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First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Generosity” [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 21, 2021

Introductory Comments:

Have you ever been around someone and you really wanted to emulate the traits that they exhibit? Perhaps they are smooth-talking and you think to yourself, “Man, I wish I was smooth-talking.” Or, perhaps someone has a great ability to tell jokes and you think, “I wish I could tell jokes like that.” Maybe you wish you were as athletic as they were, as musically talented as they were, or preached as well as they did. Well, one trait that I see in certain other people that I wish that I was really good at displaying is generosity. I really want to be more generous and I’m challenged and encouraged when I see other people being generous. 

Today, we will be speaking about generosity. Let’s first ask ourselves, from where does generosity come?

Well, what does the Bible say?

James says in James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” [on screen] So, every good thing, including generosity comes from God. 

Also, we see God displaying generosity towards us, do we not?

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.” [on screen]

Psalm 36:7-8 says, “How priceless your faithful love is, God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They are filled from the abundance of your house. You let them drink from your refreshing stream.” [on screen]

Of course, God’s greatest act of generosity was in sending His Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sins. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [on screen]

So, the Bible clearly says that generosity comes from God, is given by God, and is exhibited by God. To be generous is to display the gifts of God in your life and to be like God Himself. 

So, I think it’s fair to say that if we are followers of God, we should seek to be generous. 

Well, let’s talk some about generosity. Before we do, let’s pray together.


So, we know that generosity comes from God, but what is the motivation for generosity in our lives?

Let’s look back at God’s motivation for generosity. Look, again, at John 3:16. “For God loved the world in this way . . .” [on screen]

What was God’s motivation in being generous to the world? It was love!

Because God loves, God is generous. 

So also, when we love, it should lead to us being generous. 

So, first, we must recognize that . . .

Generosity is motivated by love . . . [on screen]

Well, we talk about love around here from time to time, don’t we?

After all, we exist to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others. 

So, how do we display generosity in these areas? How is our generosity motivated by love in these areas?

Let’s talk about that for a few minutes. 

First, generosity is motivated by love . . .

. . . for God. [on screen]

Because we understand who God is, because we submit to His lordship, and because we love Him, we are motivated to be generous. 

When we understand who God is, we understand that everything belongs to God in the first place. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord.” [on screen]

So, generosity towards God’s ways starts with understanding that everything belongs to God. In fact, the Bible teaches that when we withhold generosity towards God, it’s actually as if we are robbing God. Malachi 3:8-10 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!” “How do we rob you?” you ask. “By not making the payments of the tenth and the contributions. You are suffering under a curse, yet you—the whole nation—are still robbing me. Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Test me in this way,” says the Lord of Armies. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.” [on screen]

If we love God, we will be generous with all of our life towards the ways of God. We will be generous with our time, with our resources, and with our energy. Everything belongs to God and when we are selfish towards the ways of God, we are actually robbing God. 

Now, you might not think that you are able to be generous towards the kingdom of God. You might think that you barely have enough to pay your bills now. 

Well, let me say to you, God would not call you to do something that He doesn’t expect you to do. We can trust God to take care of us when we are generous for His sake. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” [on screen]

God will always be faithful to us, so let us be faithful to Him. You’ve probably heard it said, we can’t out-give God. That’s true; we can never be more generous than He is. Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” [on screen]

So, let your love for God motivate you to be generous. 

Second, generosity is motivated by love . . .

. . . for the church. [on screen]

Did you know that generosity is one of the distinguishing features that make the church, the church?

Paul speaks of generosity being an opportunity from God for the local church. As he speaks to the church of Philippi Paul says to them in Philippians 4:17, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account.” [on screen]

Paul says that it’s one thing for him to receive a gift from them but he also wants the church in Philippi to be blessed and to be faithful in their service to the Lord by the act of giving. 

As the church, we have an opportunity to worship God and be part of God’s work by being generous with our resources, our time, and our energy. 

Sometimes people say to me, “Pastor, I don’t have much to give to the church.” Well, this is what Jesus said about giving a little or a lot. He says in Luke 16:10, “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.” [on screen]

So, if you only have a little to give, give that little faithfully. If you’ve got a lot to give, give a lot faithfully. Be faithful to the church; be obedient to the Lord!

So, just because you have a little bit to give doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give. Jesus addressed this more directly when He spoke of what a poor widow gave in the temple treasury. Jesus said in Mark 12:41-44, “Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.” [on screen]

So, as a church, let us be faithful in being generous. 

When the church is truly generous, amazing things happen. We saw this in the early Church, just after Jesus left the earth. The picture of the generosity of the early church was radical and foreign to what we know today. Acts 4:32 says, “Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.” [on screen] People were so generous towards one another during the early days of Christianity that it was as if everyone just shared everything willingly, freely, and happily. 

Now, often when we think about generosity in the church, we think about tithing. 

What about tithing? [on screen]

First of all, the tradition of the church has far and away been to give a tithe, or ten percent, of one’s income to the Lord through the local church. 

To be sure, when it comes to figuring out a percentage of what we should give from the pages of the Bible, we are pointed again and again to the tithe, particularly in the Old Testament. 

The tithe is indeed a biblical model, but it is not the complete biblical model. 

When we turn to the New Testament and we examine the commands of Jesus, the instruction of the apostles, and the model of the early church; the standard of generosity seems to be much more than ten percent. In fact, at times the standard is one hundred percent. 

So what are we to do with this? Here’s my conclusion on the matter:

The minimum standard for God’s people giving to the work of the Lord has consistently seemed to be at least ten percent. So, if you don’t know where to start with your giving to the work of the Lord, start with ten percent of your income. 

However, it’s important for us to know that the tithe is not meant to be a cap to what we should give to the work of the Lord, it seems to be more of a starting point. Some of us should be giving away more than ten percent to the work of the church. I have no doubt that some of you are in fact giving more than ten percent.

Here’s the point: Ten percent is a good place to aim as you start to be generous, but it should not be the ending point. [on screen]

So, let us be generous in our love towards the church! Not just with our money, but in our service, in our time, and in our resources. 

Finally, generosity is motivated by love . . .

. . . for others. [on screen]

When we are generous, it’s not only an act of obedience, it’s not only a matter of glorifying the Lord, but it’s also a big blessing to others. 

Remember, earlier, Paul said that it was for their profit that the church in Philippi gave to his ministry. However, now Paul says something additional. Listen to how Paul speaks of their offering in Philippians 4. He says in verse 18, “But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” [on screen]

So, when we give to others, it is a blessing to them and it is pleasing in God’s sight: a fragrant offering and an acceptable sacrifice. 

Also, sometimes, God’s grace can be shown through us, to others, by us being generous. In fact, Paul speaks of the churches of Macedonia who were being generous, even when they were in poverty. He says in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.” [on screen]

Paul says here that God’s grace is being shown through generosity and he also says that God’s will is being done through generosity. 

Listen, church: when you are generous to others through the giving of your time, resources, and energy, you are actually showing the grace of God and accomplishing the will of God! How incredible is that?

So, be motivated to be generous because of your love for others. 

Concluding Thoughts:

In 1980 Pete Townshend sang, “Let my love open the door to your heart.” Well, I say to you, church, let God’s love open the door of your heart to generosity. If we love as God loves, let us be generous as God is generous. 

Let our love for God motivate us to be generous, let our love for the church motivate us to be generous, and let our love for others motivate us to be generous. 

That takes us to our bottom line:

Bottom Line: A heart full of love will be a heart full of generosity[on screen]


Love is the motivation that we need to be a people of generosity. If we truly love someone, we will be generous towards them with our time, with our talent, and with our treasure. 

Challenge yourself to live out this passage in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

1. Determine how you will love God by being generous. [on screen]

You can love God by being generous with time spent with God and for the glory of God. Don’t spend your time for yourself, spend it for God. You can be generous towards God by serving Him. Also, of course, you can love by giving towards the work of God. 

Now, some of you may think that you can’t afford to give towards the glory of God and the work of God. My response is that you can’t afford not to. The blessings that God gives from obedience to Him are better than anything that this world has to offer. As we read earlier in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Listen to how God provided for Elijah when Elijah was faithful to God. First Kings 17:8-16 says, 

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon and stay there. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.” So Elijah got up and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow gathering wood. Elijah called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup and let me drink.” As she went to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”

But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I don’t have anything baked—only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die.”

Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.’”

So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days. The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the Lord he had spoken through Elijah. [on screen]

So, start with what you have and be faithful. God will provide for you, and I’m not talking about merely money and resources. God will give you what you truly need. Living with open hands before God is always better than living with closed fists for ourselves. 

2. Determine how you will love the church by being generous. [on screen]

Here are some practical ways that you can be generous in the church:

You can be generous by serving the church. I’m thankful for so many who serve the church. We have teams, committees, teachers, greeters, and more who serve the church every week. Some serve in ways that people know about and some serve in ways that no one knows about. Thank you for serving! Continue to think about how you will be generous towards the church by serving. 

Also, you can be generous towards the church through your giving. Did you know that we can’t do what we do without your giving? We literally could not pay our staff, maintain our buildings, and do the ministry we do without your giving. So, not only does the Bible teach that we ought to be generous towards the church, but on a practical level, generosity from the church is necessary for us to do what we do. 

We have a wonderful opportunity to show generosity to our church this year through our end-of-year giving. I’m not exactly sure why, but our giving is down by a little over $40,000 this year. We’re growing, we’re reaching new people, and yet our giving is down. However, I’m fully convinced that we can not only close that financial gap, but we can surpass it and finish the year with extra money. God can do that through us. 

So, determine how you will love the church by being generous. Perhaps God has called you to serve in some new way; perhaps He’s called you to give in a greater way. 

Let us be generous, let us love greatly, and let us be faithful. 

Finally, . . . 

3. Determine how you will love others by being generous. [on screen]

How can you spend your time, talents, and treasure to love others? Perhaps you can show an act of generous love for a neighbor. Perhaps you can encourage some shop owners downtown. Perhaps you can spend time with someone who doesn’t have any family. 

Be generous by loving others. Take some this week to think through how you can live out God’s Word. 


Generosity is motivated by love. Have you been changed by God’s love? If so, live a generous life. If not, be changed now. 

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

Response Song – Jesus Paid it All

(Concluding material covered by Pastor Richard Jones)

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