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Simultaneous Transformation

Simultaneous Transformation

In the book The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg, he introduces the idea of keystone habits.

“Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.” Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habits

Today I want to talk to you about a habit that can not only transform everything but transform everyone. Just think about it: Wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a habit that had the power to simultaneously transform your life and many others? This is what I want to talk about today in a message I’m calling, “Simultaneous Transformation”.  By the way:

Proverbs 11:24-25 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.

The giver gains. The withholder loses.

Math is one of those things that you either love or hate. How many of you would say that you just love math? How many of you hate math? Well, whether you love it or hate it, know this: Math in the kingdom of God just works different.

Normal Math: If I give, you win and I lose.

Kingdom Math: If I give, you win and I win. If I refuse to give, you lose and I lose.

One person gives and they get even more. I know this isn’t common sense, but I’m not looking for a life of only common sense. I’ve experienced this reality. When we launched the HOME Initiative at the end of 2019, Shauna and I made the largest financial commitment of our lives. I didn’t know where all of that would come from or exactly how everything else for our family would be taken care of, but God provided in ways I never could have guessed.

Another withholds and comes to poverty. 

“What we hold on to always diminishes. What we give away always multiplies.” Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus

The happiest people are not the ones who hold onto everything.

One person gives freely. Isn’t it interesting that the things we assumed would put us in bondage can actually give us our freedom? And the things we thought would lead to our freedom actually put us in chains?

A scarcity mindset shrinks your life, while an abundance mindset enlarges your life.

One person gives freely. It’s a “get to”, not a “have to”. We all need to stop asking: To follow Jesus, what do I have to do? How much time with God do I have to spend? How much do I have to serve? how much do I HAVE TO give? Start asking: How much time do I get to spend with God? How much do I get to serve? How much do I GET TO give? Do it freely and cheerfully. 

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Giving FREELY is better than giving RELUCTANTLY.

A generous person will prosper. This word literally means to “make fat”.

2 Corinthians 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Generosity simultaneously brings transformation to the giver and the receiver.

What the practice of generosity does for the giver:

  • Greed loosens its grip on us.
  • We move from storing up treasure on earth to storing up treasure in heaven.
  • It builds our trust in God to provide for us rather than ultimately trusting money to provide for us.
  • It makes us more like Jesus, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
  • It reminds us of what actually matters most.

What the practice of generosity does for others:

  • It provides for their tangible needs.
  • It gives them experiences and opportunities to place their faith in Jesus and step into His purpose for their lives.
  • It allows us to impact our local and global partners in a massive way.
  • It provides physical spaces for people to encounter the presence of God.

For almost a year now, our staff team has been thinking about these 4 elements being necessary for the kinds of transformation we want our church community to experience. Here they are:

Elements for Transformation:

  • The Tangible Presence of God
  • Formation through Practices and Rhythms 
  • A Deeply Shared Life with Others Pursuing Jesus
  • Giving Our Lives Away for the Sake of the Mission

The practice of generous giving hits all four of these.

The presence of God in my life keeps me from focusing on all I think is absent from my life. God loves a cheerful giver. 

We make generosity a habit. We give every time we get paid. We decide on the front-end how much we’re going to give out of how much we make. We set up recurring giving. We start putting giving on the top line of our budget rather than on the bottom line.

A deeply shared life means we willingly cover each other’s needs. It also means that when you and I combine our generosity, we can do things together that none of us could do all by ourselves.

Last year we gave over $500,000 to The Hope Project to provide for our local and global partners. I couldn’t do that all by myself and neither could you…but together we could make a huge difference.

The same thing will be true as we buy and build out 414 Brannan Street. I can’t buy this building for our church and you can’t buy this building for our church. However, when we all come together, it’s pretty amazing what can be done.

And then the 4th one is probably most obvious when talking about generosity – giving our lives away. 

I know there’s so much that you and I want to be great at. Paul realizes that and tells us here’s another thing to add to our list:

2 Corinthians 8:7 But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

By the way, transformation in any area doesn’t usually come from asking, “What’s the least I can do in this area?”

As you think about your own transformation up to this point in your life, reflect on this:

Who’s generosity has paved the way for your transformation?

For me – my dad’s generosity has marked my life.

I think about a few friends whose generosity has stunned me.

And of course, I think about the generosity of Jesus to me.

Imagine your generosity paving the way for others.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Where do we need to be transformation to happen in our lives? We need transformation to happen in any area of our lives where Jesus thinks or believes differently than we do.

So in the area of giving and generosity, here’s the question: 

What does Jesus believe about generosity that you don’t yet believe? 

For you – is it a lack of trust that God will take care of you? Is it greed? Is it fear?

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this same way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Don’t be arrogant. 

Don’t put your hope in wealth. 

Put your hope in God. He provides us with so much to enjoy.

Be rich in good deeds. Be generous and willing to share.

Lay up treasure for the coming age.

Take hold of life that is truly life.

What are you going to take hold of?

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Here at Epic you’ll discover we’re often talking about two things over and over. The first one is this and it’s for everyone here: Start where you are today. Wherever you are, that’s the only place you can begin.

But here’s the other thing you’ll hear over and over: Wherever you are today, there is a next step to take. The same is true for giving:

If you’ve been giving nothing, just start giving something.

If you’ve been giving something occasionally, start giving proportionally and consistently.

Choose a %. 3, 5, 7. Start a plan to get your giving up to a tithe - 10%.

Start making a plan to give above and beyond.

Sometimes I find myself trying to talk people out of their generosity. Our oldest child graduated high school in May and we threw a party for him. He made the invite list. And what people said about him and the gifts people gave to him blew me away. It’s almost like I wanted to say, “That’s too much.” But then I looked around and all of these people are thanking us that they got to be a part. And their generosity towards him brought them so much joy. And instead of trying to talk them out of their generosity, I just began praying that their generosity marks the rest of his life. See generosity has this incredible power to transform the lives of the ones who give and the ones who receive.

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