What Happened Next #7 - Practice Extravagant Generosity Acts 4:32-37
Q. How do I let the holy Spirit into my wallet or purse.
A. Open your wallet and repeat after me “Help Yourself” (Spike Milligan). “All things come from you and of your own do we give you” (C of E Communion Service).
Pass around a £20 note. See if gets back to the front! Why would it? “It doesn't belong to me.”
What happens when HS comes? We respond. Personal & Social Restoration. Talk about Jesus. Bold action in the face of opposition. Get together to pray then - Extravagant generosity.
Extravagant Generosity is a Kingdom Issue.
This weeks Alpha Course reminded me of the priority of Jesus teaching on The Kingdom. His message, now entrusted to the disciples was, “The Kingdom of God is near” and Kingdom here means, not some geographical or political area but where ever God has His way, where His rule is established. Salvation, Justice, Peace, Reconciliation, Forgiveness, Healing, And in Jesus teaching this is both “now” and “not yet”.
OT view: We live in the evil Present age. THEN The New Age begins when the messiah comes then everything is made perfect.
Jesus view: We live in the evil Present Age. Jesus comes. The New Age is inaugurated. There is a transition period as the Kingdom invades and overcomes. Jesus returns and the New Age is complete.
This is called "inaugurated eschatology".
This transition might be a straight line graph as everything steadily becomes more holy.
It might start very quickly and slowly taper off until perfection is reached.
It might start slowly but then grow exponentially.
It might be a combination of progress speeds.
It might even go up and down perhaps? We don't know. But we have to live in it, And we are here to work for, to pray for, the coming of the Kingdom.
Our expectations of God, our experience of God, our obedience to God , our relationship with God,
Our witness, our prayer life all need to come more and more into God's rule, God's kingdom as individuals, church and society. GOD RULES OK.
Sometimes the last thing to come under God's authority is our finances. – we need to practice extravagant generosity. From £Mine to £Yours
Extravagant Generosity is a Freedom Issue
It may be that this “now and not yet” takes off really well for your worshipping, for your Bible study, for your praying, for your fellowship together. But sometimes our giving gets trapped by our worldly values, it lags behind. Our voices say that “all I need is you” or “you are my everything” or “All I am I give to you”. Our prayers acknowledge that we depend on God for our well being, our health, our direction in life. Our study gives us greater store of conviction about the truth of God's love for us shown in all the He has given for us in Jesus.
Then we come to church and put £10 or £5 or sometimes something that goes “clink” in the offering. Well what does extravagant giving look like? Is is extravagant to spend £100 on a meal for two at a Restaurant? Is it extravagant to spend £100 on a pair of jeans? Is it extravagant to spend £100 on a makeover? So, if you take home £1000 a monthly tithe is £100, 2000 - £200 and pro-rata. and anything above this might be considered extravagant. Only the first disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit didn't do that. That's what the Pharisee and Sadducee did. Those who rejected Jesus. Those who didn't have the Spirit. The others, our forebears in faith, did things a bit differently. They gave. No limit. To those in need. Acts 4:34-5 “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money, and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as they had need”. They were free. As Jesus taught “Freely you have received. Freely give.” If you don't know that you have been given then it is hard to give.
Extravagant Generosity is a Blessing Issue.
Jesus spoke about this in Luke 21:4 “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’ This woman who put in her last 5p was considered more generous that the wealthy who gave fortunes in a public manner because she gave extravagantly “all she had to live on”. Its not the amount – its the attitude. Its not how much – its how generous. Its not about getting it right to earn more brownie points – its about making sure that you are living in the freedom of God's Kingdom where He will provide. So we make a mistake when we talk about 10% or 5% and when we excuse those living on pensions or benefits as if they are excluded from extravagant generosity. Its not an obligation. Its a blessing and a joy that sets you free.
Extravagant Generosity is a Holy Spirit Issue.
We are not saying “Do more of this to get more HS power” - that's a common mistake in the church. We just need to know that in the Kingdom “all things come from you and of your own do we give you”
We just need to know that so we have freedom to respond so that no one is in need.
We just need to know that in Jesus God will also give us every blessing. Rom 8:32 “He who did not spare his only Son but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.”
This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
So when God says “Open your wallet and repeat after me” We can joyfully respond 'Help Yourself!'”