It’s great that The Belfrey is part of a Diocese encouraging ‘generous churches, making and nurturing disciples’. This vision of the Diocese of York is fantastic and will be increasingly realised as God teaches us about the value of generosity.
I spoke across most of The Belfrey congregations last Sunday on The Value of Generosity from Luke 6. (If you missed the message, you can listen online by clicking here). I also spoke later on the Sunday morning at Christ the Light in Huntington York, led by our good friends Charles and Cath Walters. It was their 6th anniversary since planting and wonderful to see how they’ve grown. I spoke from the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4) and encouraged them to have an increased expectation of multiplication as they continue to sow seeds into good soil.
Whilst both my messages from last weekend were distinct, I’ve been thinking this week that there is much overlap between them, simply because generosity brings multiplication.
We see it in nature. God has designed a small seed in such a way that if it gets into good soil it can grow into a plant that can produce 30, 60 or even 100 times what was sown! Similarly God takes the things we give and causes them to have a multiplicatory impact on people and situations. The reason for this is that God loves to bless generosity so that what might seem small to us can make a big difference in the economy of God’s kingdom. Everything we give to God, he multiplies. Jesus said so, not just in Mark 4 but also in Luke 6:38: ‘Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.’
So we mustn’t think ‘my small act of kindness is unimportant, so I won’t bother.’ Or ‘my seemingly small prayers are a waste of time’. Or ‘my small contribution to the finances won’t make any difference.’ No! God wants to take our small offerings given from a generous heart and grow them for maximum impact.
But there’s one condition. One thing that needs to happen for multiplication to be realised. And that’s this: we need to give.
If we don’t give, God has nothing to multiply. Anything times nought is always nought. Which is why God always always makes sure we have something to give, and then he asks for it.
We see that in the famous story of the Feeding of the 5000 (in Luke 8) where the disciples think they have nothing, but find a young lad who’s willing to give his packed lunch. Whilst the lunch would have looked small, to the boy it was everything he had on him at the time! Jesus sees his generosity and honours it by multiplying the food so there’s more than enough. Amazing!
Something very similar is seen in 2 Kings 4 where a poor widow runs out of money. She’s at her wits’ end and thinks she might even have to sell her children into slavery. She seeks help from Elisha who wisely asks what she has in her home. Her initial reply is telling. ‘Nothing’ she says. But then she thinks again and adds ‘except a small joy of olive oil.’ That’s all she has – and she gives it anyway. Amazing transformation then occurs as God takes her seemingly small offering and multiplies it, so that many jars are filled from her small jar, all of which she then sells to make ends meet. What a wonderful story of multiplication through generous giving!
So the idea is simple. God loves to take our offerings and multiply them, especially when they’re given from a generous heart.
For those of us at The Belfrey who’ve been invited to contribute to a Gift Day this Sunday, this is a timely reminder that every contribution is of value. As as we seek to give away the best of what God has given us, ‘God will meet all our needs according to the riches of his glory’ (Phil 4:19).