Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Happiness’

The Unexpected Benefits of Generosity

April 15, 2015 9 comments

Money is a hot topic in our culture. Everyone wants more of it, anyone can get it, few seem to keep it and even fewer gladly give it. There are spenders, investors and savers, but there aren’t nearly as many givers.

The Money Trap

In America money is king. We look to it for security, happiness and freedom. We hoard it to make ourselves feel safe from potential disasters like illness, unemployment and unexpected expenses.  We spend it on frivolous pursuits like excessive shopping, expensive dinners and extravagant vacations to temporarily gratify our appetite for pleasure. Worst of all, we pursue it tirelessly working ourselves to the bone 60+ hours per week at sometimes two or even three jobs because we believe the lie that if we could some how get more of it we would be free to retire, work less and play more.

The sad reality is that money always promises, but never delivers (at least not permanently). It promises security, but breeds worry when our bank account isn’t as full as we’d hoped.  It promises happiness, but often results in disappointment when the things we buy lose their appeal. It promises freedom, but only enslaves us to our jobs and our debts.

Promises Fulfilled

The good news is that Jesus always delivers on what he promises.  Where money fails, Jesus succeeds.  Through Christ believers enjoy eternal security in the Father’s love. Since no one can undo what Jesus has done, no one can take that security away.

Through Christ believers enjoy eternal satisfaction.  Money and possessions will always lose their appeal.  Goods get more expensive and clothes wear out, but God’s presence is never ending.  Through Jesus believers live in and enjoy God’s presence for all of eternity. This is a happiness that truly satisfies.

Best of all, through Jesus believers enjoy lasting freedom.  In Christ, we are free from the anxiety, the temporary gratifications and bondage that money brings.  We are free to be at peace in God’s provision, free to enjoy the eternal satisfaction of God’s presence and free to enjoy life without the need for a never ending pursuit of material possessions.

Image via makinghistorygrow.wordpress.com

Image via makinghistorygrow.wordpress.com

The Benefits of Generosity

One of the best ways to experience more of the security, happiness and freedom that are in Jesus is to become a more generous giver.  Here are five reasons why.

1. Generosity increases our dependence on Jesus. So much of our well-being is tied to the strangle hold that money has on us. When we give generously we have no choice but to trust the Lord to be and do for us what we were looking to money to be and do for us. It is through generosity that money’s grip on us is severed and Christ’s unending supply is realized.

2. Generosity increases our delight in God. Money is important to us because of the value that we ascribe to it. By giving it away we remind ourselves that God is infinitely more valuable than anything money can buy. It is through generosity that God becomes an infinite treasure from whom we enjoy unending pleasure.

3. Generosity increases our contentment. By giving away what we cannot keep, we discover that which we cannot lose. Generosity teaches us to enjoy more of God by wanting less of this world. It gives us a deeper experience of Jesus by making room for him to fill our hearts, something he cannot do when we let money crowd that space.

4. Generosity multiplies our blessings. This is true in two ways. First, by giving to others we get to share our joy with them.  When this happens other people get to enjoy God’s blessings with us.  Second, by giving to others we are storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  If we keep it to ourselves we get to enjoy it now.  If we give it away we’ll enjoy it exponentially more in the kingdom.

5. Generosity advances the kingdom of God. Church planting, oversees missions, church operations and leadership training all cost money. By investing our money into the things of God we get the joy of advancing of the kingdom of God. Why wouldn’t we want to be used of God to extend his glory in all the earth?

Money can either be a god we worship or a tool with which we worship God. When money reigns supreme in our lives we miss out on the fullness of God. By giving generously, however, we learn to enjoy God for all that he’s worth. Don’t let money take from you that which only God can give you. Jesus has secured for you everything you need before God. Give yourself room to experience more of that by becoming a generous giver!

Advertisements

When Your Well Runs Dry

March 30, 2015 3 comments

We’ve all been there.  Early mornings, long days and late nights trying to fulfill all of our obligations. Work, family, school, bills, entertainment, volunteer work, exercise, hobbies, managing a social life and keeping up on social media, all while trying to pursue our ever elusive dreams.

It’s not uncommon for American’s to work 50-60 hours a week, to sleep less than six, to fill our weekends with sporting events and social gatherings, then to spend Sunday evening frantically trying to squeeze every ounce of joy out of life before having to do it all over again on Monday. It doesn’t take long for the American Dream to become the American Nightmare.

Image via blueinkalchemy.com

Image via blueinkalchemy.com

We’re overworked, under-rested, exhausted, frustrated and always one step away from burn out. Our dreams manage to stay elusively out of reach or we obtain them and they fail to deliver. Our days are filled with stress and our nights with worry. What if I can’t cut it? Will everything I’m living for be what I hoped it will? Is it even worth it?  Each day is a treadmill and the life we want is always just out of reach.

Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places

At this point, we want someone to tell us that we can do it, our dreams are within reach and the life we’ve always wanted is just around the corner. The truth is, our dreams demand more than we can give and always promise what they cannot deliver.

In Luke 9:23-25 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

The prophet Haggai likewise declares, “You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).

The Unexpected Let Down of Getting What We Want

Even if we obtain what we’re pursuing it will eventually fool us and fail us.  It temporarily gratifies, but it does not eternally satisfy. Take New England Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady for example.  The guy has won four Super Bowls, has a supermodel wife, is famous and has more possessions than the average person can dream of.

Yet in an interview with 60 Minutes he said that he “didn’t expect winning to come with so much baggage.” After his third Super Bowl win he asked with desperation, “why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still feel like something is missing?” Maybe the Lord was right, life “does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15) Neither does it consist in the achieving of one’s dreams.

Getting Life from the Source

Proverbs 4:23 says it best when it warns readers to “guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” This is a warning to be cautious about what we source our lives in.  This isn’t to say that our dreams are bad, it’s to say that they’re a poor place to put our hope.  If our life is sourced in anything other than Jesus we are going to run dry because nothing can be for us and do for us what only he can be and do.

Life isn’t found in the achieving of one’s dreams it’s found in Jesus, the giver of life.  He is the only well that won’t run dry because he is the only source that is eternal. When our lives are sourced in Jesus we are free to pursue the dreams God has put into our hearts without being enslaved by them.  We are also free to move on to the other things God has in store when life doesn’t go according to plan.

More importantly, we have to understand that our dreams can’t give us what we really want, only Jesus can.  We pursue fame to feel important, money to feel secure and friends to feel accepted.  These aren’t bad things, but they will often fail to deliver that which we desire.

When our lives are sourced in Jesus we have all the significance, security and acceptance we need. We will be free from tirelessly chasing empty promises because we won’t need them to give us what we already have in Christ. The tighter we hold onto the fleeting pleasures of this world, the more we’ll miss out on the eternal satisfaction of God. 

%d bloggers like this: