- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

The following is excerpted from a sermon, “Living the Generous Life,” delivered yesterday by the Rev. Robert O. Schmidt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Rockville:

This parable [in Luke 12] is crystal clear. I’m reading it today from the Holman Christian Standard Bible: “A rich man’s land was very productive. He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink and enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool. This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared — whose will they be?’”

Here is Jesus’ explanation: “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

This is the story of the man who founded the storage-unit industry. In Jesus’ day, most people lived day to day. Their goal was to survive long enough to string together enough days to make a week, then to string together enough weeks to make a month, then string some months together to make a year, and on and on. That was a life in those days. You hoped to get what you needed one day at a time. But this man was different. This man was prosperous because he worked hard and his land produced much grain.

Now note the things for which Jesus did not condemn him. Jesus did not condemn him because he was: prosperous, successful, planned ahead, stored his grain, built barns in which to store the grain, planned for the future.

No, Jesus condemns him because he was not generous in his prosperity. Jesus says this man failed because he stored instead of giving away his excess. Look again at verse 21. Here’s Jesus’ condemnation: “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich,” you can substitute the word “generous,” “toward God.”

Of course, the way to live a life of joy and fulfillment is to live a life of generosity. In God’s economy, generosity is the only way of life that makes sense. It is the most intelligent way to live. God in His divine genius, in His wisdom, has so orchestrated the laws of the universe that living generously is the only way of life that makes sense.

Do you know an unhappy generous person? No, absolutely not. Is the life of a generous person characterized by sadness, gloom, unhappiness? No.

You know people who have a big heart. You know people who are generous with their time, love, talents and money. There are people in our church who are generous people, people with big hearts. And guess what these happy people have in their hearts? Joy. The genius of generosity is that when we give to others, it blesses us and we get joy from it. That is the genius of generosity. It’s always win-win.

The Bible tells us that the Christian life does not operate on worldly values. In fact, the thoughts, the concepts, the philosophies of the world are contrary to the Bible. In the Bible, we are told to give, and we will get it back and then some. Generous living is the most intelligent way to live because not only does it make common sense; it makes biblical sense.

In light of the events that have occurred in the Indian Ocean in the past few weeks, what do you think Jesus would do if He came to Montgomery County and looked in our closets and garages? How do you think He would feel when He saw the excess of shoes, furniture, appliances while people live all over the world without shoes on their feet, clothes on their backs and beds to sleep on?

To grasp things instead of holding them on your fingertips and letting them fall off for the benefit of others is not the way we’re supposed to live. To hold onto things is foolish. Giving them away is a wise investment.

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