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How generous should you be? Assessing your wealth and how to use it.

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Pastor Wayne has been talking about our core values as a church for the past several weeks. Values determine the experience of an organization to its customers, of people to their friends, and of the Church (Christians) to the world.

Generosity is another core value that determines how others experience who we are. We want people to experience Calvary as a generous church.

It’s been said if that if you want to know what someone values, look at their credit card statement. Would this be true for you? My guess is, probably not—and not because you are not generous. Your financial statements are not a comprehensive assessment of your resources.

Your wealth is a customized package for you to live a life of abundance toward God and others.

Define Your Wealth

When I lived in Tanzania as a young married woman without children, my neighbors and friends expressed continual concern for my future. “You have no children! How will you survive when you are old?”

My friends were East African farmers who measured wealth in a far more comprehensive way than we do. Their children ARE their 401K plan. Their extended family is their emergency savings. The rainy season is their equity for their crops

If we think about our wealth as more than just what’s in our bank accounts, we’ll come up with a few more resources too:

Your wealth package

  • Time
  • Expertise
  • Empathy
  • Talents
  • Abilities
  • Availability
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Opportunities

Everyone has, along with money, some measure of the above as well as a list of others. They comprise what we can think of as a “wealth package. ”  Your wealth package is customized to you so that you can live a life of abundance toward God and others.

This perspective toward wealth suggest potentially limitless possibilities that are often only realized by practicing generosity. Researchers show that the happiest people are people who give, and so many of our resources are not meant to spend solely on ourselves.

You are here for a greater reason than just you. Generosity confirms that we are the people of God, and our generosity has God’s backing. Below are a few ways to develop generosity as you practice it.

Four things generous people do...

4 things generous people do

1. Fire your inner judge. When faced with the needs of others, we tend to judge circumstances and behavior. If we perceive that someone's poor choices placed them in need, we default on generosity. “It wouldn’t be good for them,” we tell ourselves. “Enabling doesn’t solve their problems.” Such reasoning sounds logical, but it’s problematic in one crucial way. Jesus doesn’t seem to agree. He gave one reason to be generous-- when someone is in need (Matthew 5:42).

2. Resist fixed thinking. When things are good, we want to guard against change. When they are bad, discouragement tends to make us think change will never happen. Both circumstances can create a default in our generosity toward God and others. Remember instead that your wealth ebbs in some areas and flows in others. It changes, but your source of wealth never does and He knows what you need. Learn to recognize the multifaceted package of your own wealth and use it for others.

3. Crush feelings of envy. Sometimes it’s easier to weep with those who weep rather than rejoice with those who rejoice.  A “scarcity mindset,”  falsely believes that there is only so much of a resource to go around. We begin to resent people who get what we perceive we lack. Whether it’s money, a promotion, recognition, or a relationship, envy crushes us and others. Crush envy instead with generosity. The Apostle Paul lauded the Macedonian church  because they gave out of their poverty. You may at one time or another be poor in one area, but remember that wealth is a package. Use your other resources to invest in the abundance of others. Actively celebrate and promote the good things that happen to others--even when they have what you don’t. 

4. Practice gratitude. Scientific research has revealed numerous findings regarding the positive effects of gratitude. The very act of searching for something to be grateful for builds neurons in the frontal cortex of your brain, reduces stress, increases the immune system, strengthens cognitive function, and helps you get to sleep faster to name just a few. It also helps us live with an abundant mindset by moving your thoughts to the elements of your wealth package.  You see, whatever your brain thinks you can't have, that's what you'll focus on. (Do not think of an elephant in a pink polka dot tutu!!! How did that work for you?) Practicing gratitude leaves no room for thinking about your poverty because the abundance of the entire wealth package uniquely equips you to live abundantly toward God and others. (2 Peter 1:3). 

To hear Pastor Wayne's sermon on Core Values: Generous, go here!

 

Posted by Nan Maurer with

Throwing Away Your Spiritual Report Card

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When Carol Dweck was in the sixth grade, her teacher sat her and fellow students in rows, according to their IQ scores. The children who didn’t have high IQs were not allowed to carry the flag during assembly or wash the black board. Carol occupied the first seat, but she thinks it might have been just as uncomfortable for those in the last seats—you see, “you were only as good as your last test score…” she remembers.

Fifty years later, Carol Dweck, Stanford professor of psychology, would revolutionize the way educators think about intelligence and potential. Her studies revealed that what determined the degree of success for a child, was not their IQ or their talent--but what they believed about what they could become. That’s a fast and dirty summary of Dweck’s best-selling book called Mindset. It’s also a great example of how powerful revolutions come from insiders who knew along that something needed to be made right.

Pastor Wayne shared about one such revolution this past Sunday in our third of the series on Calvary’s core values: Grace and Truth. The revolutionary was Jesus. John 1:14-17 explains that He came in grace and truth (17), a mixture of two forces that complement one another in such a way that you cannot have one without the other.

When truth and grace come together

Some churches and people are truth oriented, fixed on standards or boundaries. John 1:17 compares this mindset to the Law—which defines our limitations. These people are only half right.

We have inherited a “sin IQ.” Truth-oriented people rightly know that our nature is fixed. No matter how hard we try, we can’t overcome it by ourselves. Jesus, however, was the insider who knew something needed to be made right.

The book of John calls Him the “Word.” That means that Jesus himself is truth. But He “became” something else for us—human. He became truth embodied in grace.

When truth requires accountability for your bad behavior; grace is right there, offering forgiveness for your failure. When truth sets a boundary around you, making you feel far from God; grace shows the pathway that is forged to the Father on your behalf. When truth magnifies your brokenness and failure; grace manages your restoration and your worthiness.


How grace and truth change you

It’s not that truth is ever overlooked. Jesus minced no words about the sinful woman in Luke 7. Her sins were many, he said—but they were forgiven by grace.

Receiving grace does something to you.

“Those who are forgiven much (given much grace), love much.”

People who recklessly embrace the grace because they know they are pardoned, are people who know they can become something more. You must have both--you can't be pardoned unless you accept the pardon (grace). You can't be pardoned unless you know you need to be (truth).  

Without grace and truth, love isn't love--and we aren't like Jesus. But with both, we become like Him. 

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Like the students in Carol Dweck’s class—how “successful” you will be in carrying out the command to love others does not depend on your last spiritual test score. What you believe about grace and truth does.

To listen to the audio of Pastor Wayne’s sermon on Grace and Truth go to here.  

Posted by Nan Maurer with

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