Live Generously

In order to grow we need to give

8. Live Generously

Tell your Growth Coach about a time you’ve been generous and why you were. Ask them to share a story about their own growing in generosity. 

Training

Often generosity is only thought of in terms of what we can give financially. The Bible tells us our financial giving should be done: Thoughtfully  (2 Corinthians 9:7);  Joyfully  (2 Corinthians 9:7) ; Regularly  (1 Corinthians 16:2) and Proportionately  (2 Corinthians 8:12).  

We are commanded to support those who preach the gospel (Matt. 10:10; Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9:6–14; 1 Tim. 5:17–18). And while we should enjoy the good things God gives us, we are also called to be generous to those in need (1 Tim. 6:17–19; 2 Corinthians 8–9). Wealth can so easily become an idol, leading us to abandon the Lord.

Giving 10 percent of what you receive is a great place to start, but don’t think that makes you generous. Never give to stave off the wrath of an angry God – because He’s not angry.  Never adopt an “I gave at the office” mentality – because we need to live generously. Since God is to be our treasure, believers are to give generously and freely. For many in the West, this will mean giving more than 10 percent and not caring if we get a tax receipt for it. 

The Billy Graham Evangelical Association sums it up well…”we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately. The matter of your giving is between you and God, and He always takes into account our circumstances.”

When we talk about living generously and how we work it out in discipleship, it’s all about how we’re generous with our time with others. One of the best ways we can live generously towards other is to listen to their stories. 

Dietrich Bonheoffer has  said,  “The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship is listening to them. Just as the love of God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is listening to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His word, but also lends us His ear.”

The best example we could have is Jesus and how he took time to listen to others. 

Jesus was willing to touch people (Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 5:25-34,Mark 10:13-16)

Jesus was willing to be interrupted (Mark 10:17-27, Luke 19:1-10, Mark 10:46-52)

Jesus was willing to listen to people (Luke 24:13-39, John 4:7-26) 

There is a transforming significance and profound simplicity in learning to listen to others.  We honour them by hearing their stories. And we get something out of it for ourselves as well…

Proverbs 11:25 says “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Whenever we do something to bless others, we can be refreshed by refreshing them, but being able to listen generously is so critical. 

Dietrich Bonheoffer  has also said, “Christians so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others – that is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking.”

Christ as our example

1. Jesus was willing to listen to understand another person’s perspective.

“What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. Cleopas asked the Lord, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” Jesus asked. (Luke 24:17-20)

Jesus knew how to ask informative questions that allowed Him to find out what was really important to people. 

To be good listener, I need to ask what, why, when, where and how type questions that draw people out.

2. Jesus did not just listen to what people said. 

When Jesus’ mother said to her son, “They have no more wine.” Jesus said, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” My time has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water… now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. (John 2:3-9) 

The Lord listened to people’s emotions, ideas, and implications. Jesus listened in a way that helped Him identify a person’s need. Jesus listened not only for the words, but for the sense of urgency in the tone of people’s voices.

To be good listener, I need to listen for the sense of urgency in the tone of people’s voices. 

3. Jesus was willing to put away negative feelings, grudges, hurts or misunderstandings to really hear what people were saying. 

The Samaritan woman at the well said, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)  John 4:9

Jesus risked being accused of becoming ceremonially unclean if he used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan, since the Jews held that all Samaritans were unclean. 

To be good listener, I need to see what God sees, not what’s obvious to the world. 

4. Jesus was willing to listen without interrupting

The Lord learned how to listen to His heavenly Father every morning in prayer.  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35) 

To be good listener, I need to listen to God through His word and in my prayer times.

5. Jesus spent a great deal of time listening to people who were hurting. 

“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.” (Mark 1:32-34) 

By listening to each person’s specific problem the Lord showed that He was interested in more than just physical healing, but also emotional, social and spiritual restoration. 

To be good listener, I need to learn the art and science of listening for all kinds of reasons why people are hurting.

6. Jesus responded from compassion

 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Mark 1:40-41

This is only one of several places where we see Jesus responding from compassion. He only said what he heard the Father say and only did what He saw the Father doing. You and I can learn to follow the Father the same way.  

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).

To be a good listener, I need to respond from compassion. 

Your daily time in the Bible helps with that. 

7. Jesus listened for a progressive level of information.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus said, “How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”(John 3:3,4) 

Jesus put out a choice piece of spiritual truth to see how well Nicodemus was ready for higher levels of truth. The Lord was able to acquire information about people by letting one piece of information teach Him volumes about people’s spiritual maturity level.

To be a good listener, I need to move from the visible to invisible truths when people are asking it.

Tool

10 Tools for Effective Listening

  1. Face the speaker – maintain eye contact if you’re listening to a women. Men communicate best staring ahead. 
  2. Be attentive, yet relaxed.
  3. Keep an open mind – do not judge.
  4. Listen to the words and try to picture in your mind the event or thought being described.
  5. Do not interrupt!
  6. Wait for the speaker to pause to ask limited clarifying questions. Ask questions for clarification only, not to probe for further details or to be intrusive.
  7. Do not impose your solutions or try to fix.
  8. Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
  9. Give the speaker regular feedback; restate, summarize, reflect, validate, encourage.
  10. Pay attention to what isn’t said – feelings, facial expressions, gestures, posture or other non-verbal cues.

Application

Welcome three people into your everyday world every week – someone inside the church, someone outside the church and someone God highlights. 

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