Basic Training – Living Life in the Kingdom of God: A Generous Heart
Essential evidence of a redeemed heart and life is a generous spirit. Some people are naturally giving in their personality, but for most of us we need to be redeemed in this area. We are taught by our nature and experience to operate with self-interest in the lead. Jesus sets a different example and, as always, He wants to redeem our whole life not just our behaviors.
Why the Heart is What Matters
- Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
- Luke 16:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
- Luke 12:12 “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one ‘s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
- Luke 16:10-11 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
In Acts we see lives being lived out together in loving submission to Jesus and joined together as a family on His mission. As we look at Acts 4:32-37, we can see that there are some hallmarks or evidences of a generous Spirit.
- Acts 4:32–37 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Note that the verse immediately preceding this account of generous living (4:31) points to them being filled with the Holy Spirit. The heart of God is generous. The Holy Spirit has been generously poured out on us, and through faith in Jesus we are redeemed and being transformed to live the generous life that Jesus has for us.
Here are some hallmarks or evidences of a Holy Spirit-fueled generous heart and life:
UNITY – Acts 4:32 “One heart and soul.” Generosity is essential to having unity.
- Jesus prayed in John 17 “that we would be one” and we see this fulfilled in Acts 4.
- A generous spirit prefers others before themselves which is a key to unity.
MISSION – Acts 4:33
- “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…”
- Jesus was generously poured out for the sake of the world to seek and save that which was lost. As we become more and more like him, we join with him on that mission.
LOVE – Acts 4:34, “There was not a needy person among them.”
- The Holy Spirit leads us to supply each other needs. Your money reveals your priorities. If you love, you will give.
- Generosity is way more fun than paying bills!!
LEADERSHIP – Barnabas
- The Bible discloses what he gave, giving him as a positive example of a generous heart.
- You see him later as he is trusted with true riches and is sent to get Paul who wrote most of the New Testament!
TRUST – 4:37 “brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet”
- Generous giving is evidence of trust.
- Trust in God with your life, future and provision.
- Trust in the leaders God has given to lead His church that you are a part of.
Jesus often preached in contrast, so let’s follow that example, and the story, to see what the nature and evidence of a greedy heart are.
EVIDENCE of a GREEDY spirit:
- Acts 5:1-11 “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles ‘feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land. While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things”
- Taking what doesn’t belong to you (cheating on taxes, getting paid for time you don’t work, taking what you don’t have a right to have).
- Not that they weren’t generous, they weren’t obedient to the Holy Spirit.
- Looking for the praise of men not the glory of God.
- “You didn’t just lie to men, but you lied to God.”
- Acts 5:3: “Why has Satan filled your heart?” Ananias and Sapphira knew the love of Jesus, and they could choose to walk with Jesus or keep their money. They tried to have both.
- We don’t negotiate with God; we obey him. Jesus is our treasure. When Satan fills our heart, we desire the gifts not the giver.
- Greed is always looking for a co-conspirator.
Ultimately, God is looking at our hearts because out of it your life is lived, words are spoken, and love is given. It really comes down to being part of the Kingdom of God and who owns and runs your life. Take a moment to consider your heart; does it belong to you or can Jesus give your heart to who he wishes. Consider your time; is Jesus in charge of directing how you spend you time on earth that he gave you? Consider your treasure; as he has given everything to you, can he direct what you give it to? Ultimately it comes down to who leads your life and who stewards it.
Ownership VS Stewardship
- Ownership leads to greed.
- Stewardship leads to generosity.
- Good Stewards Love and Care for More People