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“Earn all you can; save all you can; give all you can.” – John Wesley
During the month of October here at Peachtree Road, we are living out the theme “Generosity Lives Here.” It’s that time of the year when we take stock of our lives and renew our covenant with Christ through the commitment of our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness through our home church. I hope you are prayerfully consider living generously in these days.
One morning a college professor stepped into his classroom determined to prove a point to his sleepy students. Under his arm he carried a big, wide-mouthed Mason jar. He made his way to the front of the room and placed the jar on his desk. With the students paying little attention, he filled the jar with several big rocks. He put them in one by one until the jar could hold any more. Then he asked his students, “Is the jar full?” They half-nodded their assertion that it was.
The professor then pulled out a bag of pebbles and slowly poured them into the jar. The pebbles filled in the gaps between the rocks. Once again the professor asked, “Is the jar full?” They all quietly contended that, yes, the jar was full.
The professor proceeded to pull out a bag of fine sand and began to pour it into the jar. The granules quickly filled the almost invisible crevices between the pebbles and rocks. This time when the professor asked if the jar was full, the students answered as one with a resounding “yes!”
The professor produced a glass of water and began to pour it into the jar. The students watched with amazement as the jar accepted almost a full glass. Then the professor asked, “What is the point of this demonstration?” One student responded, “No matter how full you think your life is you can always cram more into it!” The professor smiled, shook his head, and said, “No, that’s not it. The point is you have to put the big rocks in first.”
What are the big rocks of your life? In his book entitled The Generosity Ladder: Your Next Step to Financial Peace, Nelson Searcy asserts there are five big rocks that need to be taken seriously in order to discover a life of joy and financial peace:
#1: Determine your priorities – Financial peace has nothing to do with how much you make; it has everything to do with how much you spend. When you put God first by honoring him with your generous giving and by choosing to live within your means, you have your financial priorities in order.
#2: Decide to get out of debt – getting out of debt is a process that begins with a decision. Decide that you will not add to your debt and learn to be content with what you have instead of being obsessed with what you don’t.
#3: Discipline yourself in small financial ways – make the decision to get out of debt. Decide to cut back on something in your life and put that money toward gaining financial peace. Make a pledge to the church as a sign of your desire to live a life of faithfulness.
#4: Discover the joy of generosity – you don’t have to wait until your finances are in good order to adopt an attitude of a generous giver. Practice being generous toward others in all areas of your life.
#5: Adopt the habit of “now” – take your next step today. Don’t procrastinate.
I have discovered that finances create the greatest stress on most American families. People who are living paycheck to paycheck, folks who are upside down on their home mortgage, and those who are drowning in credit card debt experience very little joy in life. Well, life is too short to allow constant stress, anxiety, and worry to rob you of your peace. Live a life of generosity. Remember the words of Jesus:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion—packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing – it will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you receive in return.” (Luke 6:38, Common English Bible)
I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we talk more about “Generosity lives here.”