Joyce Meyer - Generosity
Well, it's so good to have you with us today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". And I really do hope and pray that you are enjoying every day of your life. Or if you're not, that some of the things that I teach you, can help you do that. Today, I wanna talk to you about generosity and gratitude. First of all, let me say that we all have so much to be thankful for. And you may think that you don't because you're focused on what you don't have. But if you start focusing on what you do have, you'll realize that you have more than maybe, you think that you do. If you have a roof over your head, some clothes to put on, and some food to eat, you're wealthier than most people in the world. If you get outside of the western world, we're so accustomed to having so many conveniences and so many things, but the rest of the world is not like that.
And not only to be thankful for things that we have but to be thankful for what God has done for us. I mean, if you just think about the fact that Jesus died for us and all of our sins can be forgiven with no condemnation and no reproach from God. We just think about, the amazing mercy of God, and his mercy is new every morning. I mean, there are so many things that we have to be thankful for. And thankfulness is really important because thankfulness makes us generous. And generous people put a smile on God's face. When I'm talking about generosity, I'm not just talking about money, I'm talking about just the whole way that we live. You know, the Bible tells us to always go the extra mile. And so, I want to challenge you today, to start always doing a little more than what you have to. Not just doing what you absolutely have to do. This is just an example. Suppose you got to work five minutes early, and you stayed five minutes past working time.
Now, I'm not saying that's what you have to do. But that's just the kind of thing that I'm talkin' аbout: to go the extra mile and do more than you have to do. And if you do that, you'll be the kind of person that God will be able to promote. Don't be stingy. Don't be greedy. Don't be selfish. Be as generous as you possibly can be. Generous people are happy people. Isaiah 32:8: "But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things: and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous". Just ponder the spiritual beauty of a generous man. You know, we talk about the early church in the Book of Acts and how powerful they were, and all the things that were happening there. And one of the things that we read about them, is it says, "And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord's supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and with generous hearts".
They were generous people and really, they all had everything in common. They shared everything they had with other people. Jehovah-jireh is one of the many names of God in the Old Testament, and that means "The God of more than enough," the generous God. Aren't you glad that God is willing to give you more than enough, not just barely enough to get by on. In Malachi, it says to bring all your tithes and offerings into the storehouse and God will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings, so great, that you can't hardly take 'em in. I'm glad it doesn't say that he dribbles out blessings. God, pours out blessings on his people. And we need to pour out blessings on other people. Why don't you make a decision today, that you're not going to go one day in your life, where you don't do something for somebody else? It could just be listening to them. It could be complimenting them, encouraging them, it could be praying for them. Or I could be helping them by meeting a financial need that they have.
There's so many people in the world that are needy. They need so many things, and we have the ability to provide, and we need to do it, and do it generously. Ephesians 1:7 and 8 says, "In him we have redemption through the blood, the forgiveness of our sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace, that he lavished on us". That's part of the definition of generosity, to lavish. More than enough. Always, more than enough. Not just barely enough to get by, but always more than enough. Come on. I want you to be the kind of person that will go the extra mile, and live life with excellence. When we're being generous, for that moment in time, we are like God. I love that.
Let me say that again. When we're being generous, for that moment in time, we're like God, because God is generous. Oh, what he has done for us. How good God is, and what he has done for us. We should be so thankful and never complaining. And one of the ways that we can show our appreciation is by being generous to other people. Beautiful things are excellent, wonderful, appealing and they have drawing power. We're drawn to beautiful things: it touches our soul. We all love a beautiful story, a beautiful piece of art, the ocean, mountains, amazing landscapes. And often, when we see things like that, we say, "Beautiful. It's just beautiful". And you know, this is my own thought, but I believe when God sees a person being generous that, that's what he says, "Beautiful". I think it really makes God happy when we are good to one another.
Generous is defined as "Liberal, lavish, magnanimous, munificent, free-handed, unselfish, and abundant". And Deuteronomy 15:11 says, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land". One translation says, "Open your hands wide". I love that. Don't live like this. But be open-handed. "What do I have that you need"? You know, none of us are owners of anything. We're stewards of everything that God has given us. And so, really, this morning, when I prayed, of course, maybe, part of the thing that provoked prayer was studying for today but, I said, "God, I realize that I'm not an owner of anything. I'm a steward of everything. And that everything I have is something you've given to me, and I offer it to you today, for your service. If there's anything I have, that you want, let me know".
You know, that's a dangerous way to pray, because sometimes, he may just test us and see if we mean it. You know what? Generosity is not natural. It's not what the natural man wants to do. The Bible says, "In the last days that people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient, ungrateful, unholy". But that's not the way God wants us to be. In Galatians 5, it gives us a list of the traits of the flesh: "Sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfishness". I think it's interesting that we don't think that much about being selfish. We want what we want. We want people to give it to us. We're just gonna do what we want to do. But selfishness is listed in the acts of the flesh, right along with idolatry and witchcraft. That's pretty serious.
Jesus said, "If you wanna be my disciple, you have to forget yourself, lose sight of yourself, and all your own interests, and take up your cross and follow me". Well, man, that doesn't sound like a very fun way to live: forget myself, lose sight of myself, and all my own interests. But can I tell you a secret? If you'll do that, then God will pour out blessings on you. You know why? Because you cannot out give God. In Luke, it says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will men give into your bosom". Listen to that. "Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom".
You know, maybe, you're not used to giving much. Maybe, you think you can't afford to do that. But you know what? You can't afford not to. God even says in Malachi, "Try me, and see, if you bring all the tithes and offerings into the storehouse, if I won't open the windows of heaven. Try me". Wow. God's saying, "Come on. Put it to the test. Just do it and see what I do in your life". And remember, I'm not just talking about money. He was talking about money in Malachi, but I'm talking about just living with his open hearted attitude, where you care about other people even more than you care about yourself, and you want to make them happy. To pray for people, and to make them feel good about themselves. They say that people don't always remember what you said to them, but they always remember how you made them feel. Every time you're around somebody, make them feel good. There's enough people in the world putting everybody down. The devil does his job.
Let's go to work for God and make people feel good. As Christians, we must learn not to possess our possessions because we are stewards of God. A lot of people that are selfish, self-centered, have come to believe that the more they have, the more people serve them, the more powerful they are. But God tells us that the greatest man is the one who is the servant of all. You wanna be great, in God's eyes? Forget yourself, lose sight of yourself, and see how much you can do for other people. The flesh manifests, now, listen to this, the flesh manifests in greed, stinginess, miserliness, and possessiveness of things, and even people. It is jealous of what other people have. Proverbs 119 says, "Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain: it takes away the life of those who get it". Greed will steal your life.
Now, greed is a real thing. And it really, just, I guess, the best way to define greed is more. More. See, some of you think, right now, "Well, if I just had this certain amount of money, I'd never want anything else". Yes, you would. If you're living by the flesh, you definitely would. I mean, I can remember when I thought, "Oh, if I could ever just have a conference where a thousand people would show up. Oh, man, I would never want anything else". But you know what? I did. Then I wanted it to be two and three, and then, five and ten. The flesh can never be satisfied. That's why we need to learn how to walk in the spirit. And greed is a real thing. It'll steal your life. And the only way that we can fight greed is with generosity. "We overcome evil with good," Romans 12:21.
Every time your generous, you're fighting greed, you're keeping greed out of your life. Every time your generous, you're putting a smile on God's face and you're making the devil sad. But we have to be generous on purpose because it's not something that the flesh necessarily feels like doing. Proverbs 28:25 says, "The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper". The greedy man has no peace and is never satisfied. Luke 12:15: "Then he said to them, 'watch out. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed'". See, we gotta watch out for it. We gotta be on our guard against it. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
Now, here's a couple of scriptures that I find very interesting. 1 Corinthians, 5:9-11, Paul says, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave the world, altogether". In other words, he said, "I'm not telling you that you can never associate with anybody in the world that's greedy, or stingy, or sexually immoral, because that's just the way they live. And you couldn't ever be around anybody if you did that". But he said, "I am writing to you, that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister", in other words, "I'm writing you not to associate with another Christian, who is sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slander, a drunkard or a swindler. Don't even so much as eat a meal with such a person".
I mean, this is serious stuff. Greed is in the same list as idolatry, sexual immorality, witchcraft. Greediness is a terrible thing. Oh, I'll tell you, the devil loves it when we're greedy. He loves it when we're tight-fisted and stingy. Selfish people are small-souled people. They have little lives, little bitty lives. There's no room in their life for anybody but them. And you know, Jesus said love is the most important thing in the world. It's the greatest thing in the world. "Now abides faith, hope, and love: but the greatest of these is love". Oh, if we would all just love one another, and really know what love means. Love is not just a word we throw around, but it's how we treat people. How do you treat people? How do you treat people that, mmm...You don't like. You know, you can not like everything somebody does, and still love them, because love is not a feeling, it's how you decide to treat people. Love is most important thing in the Kingdom of God. Love is not selfish or self-seeking and does not insist on its own rights or its own way. I believe love is generous. Generosity releases good things in our life.
Let me tell you about a man, in the Bible, called Cornelius. And this guy wasn't even a "Christian" per se, he was a Roman soldier, but he was a God-fearing man, and he prayed, and he gave to the poor. And, "One day about three o'clock in the afternoon", this is in Acts chapter 10 verses 1-4, "One day at about three o'clock in the afternoon he had a vision. And he distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, 'Cornelius'. Cornelius stared at him in fear. And said, 'what is it, Lord'? And he asked the angel, and the angel answered", now, listen to this, "'your prayers and your gift to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God'". Now, you know what a memorial is. There are memorials that have lists of names of people, who have died, in World War I or World War II. There's a memorial that's got the names of all the people who died in the twin towers, on 911. Memorials are things that stand there. They never go away. They stand there reminding us of what those people did.
And God says here, "Your prayers and your gifts to the poor, have come up before me, as a memorial". God said, "I'll never forget what you've done for other people". Man, I love that. God blesses people that are generous. Proverbs 11:25: "A generous person will prosper: whoever refreshes others will be refreshed". Come on, just be honest with yourself today. If you're a selfish person, own it. I remember asking God, "Why am I not happy? I'm a Christian. I've got a ministry. I've got good kids. I've got a good husband. I've got a nice house. Two cars in the garage. No financial problems. Why am I not happy"? And the Lord spoke to me, very plainly, he said, "You're selfish". Oh, my gosh. That was such an important day in my life. See, you can't be selfish and happy. If you're selfish, own it. Ask God to forgive you, and to help you start being a generous person.
Now, I am really trying to help some people today. Some of you've been unhappy for a long time and you haven't known why. Well, you need to just do a complete turnaround. And instead of trying to get everything you can, you need to start seeing what all you can do for other people. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver". I always say, he'll take it from a stingy one, but he loves a cheerful giver. Make a decision and begin today, to not let any opportunity pass you by. There's opportunities everywhere we look, to make other people feel better. Opportunities to pray. When you hear that someone's sick, pray for them. Pray for the poor in the world. Pray for those that are lost. Pray for people that are without God.
Galatians 6:10 has been a life-changing scripture for me. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers". You know, I make plans to be a blessing to people. And I encourage you to do that. Don't just wait for God to almost force you to do something for somebody. Make plans. God's never going to get mad at you for being a blessing to somebody. Look around your house, at all the stuff you have that you're not using, and think about giving it to somebody else, who might really be blessed by it. Stop praying for God to do something for somebody, when you can do it yourself and just don't want to. "Oh, God, I pray that you would give, jane, at work, the money to pay her rent this month. She said that she can't pay her rent without a miracle. God, I pray that you'd give her what she needs". Well, how 'bout, if you give her what she needs? You say, "Well, I don't have that much money". Well, then, get busy, and go ask ten other people if they can pitch in something, and you can all do it together.
Somebody called us, two out of the last three years, and they know a widow lady who doesn't have enough money to pay her taxes on her house. And so, several of us, get together every year, and we contribute and pay her taxes. I don't even know the woman. I've never seen the woman. But I don't care, if she's got a need, I want to help. I'm able to do it, so I should do it. God wants us to do things like that. Proverbs 3:27 and 28 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it's in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'come back tomorrow and I'll give it to you', when you already have it with you". Boy, I don't know about you, but I like this teaching on generosity. This just makes me want to be even more generous. Remember, greed, it's just in the natural man. It's in the flesh. And we all still have a flesh. You gotta fight it. You gotta fight greed and the only way you can fight it is with generosity. It's gonna put a smile on God's face and make the devil mad.
You overcome evil with good. What can you do for somebody else? Ask yourself that every day. Pray, "God, show me what I can do for somebody else today. What can I do for somebody else today"? There's no way to be a beautiful generous person without some kind of sacrifice and that's where we get hung up. We don't wanna sacrifice. But let's remember, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life". That's what God's done for you. Now, what can you do for somebody else? You know, we do care about you. We love you. And I study real hard to bring you these messages, and all I want is for them to help you in your life, and for you to love God more, and live better, and give him more glory. Thank you for being with us today. God bless you. God's got a good plan for your life. And I'll pray that you'll tune in, again, tomorrow, when we'll have more of God's word.