Joyce Meyer - The Beauty Of Generosity
Philippians chapter 4, verse 5, this scripture has been catching my attention a lot lately, and I'm actually feeling like I may bring this scripture up in a lot of my conferences this year. It simply says, "Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit)," which means long suffering and patient spirit. "The Lord is near he is coming soon".
Now, you know, the apostle Paul, and many of the other apostles, they talked a lot about Jesus is coming soon. And I particularly like this verse because he's saying, now, he's saying, "Let's make sure that we're pressing in and living right". And so, one of the things we need to really kinda shore up on is don't be selfish, nobody needs that today, right? You're all good. Nobody here is selfish. This is for somebody who didn't come, but I'll preach it anyway. He says, "Let all men know and see your unselfishness. Be considerate, be forbearing," and why? "Because the Lord is near, he's coming soon".
You see, I'm kind of the opinion, and I got this somewhere last year in my teaching, I became convinced that we need to talk more about the second coming of Christ. I do believe the Lord is coming soon. And you know you might say, "Well, you know, they believed that too and look how long that's been". Well, I agree with that but all I know is if they thought it was soon, then I need to really blow the trumpet because my soon is sooner than their soon. And I feel that we have a responsibility to keep reminding people, "Hey listen, it's not gonna be that long and we're gonna stand before the Lord". "Every man, every woman, every person, none left out, will stand before the Lord and give an account of their life".
Now, I don't know about you but I don't find that I am just naturally generous. I don't find generosity on the list in Galatians of the works of the flesh. One of the works of my flesh is not generosity. Matter of fact, thank God that he has changed me a great deal, but selfishness is so inherent in our flesh that if we don't guard against it, you know, the Bible says, "Guard yourselves". And so, we have to guard against these things and I believe that sometimes that requires taking a little inventory of your life and just maybe even saying something to yourself like, "What have I done for anybody else in the last week"?
I'm going over here. You guys are not... Come on, we gotta have a little encouragement, amen? I mean, just to say to yourself once a week, I mean, if you would just put this into your week, put it on your calendar to once a week, just have a five-minute meeting with yourself. Did you ever think of having a meeting with yourself? I have meetings with myself all the time. We need to do that. And just ask yourself, "What have I done for anybody else in the last 7 days"? Hmm, all right.
All right now, Isaiah 32:8, "But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things: and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous". I actually wanna read this again. This is such a powerful scripture, "But the noble man", and, you know, we probably don't even know what that word means. It's not a word that you even hear that much anymore. It means to have very high moral principles and ideals. It is a person who works for what is right and a person who is very virtuous. So, "The noble, openhearted, liberal man devices noble things and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous". He is a large hearted person. Don't be small-souled, all shrunk up and just no room in your life for anybody but you.
Now, we should think about the beauty of that kind of a person. You know, there's a word that I wish we used in this country more often and it's the word "Beautiful". When you go to Australia, everything, it's like, beautiful. I mean, if you get a good meal, it's beautiful. If you hear a good song, it's beautiful. If somebody does something kind, it's beautiful. I love to hang out with Darlene Zschech, don't get to as often as I used to, but I love to hang out with her because she just is, "Oh, it's beautiful. That's so beautiful. Wow, that's beautiful". And you know what? Beauty is attractive. We're drawn to beauty.
When I sit and think about things that I enjoy the most in my life, one of the things that I enjoy is just beautiful things, beautiful scenery, a beautiful tree, a beautiful piece of furniture, anything. I just like beauty. And you know why we're like that? Because God loves beauty. And I think that he wants to look at us a little more often and say, "Beautiful". Amen? I think when you look at your life and say, "You know what? I'm not gonna put up with this out of myself. I haven't really done anything for anybody in the last couple of weeks. I'mma get busy here and be a greater blessing". I believe God says, "Beautiful, that's beautiful".
You know what? When we are giving in any way, shape, or form, whether it's a compliment, an offering, some time to somebody, when we're giving, I think we're more like God than at any other time in our life. For that moment, we're more like God, you know why? Because God is a giver. For God so loved the world that he gave, and he didn't just give what he had to give. He gave his best, come on now. He gave his best. It is astounding what God gave us. I mean, my gosh, who could ever understand what he has given us and what he's done for us while you were still yet in sin? Didn't know him, didn't care to know him, didn't want to know him, were happy in your sin, he sent his only son to die for us. Wow, who does that?
Maybe for a really cool person you might do a little something, but who does anything for the biggest rat you know? We don't do that, but God can teach us to do that. This is why he says, this is why he says those really hard, hard things like, "Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you". And the Amplified Bible says, "Bless those who abuse you and misuse you. Pray for your enemies and bless them". And really to be honest, it's not even, when you do that, you're not, you're not even really do anything for them because half the time they don't even care but you're doing something for yourself. You're adding some beauty to your life. You no longer have to be this little, small-souled, shrunk-up person who just sits in your pitiful place and hates everybody. "Well, you just don't know"... All the promises of God are available to whosoever will.
Acts 2:46, you know, we look back at the early church and, man, we wish we had the power in the church today that they had then. Well, you read about the book of acts and you're just like, "What happened? Where'd all that power go"? "And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose," which means unity, "And in their homes they broke bread including the Lord's supper. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts". You know what we see right there? Why they were powerful. That's a large part of why they were powerful. They were simple, they were grateful, they got along, and they were generous with one another.
The Bible says that we are to be mindful, that means to sit down and actually think about what you might do for somebody else. Wouldn't that be a novel idea? You can do that when you have your meeting with yourself. Every single one of you knows somebody that you could do something for today. Somebody, one, two people out there like that. Everybody knows somebody that you could do something for today. Every one of you have a house full of stuff that you have not used in 10 years and somebody else is desperate for it but you're gonna hang on to it, just in case, just in case you need it.
Well, even if you did, you wouldn't know where it was, that's the way I am. I mean, I can't find it. Jehovah Jireh is one of the many names of God found in the Old Testament and it means the God of, barely get by. It means the God of more than enough. Or it means the God who provides or we might say the generous God. Everybody say, "God is generous". Ephesians 1:7 and 8, "In him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through his blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of his gracious favor".
I am so glad that God doesn't just give me a little bit of mercy but his mercy is new every day, every day. You're never gonna get up on any day and God say, "Whoops, you've used up all the mercy I had set aside for you". But we're like that with people sometimes, aren't we? It's like, "Listen, I am not going around this mountain again with you. I forgave you for that last week. I'm not doing it again".
Thank God that he's not stingy with his forgiveness, that he's not stingy with his help, that he's not stingy with his provision. God has not set aside a little, tiny bit, barely enough for us to get by on. He has given us more than enough. And you know what he wants our response to be to that? That we would do more than enough, that we would be excellent people that go the extra mile and we don't just do what we have to do, but we always wanna do more than what we have to do.
And you know what? I am just getting happier the more I talk about this. Honestly, I can feel my soul expanding. Oh, we are so off-track when all we have room for in our lives is us, and our problems, and our deal, and our wants, and our needs. Get over yourself. Just get over it and say, "God, what can I do for somebody else today"?
Well, generosity isn't natural. And let's put it like this: the less word that we have from the Bible, the less really right-on, anointed, spirit-led preaching we have from the pulpits, the more and more selfish the world becomes. That's why we must not, as ministers and teachers, tell people what they want to hear. We have to tell them what they need to hear. And hopefully what they need is what they want. But if they don't want it, that's what we gotta feed 'em anyway. And if they don't wanna stay and hear it, then that's not my responsibility. Our responsibility is to love people, to never give up on them, to pray for them, and to speak the truth in love. Amen?
So, way back in Paul's day, when he wrote to Timothy, we find in 2 Timothy chapter 3, verse 2, the condition the world would be in, in the last days. "For people will be lovers of self, utterly self-centered, lovers of money, aroused by an inordinate greedy desire for wealth, proud and arrogant, contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane".
Well, I don't see anything on there that's missing today, do you? Now, c'mon, don't get depressed. That's not bad news. This is the era, the time, the year, that God has chosen us to be alive in the earth. C'mon, this is exciting. You're a believer in Christ. You came here today, you took off work. This is Friday morning. You came here today to be taught the Word of God. So, man, I'm gonna go for it. And I'm gonna say, "This is the condition of the world but it must not, it cannot, it dare not be our condition".
And so, we're gonna encourage one another to be generous. You know, there's actually scriptures that tell us that we are to continually encourage one another to be generous hearted. C'mon, we don't need to sit at lunch with our friends and gossip and do nothing but talk about all of our problems. Why don't you have lunch with a few people and talk about how you could be a blessing to somebody else? Boy, that would be enjoyable, wouldn't it?
As Christians, we must learn not to possess our possessions, 'cause really, the truth is nothing we have is truly ours. We are stewards and there's great stories in the Bible, great scriptures in the Bible, that tell us we are stewards and that the master is coming back to take an account of what we have been left with to see what we did with it and we will be rewarded accordingly. There's the payoff, amen? And see, if God has given you an assignment, the best thing in the world for you to do is just do your assignment and just keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up, and keep it up, and guard yourself that you don't get small-souled and selfish because the Lord is coming soon. You're gonna hear this from me this year.
I hope every time you turn the TV on, somewhere in there you're gonna hear, "The Lord is coming soon". I think we have to get ready and I think that we have to get people ready. And so see, this is the condition of the world, but this is not our condition. So what are we? We are lights. C'mon, this is so simple. The world is full of darkness. We are light. He is the light of the world. And we now represent him so we go out and all we gotta do is just shine. All we gotta do is just get the dirt off of our bulb and turn the lights on. C'mon, if you got a three-way bulb, get it off of dim and get it cranked up to the highest level, amen? I don't want any more of that mood lighting in my life.
My gosh, the hotel I'm in this time, you can't even hardly see yourself. I'm, like... Everything looks yellow. I look yellow. Man, I like light. Sometimes, when I go out and do a conference like this and I'm in a hotel like that, I mean, I know why they don't do it. They don't want their bills to be high. But I would like to see myself when I'm in the hotel. I mean, honestly, if I'm not careful by the time I get out of there, I'm almost starting to feel a little bit oppressed. We need light. The world would not feel so oppressed if we would get out there and shine.
I felt like the Lord showed me one time, I felt like he said this, "I've got my people everywhere". They're in factories, they're in schools, they're in colleges. They're in government. They're in the marketplace, they're in the grocery stores. We're everywhere. But nobody knows it. We're everywhere but nobody knows it because we're hiding. C'mon, we need to turn the light up and the easiest way to do that is just start being kind to people. Don't be part of the gossip. Don't be part of the strife. Don't be part of the backbiting. Don't sit and complain all the time when you're so blessed.
My gosh. Oh, I'm getting so excited, I may have to jump off the platform. We must learn not to possess our possessions but to live with a wide-open hand and an open heart. I wanna be a beautiful person, not just in the way I look but inwardly. I wanna have a beautiful heart and a beautiful soul. And when I get around people, I want them to feel like I left a deposit. Now, selfishness seems normal to the unregenerate man. So we really kinda, sorta, can't blame people that are not saved. They just don't even have a frame of reference for anything else. I mean, they are just gonna be selfish because that's just all they know. But one of the things we can do is teach people by example.
I'm telling you, I have learned a lot from Dave by him just being an example. I grew up in a home where I didn't have a good example. I didn't know what peace was. I mean, I literally did not know what it felt like because everything around me all the time was anger and turmoil and strife and I didn't know what it was. And I kinda thought, "What is wrong with you," when I married Dave. I mean, I wanted to fight with him, I wanted to argue. That was what I fed on. That was what I lived on. Anyway, I better not get off in that ditch but, actually, he was consistent. Everybody say, "Consistent".
So now, we gotta park there for just a minute. If you're gonna be a witness out in the world, you gotta be consistent. Same way, every day, every day, every day, every day, every day, every day, every day, every day. The greatest compliment that anybody can ever give you is, "This person is a great person and they are the same way every time you get around 'em". The same way. Can I tell you something? You never really know anybody until you see them in every kind of a situation. That's why you don't necessarily know who you're marrying because you've had 12 dates. Date 'em long enough to go through the fire a little bit with 'em. C'mon.
Now, Dave and I did not do that. We had, what, five dates? Three? Five dates and got married. But in my case, I had so much wrong with me that God had to just do it quick or Dave would have never, and our situation really was divine. I mean, it truly was a royal set-up from God, you know? You just don't find a man that's great enough to be married to a woman like me and let me do what I'm doing and be happy every single day of his life. And Dave is so loving and so good to me. And he's actually gotten better as he's gotten older. I mean, ladies, Dave does dishes. He does laundry. He steams my clothes if I need him to. He fills up the humidifier. And he plays golf, lots and lots and lots of golf. And he watches baseball and basketball and tennis and golf and what else, I dunno. Football, bowling, I mean, anything. If it bounces or rolls, Dave's in.
And for the first, I dunno, maybe 20, 25 years when we were married, I just grumbling. You know, he didn't wash dishes then. He didn't do laundry. C'mon, you can't nag somebody into being what you want 'em to be. Okay, movin' on. Don't have time for any more husband stories. We need to get out in the world and be an example. We need to fight greed. Let's talk for a minute about the ugliness of greed and stinginess. Eugh! Certainly not beautiful.
Proverbs 28:25, "He who is of a greedy spirit stirs up strife, but he who puts his trust in the Lord shall be enriched and blessed". The greedy man who has no peace and he's never satisfied. Luke 12:15 says, "Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, and the greedy longings to have more): for a man's life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs".
One of the ways to guard ourselves from greed is to be aggressively generous. This is so important that Paul even told the Corinthians that they were not to associate with greedy, grasping people. He said, "Don't spend a lot of time with 'em". You know why? What's on other people gets off on us. 1 Corinthians 5:9 through 11, "I wrote you in my previous letter not to associate closely and habitually," you can't avoid all stingy people but you don't have to, you know, let 'em become your best buddy, "With unchaste (impure) people, not meaning of course that you must altogether shun the immoral people of the world, or the greedy graspers and the cheats or the thieves and the idolaters, since otherwise you would just need to get out of the world and human society altogether"!
I think Paul had a revelation. In 1 Timothy 3:8 and Titus 1:7, Paul said that those who are in leadership in the church must not be greedy. Wow, it's sad, indeed, when we see someone in ministry blessed to the point where then they start misusing the money that's been put into their hands to preach the Gospel with and nothing does more damage to the attitude of the world toward ministry and the body of Christ than those kinds of examples. That's why it's very important that it is men and women of character that are put in leadership and that they have accountability.
When people have no accountability, I don't know that there are very many people that even have the capability of staying on the right track if they have zero accountability in their life. If there's no other reason to be part of a local church, it's that reason because maybe if you don't come for 6 months somebody will miss you and come looking for you to find out if you've fallen off the rails. Go to a church where people care about you. Don't go somewhere where you can be missing for 9 months and nobody even calls to see if you're dead or alive. Cause it's not about just, you know, doing your clock-in at church on Sunday and so you think you get your check Mark in heaven. It's about being accountable to some people.
That's one of the good reasons to get involved in something, in serving, because then, you kinda gotta show up. I don't know if you've noticed or not but I've never missed one of my meetings. In 40 years. There's only been 2 times in 40 years that I was unable to go and I sent somebody good to take my place and both of those times I was so sick I couldn't hardly move. I don't get up and say, "Well, do I wanna go today? Don't I wanna go today"?
And let me tell you something, I feel accountable to you. Our ministry has a board. My husband would get in my face in a flat second and so would any one of my four grown children if I did not maintain the standard that I preach. My son'll say once in awhile, "Uh... sounds a little proud to me, there". "Um, I think I heard you preach on patience last week". We need accountability. Don't just surround yourself with "Yes" people that are either gonna tell you... You're either gonna tell them what they wanna hear or you're gonna be out of their lives. That's not a relationship, amen? The selfish person is small-souled.
Okay, one of my favorite scriptures, Mark 8:34. "And Jesus called to him the throng with his disciples and said to them, if anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself forget himself, ignore himself, disown, and lose sight of himself and all of his own interests and take up his cross, and follow me". Well, that clap started kind of low. You know, I mean, that's a hard scripture. "You mean you just don't want me to care anything about myself at all"? And you know the first thing that comes up in us? "Well, what about me? Who's gonna take care of me? Who's gonna do anything for me"? Well, here's the thing. If we do it God's way, then he will take care of us.
So here's what I wanna tell you today. If you have spent your life trying to take care of yourself, you have no clue what God could do for you if you would have a big retirement party, retire from self-care, and put yourself in his hands and give your life to being a blessing everywhere you go. C'mon, I dare you. Take a step of faith and say, "God, I am finished serving myself, doting on myself, being frustrated every time self doesn't get what it wants. If you can't take care of me, then who can"? You know, what I told God, you know, if you're a little religious this might bother you but I'll just take a chance. I said, "Okay, God, if I'm gonna be your woman and this is what I'm gonna spend my life doing, then I wanna be a kept woman. You take care of me".
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the secret petitions and desires of your heart. Chase God and he will have things chase you. Generosity releases such good things in our own life. Wow! All scriptures here. Acts 10:1 through 4, "Now living at Caesarea there was a man whose name was Cornelius, a centurion (a captain) of what was known as the Italian regiment". Next verse, please. "A devout man who venerated God and treated him with reverential obedience, as did all of his household", now watch this, "And he gave much alms to the people and he prayed continually to God".
So, this man was a prayer and a giver. I wanna tell you what, when you learn how to be a prayer and a giver, the devil might as well get out of the way. A prayer and a giver. I wanna bring you back to simple. "Let's see, what have I done to help anybody else in the last week? Exhaling when was the last time I did something for somebody else? Have I ever done anything for anybody else"? When God sees my life, is he saying, "Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful," amen? You know what? I want God to be proud of us. Of every single one of us who call ourselves Christians, I want God to be proud of us. Amen? Amen. Alright, let's all stand up. Well, I hope you got something out of this, today. Alright, let's pray. We can't just walk out on something like that.
Father, we've all got a long way to go. I know, I do. And I wanna hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant". So, I pray that you would continue correcting us, chastising us, teaching us, leading us, guiding us. And Lord, that you would just not let us get by with living little, bitty, stingy, puny lives. Put needs in front of us, put people in front of us that have needs and help us be large-hearted enough to be ready to meet those needs. We love you, Lord. And I remember when you said to Peter, "Peter, do you love me? If you love me feed my sheep". We love you, Lord, and we want to help people. Keep working with us until we're doing exactly what you want us to do, in Jesus' name, amen.