Generosity Changes the World
Pastor Rachel Billups
When you live a generous life—you are already rich.
It doesn’t matter how much money is in your bank account.
When we ignore being generous, we ignore the basics of the faith.
When we lack generosity it’s a sign of a deeper spiritual issue.
“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3: 6-12 NIV).
Ok…take a deep breath. This is pretty direct language from the prophet Malachi.
“Test me”? I don’t know anywhere else in scripture we get permission to test God.
This is a big deal.
Even Jesus, when confronted and tested by Satan in the wilderness quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 saying, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4: 7 NIV).
The God of the universe gives us the opportunity to test God’s math, to prove God’s generosity, to step out in faith to experience God’s abundance.
What if we took God up on God’s offer? Like, actually brought our whole tithe, that is 10 percent of our income, to our hub of livelihood, the storehouse, that is the church, and discover what happens?
I had to grow into tithing when I was in my twenties.
What I discovered is that when I gave the first 10 percent to God, suddenly I had more money. It wasn’t magic–God just multiplied opportunities for me to earn more income.
As we trust God to provide, God provides.
It’s like the story of wildnerness manna from the book of Exodus.
It’s not going to be too much and it’s not going to be too little.
It’s not a get rich quick scheme.
This is about having integrity.
Faith to do your part.
So START SOMEWHERE. Test God in this. See what happens.
You have God’s permission.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” Malachi 3:10
For most readers of the Old Testament, resources were tied up in the cultivation of land. The storehouse was the place in the Temple that tithed grain was stored. The storehouse was the center of sustainable life.
The Church is meant to be the center of sustainable life–a place where everyone is invited to the table for faith, family, and food!
When the whole tithe comes to the storehouse, it can be maximized into the places and spaces that God directs those resources to go.
Malachi proclaimed this message to God’s people because they had stopped this very simple, yet extremely significant proactive of generosity.
I can’t say this enough—it’s not about the money. It’s about our hearts.
The more disciplined we are with our earning, saving, and spending, the more resources we will have to give away!
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11: 24-25 NIV).
When you make a contribution, your life will have value and worth.
It’s time to embrace your greater purpose in God’s bigger plan.
CHANGING THE WORLD
Earlier this year I remembered a story about University Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. During the COVID-19 pandemic, University Church’s sanctuary was destroyed by Hurricane Laura, only to be hit by another hurricane, Delta, six weeks later. Lake Charles then experienced a terrible freeze in February and a super flood in May.
I felt compelled to call University United Methodist Church and left a voicemail for Pastor Angela Bulhof, who soon called me back.
“Rachel,” Pastor Angela said, “half of my Leadership Board members are still living in mobile trailers in their driveways.”
Forgotten by national media, the people of University Church have deep concern for the most vulnerable of their community.
Before the end of the call, Pastor Angela shared: “when I heard your voicemail, I started weeping. It was a sign that God hasn’t forgotten us!”
God leads us to spaces and places devastated and forgotten. Lake Charles is one of those places.
Ginghamsburg has a history of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We have given $10 million dollars to jump start agricultural programs, build schools for women in Muslim communities, free children from indentured servanthood, supply safe water to livestock and hundreds of thousands of people… we have bought 30,000 malaria nets, provided safety kits for refugees and rebuilt homes destroyed by hurricanes and floods. We have built a mobile grocery store, planted churches, and made sure people got professional counseling even if they couldn’t pay for it.
If Ginghamsburg didn’t exist, do you think the world would grieve?
After deploying over 100 teams to the gulf after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we are no stranger to Louisiana.
Mother Teresa said, “what we build might be destroyed in a day, build anyway!”
The mission of Jesus is nearly always costly, messy and inconvenient.
Let’s follow Jesus anyway.