Highest form of Sacrifice
- Radical generosity does not depend on the amount but on the level of sacrifice.
Luke 21:1-4 “Jesus looked up and saw the richputting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widowput in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
In this story, Jesus contracts the giving of the rich and the poor widow at the temple. Jesus’ response is two fold: First, he QUANTIFIES the giving, Second, he exposes the MOTIVE behind the giving.
Obedience to give must be accompanied by the right motive that is driven by an act total surrender. Her giving was was motivated by: Obedience God’s command; Trust in God’s provision; and Commitment to God’s work. Jesus did not judge the giving by amount given but also by the value placed on what was given and how it was given.
2Cor 9:6 – “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure…8And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” When we intentionally invest, the chances are that we will reap back enough to give away. Generosity starts with the attitude of the heart.
2 Kings 4:8-37 provides us with a story of a shunammite woman. This was a prominent woman who created for herself the opportunity to be a blessing. It was within her convictions to be a blesser of people.
V8 One day Elisha went to Shunem. A prominent woman (she was a leading or notable lady; who we are not told in what area) who lived there persuaded him to eat some food (she voluntarily offered the food). So whenever he passed by, he stopped there to eat (since Elijah was a regular traveller that side, he stopped here for food). 9 Then she said to her husband (invited the husband to be part of the act of blessing this stranger),“I know that the one who often passes by here is a holy man of God (she discovered that this man was a servant of God/ we are not told how), 10 so let’s make a small room upstairs and put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp there for him (provided a home for the the stranger in their house). Whenever he comes, he can stay there (Elijah would no longer be a stranger, passerby but one who dwells among them).”
The acts of hospitality by the Shunammite Woman reveals several facts:
- She seized the opportunity to do good to a stranger. Gal 6:10 “while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.”
- She built a relationship and connected her giving to a cause “I know that the one who often passes by here is a holy man of God.”
- She made room for Elijah in their house “let’s make a small room upstairs and put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp there for him. Whenever he comes, he can stay there.” Elijah moved from being a stranger to be a resident.
- Radical generosity is in the little things of life that others may take for granted or see no value in doing.
By providing room for the man of God to dwell, their provision to his needs was now part of their family culture. Radical generosity must become our kingdom culture. Giving must not only be just something we do, it has to be part of who we are! Heb. 13:16 “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” While the poor widow gave only 2 copper coins, the rich gave from their abundance. On her part, the shunammite woman SAWan opportunity and GRABBEDit so as to meet the needs of a stranger.
By opening her house to a stranger, she embraced a new culture of caring and supplying to the needs of the man of God.
- Leviticus 25:35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger.”
- Matthew 25:35 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me”
- Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Radical generosity opens a door of witness about a God who cares for all. It moved from acts of love to becoming a kingdom culture. The culture of the Early Church was defined by: unity around the need, personal and collective resolve, community care.
Acts 4:32 – 35 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…”
Radical generosity has the ability to release the miraculous in the giver.
Our involvement in radical generosity by the grace of God activates the doors of heaven to open on our behalf.
When to the shunammite, Elijah’s visit could have viewed as normal, to the man of God it was time for the doors of heaven to open on her household. Even when she did not ask for prayer, God had already seen her need.
When Elijah comes by her house one day, he orders theattendant Gehazi, to Call the Shunammite woman.Elijah asks Gehazi to ask her if she had any need. “Look, you’ve gone to all this trouble for us. What can we do for you?” When the woman declines help, Gehazi reveals her real need, “she has no son, and her husband is old.” This must have been tough on her for them to not have an heir.
Of interest is the fact that, the woman’s giving did not have strings attached. Her answer was swift, “I live among my own people [in peace and security and need no special favors].” Although she was in need, the motivation behind her giving was not selfish. She gave because it was a lifestyle and that she wanted to be a blessing to others.
Until giving becomes a lifestyle and a culture for us, we will depend on stimuli to respond. When giving becomes a culture, it attracts the approval and blessing from God.
Gehazi’s revelation that this woman had no son and that her husband was old, Elijah gives her a promise. In response, “She said, “No, my lord. O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.” God’s promises is for the upright in heart.
Like the Macedonian church who gave out of their poverty, this woman did not let her need keep her from being generous. Not having a son was a big deal for in this culture she lived in.
However, instead of allowing shame to cover her, she continued to do good. Speaking about the church in Macedonia, Paul puts it plainly in 2 Cor 8:1:1-5. Such generosity is only possible by God’s grace. “we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme povertywelled up in rich generosity.”
Look at this mathematics with me: SEVERE TRIALS + EXTREME POVERTY = RADICAL GENEROSITY. This generosity was covered with overflowing joy.
- Radical generosity results in exponential acts in the life of the giver.
According to Paul, God’s grace enables us overcome barriers to generous giving. “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharingin this service to the Lord’s people.”
God’s grace also enables us not only to give more, but to seek out more opportunities to be generous.
2Cor 9:10 “For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosityein you. 11Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.”
Bishop Philip Kitoto