I need. I am spiritually rich. Because I have more, help me do more, and help me give more to show your love and share your grace. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.