Sermon, 3.15.09"Living Generously" Rev. Erik Bonkovsky Nehemiah 5:14-19
The way we treat people reflects our love for God. In this passage from Nehemiah, we see Nehemiah acting out in bold generosity, embracing the people in a way that showed his fear of God and compassion. Instead of raking in the standard fee that a ruler in his position would take in order to feed himself, he took his own private wealth and threw lavish dinners for the commoners every night. This would have marked a lifestyle change for Nehemiah, as he was used to living in lux surroundings with the King of Persia. Here he is giving away what riches he has in order to feed his people without taxing them, so that the work of God (rebuilding the city) may be done.
Have you given so much that it hurts? That you have to change your lifestyle in order to accommodate it? Do you actually change your habits in order to give more, no matter how painful it is for you?
Christ is our fuel. He's already done the work, and he gives us the power to live generously.
Nehemiah's generosity shows the ultimate type of hospitality. The root of the word "hospitality" is "hospital," and what does it mean to run a hospital? It means you're helping people who are hurt. It takes a sacrifice from us -- when we open our homes, and give to those in need. And when we are hospitable in this manner, we are mirroring the gospel. We can sum up the story of the Bible by saying it's the story of God's hospitality to us.
We are God's heirs! If you truly believe you're getting ready to receive a huge inheritance from God, you can afford to be generous now. Do not be afraid; rely on God to give you the means to live generously.