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Generosity (3 of 4)

Mike Connell

Page 3 of 10
They made Him a supper and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Mary took a pound of costly (that word costly - you can underline that) oil of spikenard; she anointed the feet of Jesus, wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said: “Why isn't this fragrant oil sold for 300 denarii, and given to the poor”? He said that, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and he had the money box; and he used to steal.

Jesus said: “Leave her alone, she has kept this day, for the day of My burial. The poor you will always have with you, but Me, you do not always have.”

Firstly we just need to have an understanding of the word generous. Generous means literally: ‘to be liberal in your giving’. It means: ‘to be unselfish'. It means: to be free from any kind of meanness, or smallness; that is to be generous. To be generous, is to be liberal. It's an attitude of the heart that shows up in every area of your life, including finances.

The word that is the opposite of ‘generous’, is the word ‘selfish’. Other words that mean the same as selfish: you could say mean, stingy, withholding, those kinds of words. Do you know some people like that? What's in their heart flows over their money, and it's always mean; stingy; reluctant to give.

Another word we use is tight. Some Christians are so tight - and it's in every area of their life. It's never just in the money, but it shows up in the money first. It's an issue of heart.

Now think about this: we're born selfish, not generous. Notice with children, they're not born generous? Parents who've got little children they’re: mine! It's mine! You don't hear them saying: oh, I'd love to give it to you - you never hear a child saying that. Mine! Mine! Mine!

It's a shame if you're a Christian for a few years, and it's still: Mine! Mine! You come in, and someone sat in your seat: that's mine! This is what goes on! Someone parked in your car park - that's mine! Mine!

So ‘mine’ is what we're born with. It takes a work of the spirit to be generous; it takes the work of the spirit to stop us being selfish. That's the whole deal; so we've got a battle against selfishness and meanness all the time.

The first thing you think: there's not enough for me, I need to hold onto it. That's what goes on, you see it with children, and sometimes we grow up and we're still the same. It's still about me and mine.

Now selfishness originated with Satan. It's a trait in human nature that has demonic origin, demonic roots. Satan (or Lucifer) saw what God had, and he wanted it to become his. He said: It's mine - it's going to be mine! I will arise, I will... It'll be mine!

Then after he fell, everyone that's connected with him - it's the same thing, mine! Mine! And it's all about me and mine. We understand that. We learn to live with that see?

Notice here that generosity has exposed the heart of the mean person. I remember a funny situation that happened to me years ago. I was part of a leadership team (I was pastoring), and there were three people on the team, and one of the guys felt God leading him to go to Australia on a speaking engagement.

Anyway he said: “I must feel God doing that”, and I felt God say: “donate to him”. So I said: “oh, that's wonderful that God's put it in your heart, you're going there. I'd love to give you $100 towards your fare”. There was a stunned silence, and then an angry reaction, from someone who coveted what was happening, and was angry – “why should he have that?” Isn't that interesting?

So generosity exposes selfishness.

Now you notice that Mary does the totally unexpected: she comes in there, breaks that alabaster box of oil (we'll come into that, and how costly that is in a moment) breaks it, pours it over Jesus. Now she's extravagant - not with just her money. Notice that she's on her knees, and she's washing with her hair, wiping the hair and the oil and the dirt - and she's weeping. That is extravagant!