With Room- "Venti in a Grande Cup"
How do we live with room for generosity?
Pastor Terry Inman
With Room is about learning to live with some margins. Artists call it white space. It’s the gap we leave vacant below life’s brim. We have to pour off the excess to make room for the important! We talked about making room for spirituality and humanity—today its room for generosity.
My usual coffee order at Starbucks is a double tall cappuccino—two shots of espresso in a small cup—more coffee and less milk! Other wise no matter what I order it comes out a latte. So I downsize the cup so there’s more room for caffeine and less room for cream.
Many of us are pouring a venti (24 oz) life into a grande (16 oz) cup. We are over-committed and overspending our resources. We’re not just brimful were overfull! We have no room left for generosity. We need to downsize our consumption and upsize our capacity.
With room might be money left over at the end of the month. It might be money available to help someone in need. It could be funds to make God and his work a priority. It could be money to do the things we really enjoy.
Room could be the ability to give and not feel stressed—to give joyfully!
Financial margins might even give us the ability to have time margins.
Prov. 21:20 NIV says, “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.
This scripture does NOT say:
- In the house of the wealthy there is ROOM
- In the house of the two-income family there is ROOM
- In the house of the person with the best job there is ROOM
It says, In the house of the WISE...there is more than enough!
Last week we touched on the passage from Ephesians that tells us to live as wise and not unwise, making the most of each opportunity?
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Eph. 5.15-16 NIV
We talked about managing our time in a way that makes room for God’s best. Today we are talking about managing our things. We want to leave room for the best with out all the stress.
Most of us really want to be generous. Recent research suggests that the human mind is hard wired for generosity. We want to tithe. We want give back to God the first portion our income. But unfortunately many are over indebted, over-committed and underfunded. We don’t think we can give the way we want too. We may even feel a little guilty about it.
There is hope. There is a solution. It may take us a while but we can downsize our consumption and upsize our contributions. Generosity begins with contentment—being content with less content in our cup!
We live in a very materialistic culture. It’s not easy to be satisfied with less substance and more significance. There’s even a lot of confusion with prosperity and spirituality in church. The prosperity gospel is an attractive heresy because we would all like to have a little more.
Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
1 Tim. 6:6-10 NIV
Someone said, “it’s the lack of money that’s the root of all-evil”.
Money isn’t evil—it’s the love of money that leads to evil. Paul says that contentment is great gain—it’s profitable!
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be contentwith what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Heb. 13.5 NIV
What’s more valuable, a little extra cash or the presence and provision of God?
Money can create financial stress, economic pressure, and debt load. There can be a lot of tension in our families over finances. Financial stress is one of the top reasons for divorce.
Unresolved issues over spending, savings and financial decision-making can be very damaging to marriage. In our two-income culture, financial inequities over, which person brings home the bacon, can also stressful.
We think what we have is an income problem, but it's more likely a lifestyle problem. It’s a spiritual issue. We know intuitively that the way to have financial room is to earn more, and spend less. It’s so simple...we all know that! So why can't we do it?
There is a deeper issue. We literally buy into what our culture defines as happiness. Happiness is in more than I currently have! Happiness is having what someone else has. So just charge it! It’s what drives our economy.
Jesus offed a solution to financial stress—talking to some subsistence farmers and fishermen he said, So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6.31-33 NIV
The principle of putting God first in our finances runs throughout the scriptures. We just need to understand the purpose of it. Tithing the first portion of our income is a tangible means of honoring and trusting God.
Honor the Lord with your wealth. Give him the first share of all your crops. Then your storerooms will be so full they can't hold everything. Your huge jars will spill over with fresh wine. Prov. 3:9-10 NIV
When we give to God “off the top” he gives back over the top!
God was to be worshiped through giving of the first crops and livestock. It was a way of acknowledging that everything comes from him.
“Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today”
Deut. 8.17-18 NIV
God gave His son first, while we were still sinners.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5.8 NIV)
I give to God first because God gave first to redeem me.
Financial room begins with putting God first in our finances. The bible says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.”
Lev. 27.30 NIV
“Holy” means consecrated or dedicated to God. When we reserve the first portion of our earnings for God and His work we “make room” for his blessing on the rest of our lives.
When we choose to withhold his portion we hurt ourselves. In the book of Malachi, God’s people were fasting and praying for his favor. They were actually praying for an end to the drought and famine. When he didn’t answer they complained. One of the things he corrected them for was failure to tithe. They were not giving him the first and best.
You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—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 you will not have room enough for it. Talk about “making room”! We think we don’t have enough room to give. He says, “give and you won’t have enough room to store the blessings.”
He promises not only provision and but protection when we tithe.
I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit, says the LORD Almighty. Mal. 3.9-11
God’s blessings go way beyond pouring out a mountain of cash. His blessings don’t consume more room they create more room!
Paul was encouraging the Corinthian Church to be generous with the struggling believers in Jerusalem.It was their “One Day to Feed the World”. Paul says generosity results in increase and gratitude.
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Cor. 9.10-11NIV
How do we put God first in our finances? Become a person that intently and consistently “makes room” for giving as part of your worship.
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up… 1Cor. 16.2 NIV
There are several ways to do this. You can put cash or a check in an envelope on Sunday as a tangible expression of worship. If you don’t have cash or checks you can use your debit or credit card in our two giving kiosks at each end of our lobby.
You can give online with your PC tablet or smart phone. One of the best ways to be consistent with your giving is to automate your giving though your bank or bill-pay software. Why not automate the important!
Pray and ask God what He’d like to do through your money. Not just with our giving but with our spending. Sometimes we give like we are paying dues. Giving is a spiritual act. It should be done joyfully and expectantly.
Also let our Father know what you need when you give. Luke’s version of a verse I quoted earlier makes a wonderful promise.
Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.Luke 12.31-32 NIV
Make more room for generosity. Ask God to give you contentment. Ask God to give you peace and satisfaction in your finances. Then celebrate the many ways God is blessing you!