My sermon this past Sunday morning (Nov. 6) was in regard to the sixth aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: generosity/goodness.
Each of my sermons in the series of which this sermon was a part (Acts: The Way, It Works) makes some connection with the fruit of the Spirit and the lives of Christ-followers in the book of Acts. However, I deliberately left the connection with Acts missing from this past Sunday’s sermon … until now.
Even just a quick skim of Acts reveals a multitude of instances of generosity/goodness recorded by the book’s author (Luke). Following are twenty-eight examples, one from each of the Acts’ twenty-eight chapters.
1. Giving the community of faith your presence for the sake of united prayer.
“They all joined together constantly in prayer …” (Acts 1.14)
2. Giving your heart and your possessions to those in need.
“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2.45)
3. Giving your attention to those who have become virtually invisible to others.
“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him …” (Acts 3.2-4a)
4. Giving the word of God to others, freely and without fear.
“… they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4.31)
5. Giving encouragement to others by having a healthy attitude about the things you suffer.
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5.41)
6. Giving welcome and acceptance to those new to faith in Christ.
“The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6.7)
7. Giving grace to those who misunderstand you, hate you, and work your harm.
“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed … ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7.59-60)
8. Giving obvious evidence of your faith by sticking with God and taking your faith with you through all of life’s changes.
“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. … Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8.1,4)
9. Giving your talents and skills over to the Lord’s disposal for the blessing of others.
“… showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made …” (Acts 9.39)
10. Giving your mind over to God for him to teach you new things as to your perspective of, and way toward, others who are very much unlike you.
“… God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10.28)
11. Giving others the gift of an open mind as to their understanding of things.
“… when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him … Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story … When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God …” (Acts 11.1,4,18)
12. Giving room for others to join you in your service to Christ.
“When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.” (Acts 12.25)
13. Giving energy and morivation to others to keep on keeping on with God.
“… Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.” (Acts 13.43)
14. Giving inspiration to fellow Christ-followers by sharing the generous good you have experienced thru God in your life.
“… they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them …” (Acts 14.27)
15. Giving well-timed use of conciliatory statements in moments of tension.
“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15.11)
16. Giving of your home to bless other believers.
“When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.” (Acts 16.15)
17. Giving credit where credit is due, particularly when you see those yet to believe catch a glimpse of what is true and right about God and people.
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17.26-28)
18. Giving the grace of real connection and helpful guidance rather than the world’s way of criticism and complaining, which only breeds problems and distance.
“Apollos … was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. … When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Acts 18.24-27)
19. Giving your sinful habits up in public confession and repentance so as to solidify your commitment and to give testimony of the Lord’s work in your life.
“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. [nearly 150 years’ wages for the average worker] In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19.18-20)
20. Giving your daily existence completely over to the Lord so as to not only free yourself from fear and dread, but to lead others to do likewise.
“… I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20.24)
21. Giving yourself over to full establishment of faith in the lives of your children.
“… Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven … had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.” (Acts 21.8-9)
22. Giving clear thought as to how you can best share with those who could benefit from knowing why you are a Christian and how you became one.
“You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22.15-16)
23. Giving yourself over to intervening for the lives of others.
“The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. … But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.” (Acts 23.12,16)
24. Giving respect to whom respect his due.
“When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: ‘I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.'” (Acts 24.10)
25. Giving others the courage of your convictions and standing up for your true rights.
“Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!'” (Acts 25.10-11)
26. Giving prayer to God for others come to faith in God, to become disciples of Christ.
“Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'” (Acts 26.28-29)
27. Giving thanks to God, openly and sincerely, whether in the presence of believers or not.
“… he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27.35)
28. Giving kindness to others in the ways they need most in the moment.
“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” (Acts 28.1-2)
And so, let us make our faith practical. Let us practice what we preach, namely that “God is good, all of the time.” Let us do and give good, generously so, to others, every day, in the name of, and by, the Spirit of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. For his glory, not our own.
Choices, evil & good: The Banality of Goodness by Richard Beck [required reading]
“Evil is ordinary people thoughtlessly making a million small choices.”
Death & dying: Five Reasons We Fear Dying by Caleb Wilde
“Here are five reasons we fear dying.”
Facebook: Require Approval for All Facebook Photo or Comment Tags by Dave Taylor
“Facebook … makes it really easy to tag people in pictures and status updates, even without that person giving approval … You can always untag yourself from Facebook photos or comments, but that’s after the fact. What most people don’t realize is that there’s a way you can set up your privacy settings so that you have to explicitly approve all tags before they show up on Facebook.”
Family: Family First!— Not a Biblical Viewpoint by Ben Witherington [required reading]
“… the Bible, and especially the NT, does not encourage us to put the physical family first. … Frankly, this is entirely false and a bad theology, especially a bad theology of calling.”
Hospice: All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Hospice by David Calhoun
“Forgiveness is best not left to the death bed.”
Jesus/wife manuscript: Update on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife (from Craig A. Evans)
“Is the Coptic papyrus, in which Jesus speaks of his ‘wife,’ a fake? Probably. We are far from a ‘consensus,’ but one scholar after another and one Coptologist after another has weighed in pointing out serious problems with the paleography, the syntax, and the very troubling fact that almost all of the text has been extracted from the Gospel of Thomas (principally from logia 30, 101, and 114).”
Leadership: 16 Things Successful Leaders Never Do by Dan Rockwell
“Never create the future by recreating the past.”
* “What is it like to be someone else in your church?”
* “Stop trying to fix people’s problems. Lower the expectations of your ability to solve the problem. Raise the expectations to see Christ as the answer.”
Women: Jesus and Women in the Gospels by Joshua Graves
“I know what Paul said in I Timothy 2 and I Cor. 11. But before you tell me what Paul said, can you first tell me what Jesus did?”
If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, “If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.” The Christian replies, “Don’t talk damned nonsense.” For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world – that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God “made out of His head” as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.
from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, as recorded in A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works, p.9
“… I want you to be wise about what’s good, and innocent about what’s evil.” (Romans 16:19b CEB)
This sentiment conveys the biggest part of what keeps God-honoring shepherds doing what they do all the time, laying down their lives for God’s sheep.
This thought echoes the thoughts of every Christ-like husband or wife for their mate and every Spirit-led parent for their children every hour.
This sentence mirrors the mind of every holy teacher for those in their charge as to how they sift the things they hear and see each day in the name of Christ.
This declaration reveals the prompt for countless prayers every day within a church family.
This remark paints the picture that every godly preacher seeks to hold up to their church family every week by means of their sermons and behavior.
“… I want you to be wise about what’s good, and innocent about what’s evil.” (Romans 16:19b CEB)
Have you ever really stopped to think about what the word conveys? I mean, is there a word more commonly used, but more commonly overlooked in meaning, than the word “good?”
Whatever is good is centered in God, for God alone is truly good. God is the one who defines what is good. He’s the one who enables us to recognize and appreciate good whenever and wherever we see it. Without God, there is nothing good.
Good is whatever is beautiful in the eyes of God. Good is whatever emulates the kindness of our beautiful, loving God. Whatever is truly good is his beauty and kindness rolled up into one and reflective of him. What is good is whatever is beautiful to give and receive as well in the name of God and is whatever is kinder to the other than it is to self.
It is … good. And good is what we, as God’s people, are to be about.
… show hospitality, love what is good, and be reasonable, ethical, godly, and self-controlled. (Titus 1:8 CEB)
… be reverent in … behavior, teaching what is good … (Titus 2:3 CEB)
Offer yourself as a role model of good actions. (Titus 2:7 CEB)
He gave himself for us in order to … cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions. (Titus 2:14 CEB)
… be obedient and ready to do every good thing. (Titus 3:1 CEB)
… so that those who have come to believe in God might give careful attention to doing good. These things are good and useful for everyone. (Titus 3:8 CEB)
… our people should also learn to devote themselves to doing good … so they aren’t unproductive. (Titus 3:14 CEB)
The only other alternative in life is neither beautiful or kind, but simply …
… detestable, disobedient, and disqualified to do anything good. (Titus 1:16 CEB)
Good. It’s a common word, but it’s about an uncommonly good God who works uncommonly good things through people God counts as good.
Father God, help me to choose the good life today; to be, and to give in all that I do today, what is lovely like you and kind like you. To be good for you, in the good name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.