Jentezen Franklin - An Extravagant Offering
And I want to show you one of the most beautiful stories in the New Testament, in my opinion, in John 12. It says, "Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil". "But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, Why has the fragrant oil not been sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor"?
Now, listen to verse six. It's so important. "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in. But Jesus said, Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always". This story is a beautiful story and lesson on the two kinds of natures that can possess us; but more importantly, the two natures of God and Satan. God has a nature of generosity. God is a generous God. Satan has a nature of selfishness. It's all about me. It's all about I. It's all about what you want. And there are two natures that people get. They either have a generous nature or they become selfish in every aspect of their life. There's always this battle that's taking place.
And what I love about the story is this woman was so moved that she did something beyond normal and average. She brought an extravagant gift and broke it open and poured it out on Jesus. Generosity was flowing from a grateful heart. In John 12:6, Jesus said, Judas said, "Why didn't you give this to the poor"? Now, this is so important. And the Bible said he said that "not because he cared about the poor". He was robbing, he was stealing from the treasury and he was upset that that was being wasted on Jesus. I love the fact that this exposes the age-old selfish cover-up, that anybody who's doing anything for the Lord, building anything for the Lord, doing anything for the body of Christ, the selfish spirit criticizes that. They're not going to do anything for the Lord, but they criticize people who want to do something for the Lord.
I found out that people who give and tithe and give to the church, they are never offended if I talk about money. It's kind of like going to the doctor for your annual physical and he'll probe and he'll prod and he'll feel around and he'll say, "Does it hurt there? Does it hurt there"? They'll push sometimes. And every once in a while, when they push, you'll feel something and they'll see the reaction and they'll say, "Oh, oh, did that hurt". "Yes, I felt something there". And they'll say something like this, "Well, it's not... We need to check that further. It's not supposed to hurt there when I probe". So when I get up and I preach on giving, and I probe and I tithe a little bit and talk about tithing, if it hurts, it's not the, Doctor Franklin's problem. It's not supposed to hurt there. It's not supposed to feel uncomfortable there. It's not supposed to get you kind of edgy about things, because that's your issue, not mine. I'm just the doctor. I'm just pointing out the medicine.
Oh, it's going to get fun. I can tell you that. What's interesting to me about this story is Jesus knew he had that spirit and knew he was a thief and still wanted him to keep the money box because he was testing him in the area of his weakness. You are being tested every day with what you do with your resources. And how can you be trusted with true riches, the Bible said in the book of Luke 16, if you can't be trusted with unrighteous mammon, God will never give you spiritual authority. Listen to this. If you're not faithful with money, true riches, Jesus said, will never be trusted to you. And what are true riches? Influence with people and power with people. God will not give spiritual authority to anyone who cannot handle money. If you can't handle unrighteous money, how will you commit, how will He commit to you true riches?
You know, we made decisions a long time ago that we would be audited every year. And then, on top of that, we have another audit called the evangelical council financial accountability that comes in and they look at everything and make sure everybody's salary is within what it ought to be for an organization of this size that we are. And then, we post it on the internet, all the money that comes in and what, and where it's going and so on. And so, my point is this: there are two reasons why we want to do the money right here. We have a real board of directors, not just my mama and me and my wife on the board. We have a real board of directors. And there's two reasons why I want that. It's because, number one, I don't want to go to jail. And number two, I don't want to go to hell. Therefore, you will never have to worry about me stealing money.
What touched me about this story is generosity in this woman's heart was so extravagant. It challenged me personally. Judas called it a waste, but Jesus called it worship. It was so extravagant that it stunned Jesus. There are three levels of giving taught in the Bible. The first level is the tithe. The first level is the tithe. The second level is the offering. The third level is the extravagant offerings. These are the three levels of giving that are biblical. You cannot give the second and third level, the offering and the extravagant offering, unless you first measure up to the lowest level of giving in the kingdom of God, which is the tithe. If you make $100.000, God says, "Honor Me with the first fruits of ten percent," so your tithe would be $10.000.
If you make $1.000 a week, your tithe would be $100. If you make $500, your tithe would be $50. If you make $100, your tithe would be $10. If you made one dollar, your tithe would be ten cents. And God says, "I'll bless you, open the windows of heaven on ten cents as much as I would on, if you made a million dollars and your tithe was $100.000". If you ever want to get to the second level, you do the first level and God opens the window of heaven, pours you out so much that suddenly you move beyond tithing to your local church. And that's biblical. He said, "Bring it into the storehouse". It's not plural. It's not three percent to your aunt and two percent to this person and somewhere over there and this ministry... No. You find a church. You get planted in that church, and your tithe belongs there. And then, there's offering.
Well, what do you do with that? The Bible called 'em free will offerings. How much? Free will; whatever you want to give. Sometimes you give to the church. Sometimes God says, "Give to that waitress". Put a $100 bill under a track and hand it to her and say, "God loves you and I do, too," and walk out of there. Sometimes it's holy handshakes. You just walk up and the Lord lays somebody on you and you get a $50 bill and shake their hand and say, "Hey, be blessed this week". And what is that? That's a free will offering. It's a free will offering. But then, there's the third and highest level that God will move you into. If you'll be faithful with the tithe, which is the lowest level, and you'll be, you'll just begin to give offerings. And that's when it's a joy. That's when it's not like it's, you enjoy giving. It's just common. It's just what you do. You just don't even think about it. You love to be a blessing. Then you can move into the third level, which is extravagant giving.
All along, God will come along and say, "I want you to be an extravagant giver in this situation". And that's the truth. Only a few reach that outrageous extravagant offering level. But that's where the greatest joy is. Do you remember the story, the widow who had two mites, which would be the equivalent of two pennies? And the Bible said, "Jesus stood watching them bring the offering and He watched". And I thought, well, I need to move my chair up on the platform and watch when the offering, 'cause Jesus watched. Just relax. You know, some of you always get upset stomachs right at offering time, every Sunday. It's amazing.
But watch this. Jesus is watching and the Bible said the rich people are bringing gifts and He's watching and He's nodding and He's watching. And here comes this widow woman with two mites, or two pennies. And she drops it in and Jesus is so moved that He stops the whole offering and He says, "She has done more than all of you put together with her two cents because it was extravagant to her; it's all that she had". It's not the amount; it's your heart. It's your heart. Are you willing? She could have said what so many, "When I have a lot, I'll give a lot. If I had more, I'd do more". But if you won't do anything with what you have now... You are either passing that test or failing that test with what you have right now. And if God can't trust you to tithe on $30.000 a year, how can He trust you to tithe on $300.000 a year? If you're a thief at 30, you'll be a thief, a bigger thief at 300.000. I didn't say it; God did.
Did you feel the oxygen just go out of the room? Am I preaching the word? You know, I read that the other day, Malachi 3... Since you're looking at me partly cloudy, I'm going to teach the word of God a minute. Malachi 3:8, he said, "You've robbed Me". And they said, "How have we robbed You"? And He said, "You've robbed Me in tithes and..." Notice, it's different. I told you it's different. "...tithes and offerings". I just throw it all together and God knows..." No, tithe, the lowest level, ten percent; and above that, anything you want to give, offerings. But here's what got me. I thought He meant "you've robbed Me; you're ripping Me off," but He doesn't just mean it that way.
He means, "You're robbing Me, God, of the opportunity to open My window and pour you out... I'm your Father. I love to see you do well. I want to give you so much. I want to put so much favor. I want to open doors. I want to take you to places. I want to use you for My glory. I want to bless your children and your children's children. I'm thinking generations down the road, and you're robbing Me of that with your selfishness, your lack of trust in Me. You're robbing Me". What did He say you're robbing Him of? "Of Me opening the window of heaven, pouring you out a blessing you won't have room enough to receive". He said, "I rebuke... You're robbing Me of the ability. I want to rebuke the devourer for your sake".
It's pretty amazing. We get it all mixed up. We get the Judas spirit that just says, "All they're after is the money," but you don't give any anyhow, so don't worry about it. We're doing what we want to do. We love this. This is what we do. This is why we're here. This is what our life is about. It's about the church and Christ and the kingdom. This is who we live for. He is our Savior. This is what matters to us, so don't criticize us. We don't do it 'cause we have to. And we don't do it around here. We don't come begging. We don't do that. We don't need it that bad. We do it because we love Him.
God can ask us for the extravagant because He's given the extravagant through His Son Jesus Christ. But I want you to see something, and this is a big point. If you're taking notes, write it down. A generous heart comes from a grateful heart. Alright, now watch. Come in here with me. I'm almost done, but I want you to lean in real strong. A generous heart always comes from a grateful heart. Don't ever expect people to be generous who are not grateful. Now, why, in John 12, would a woman take one year's wages, a bottle of perfume that cost one year's income, and break it open and begin to pour it? Now, John said, John 11 says on His feet; but if you read Mark 14, it said that she poured it on His head and His feet and His body. Why would she do that? One year's wages.
Come on. This is a real story. Why would she do that? A generous heart always comes from a grateful heart. In order to understand the act of extravagant worship in John 11, or John 12, you have to back up to John 11. Well, what happened in John 11? She had a brother by the name of Lazarus. And he was dead. And he had been dead for three days. And Jesus came to the grave and He stood and He said, "Roll away the stone". And they rolled away the stone. And Jesus said, Jesus said, "Lazarus, come forth". And I love the next verse. And the Bible said He said that he that was bound hand and foot in grave clothes, his face was wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said, "Loose him, and let him go". That was her brother. That was her brother, listen, that was raised from the dead. You hadn't got it yet.
So now, in John 11, she has seen her dead brother raised from the dead. And you say, "Well, I guess I would be extravagant if God did a miracle for me and my family". You were dead in trespasses and sins. Your children were dead in trespasses and sins. They were on their way, but grace and blood and mercy and the cross and the name of Jesus has raised them, loosed them, rolled the stone away and so she's so moved. Now, I want you to get what was taking place. Because she's so moved that approximately a month later, 'Cause I don't know if you read it, but read John 12 where it talks about that Lazarus is at the table with Jesus. The dead man that was raised are eating a meal and she's so moved at the picture of Jesus sitting at the table with her dead brother that has been raised and given his life back that she can't stand it.
And a generous heart always comes from a grateful heart. And she's so moved with gratitude that she throws the apron off and says, "Martha, I'm sorry; you keep cooking. I got to go get my one year wages of ointment. I've got to do something extravagant because I'm so grateful". Listen to them laughing. Listen to Lazarus and Jesus telling stories and kicking back and eating and enjoying the meal. And all of a sudden, in the middle of that, she breaks it open and she's weeping and she's worshiping. And Judas is criticizing, sitting over there with an attitude. And then, Jesus says something profound. He says, "You leave her alone, for she is anointing Me for My burial".
Now, here's what's interesting. Jesus was six days from being crucified when this story happens. And when she started anointing His, according to Mark 14, His head and His feet, she was doing, she had no idea what her extravagant offering was going to do for the body of Christ, but she poured it on Him. Six days later, He would die on Calvary and they would take that body down quick because the Passover was coming in and they had to be done. The Sabbath was coming and they had to be done and normally, when someone was crucified, if it was a Jew, they would then anoint them for burial on the spot. But they didn't have time. They didn't have time.
So they had to rush and put Him in there unprepared. How do you know they didn't anoint Him? Because the Bible said, "Early Sunday morning, three days later, that the," or the next day actually, after He was crucified, the women came with spices to anoint His body. But on the third day, He had already risen, when they were bringing the spices. What I'm saying to you is this: she had no idea that she put the anointing on Jesus' body, that He was anointed to raise from the dead. She had put it on His body. She had buried Him, she had anointed Him for His burial. And so, when He stepped out of that tomb, the anointing that He was under was a part of the extravagant gift that that woman had given Him.
And we have no idea, when we give to the kingdom of God, how that gift of extravagant offerings and gifts that we give in sacrifice, we have no idea how God will ultimately cause souls to be impacted. Every time we tell that story, we have to tell the story of that woman, because it was her anointing gift of extravagance that was on Jesus' body. She's forever associated with the gospel.
And I close with this point, and I want you to get it. Generosity is always rewarded by God. Hebrews 11 said, "He's a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him". Did He reward that woman? The Bible said Jesus said, "Wherever the gospel is preached, I want 'em to talk about this woman and her extravagant offering as a memorial to her. Give me an extravagant offering". Can I pray for you this morning? Y'all receive this today? Do you receive it in the right spirit? Do you believe that God could challenge you today to step up to one of these levels? If you hear His voice, I promise you, you'll never out-give God. Never. And all we're going to do is take it and populate heaven and plunder hell and reach more souls than we've ever reached for the glory of Jesus Christ.
I want every person in this room to raise your hand straight up toward heaven and say, "God, I am so grateful. I am so grateful. My heart is so grateful that I want it to be generous, so teach me how to be generous. I don't want the nature of Satan, which is selfishness. I want the nature of God, which is generosity. So give it to me today". Now, everybody, pray this out loud.
Lord Jesus, today I give You what You really want. I surrender my life completely to You. You don't want my stuff; You want me. You want my heart, and I give You my life, completely, for Your will. And my life is going to bring glory to Your name from this day forward. Now, raise those hands toward heaven and say, "God, I thank You that today You're doing a work in my life, in my family, and I receive. I receive".