MODGNIK… what do we know about it? It’s one of the great mysteries of historic Christianity. It’s a completely upside-down way to understand God. It’s confusing, yet beautifully simple. But don’t worry, all will be revealed about this new series at Eastside!
Share a memory, you would consider one of your happiest times.
D-escending Into Greatness/G-enerosity Flows
In the backward Kingdom of God, life is radically different. Instead of trying to build our little empire on earth, Jesus tell us the more that people are looking for is found in less. In His kingdom, the way to become full is to empty ourselves.
Jesus was explaining the pathway to living a great life. A life where we descend into greatness by giving ourselves away and where generosity flows through us.
There are all kinds of unique, colorful, and different people in the world with an unbelievable variety of interests. But there is one kind of interest that unites the entire human family, one thing we all share in common. It is self-interest.
How many of us have fallen for the myth that tells us the more I have, the happier I am?
But what happens is, the more a person has, the more a person wants.
Share about one area that you think if you had more, you would be happier. This could be money, tangible things, time, people in your life. What would you consider to be enough?
Have someone read Mark 8:31-35.
Jesus knew that self-interest runs so deep that a few casual reminders will never make a dent. There is a series of three passages that continue to address this issue. In the first passage Peter rebuked Jesus for what he had to say. It is hard for us to imagine rebuking God; however, we have probably done this to someone in our life. We didn’t agree with what they had to say and took them aside to object, but the real reason for our objection was that their idea didn’t serve our self-interest.
Jesus was saying, “Peter, your whole world revolves around you. You’re only worried about you. You’ve missed my entire mission to redeem and save the world.”
And when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” I think He wanted Peter to understand that self-interest is not just merely a psychological maladjustment.
Now you would think that the disciples would just jump on this and change their selfish ways, wouldn’t you? But me-first mindsets don’t change easily or overnight. So, Jesus needed to keep going after them with the same message.
Have someone read Mark 9:31-37.
When Jesus found out that on their travels to the next city, His disciples had been fighting over who would be first, He called them over. Sitting down, Jesus said, “Anyone who wants to be first (and you guys seem very worried about being first a lot) must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Have someone read Mark 10:35-37.
The disciples couldn’t really comprehend what Jesus was saying. They still were thinking that Jesus was about to overthrow Rome and set up a political kingdom and assert Himself as King of the Jews. They thought they were headed to Jerusalem for the inaugural ball. They were encouraging Jesus to go and make Israel great again. Then they were bickering who was going be sitting at Jesus’ right or left? We chuckle at them now, but we also struggle to comprehend what heaven will be like. We wrestle with the same things.
Why is it a struggle for us to be generous? What is the area of biggest struggle — hospitality, food, time or money?
Studies show that in our country, as people make more money, they tend to give less away, proportionally speaking. The more they have, the tighter they hold on to it. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, we learn that generosity is His will for us, that giving is the mindset and lifestyle of choice.
Have someone read Luke 6:38.
Jesus was explaining that God is generous, encourages us to do likewise, and that generous people will benefit. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”
God has done so much. How much more could He do if we all really believe that the more we give, the more we’ll have to give? What if we really believed we are happier giving than receiving?
Share mind sets that hold you back from genuinely believing this principle of give and more will be given to you.
Share a time when giving to someone else brought you joy.
The Bible says when you honor God with the first percentage of your income, you invite Him into your financial life and your financial affairs. Gene shared how he and Barbara learned an important principle: generosity doesn’t happen until we make it a priority.
Each year we offer the 90-day challenge of giving and seeing if God doesn’t meet you, showing up in often unexpected ways. If you have taken this challenge and have a story of how God blessed you, share with your group.
If you have not taken this type of challenge, share about where in your financial life you need God to show up.
Now when Jesus explained that people are more blessed to give than to receive, He wasn’t just talking about financial resources, he was also talking about our time, talents, and service.
Noted psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman wrote a book entitled Authentic Happiness, and in his book, he comes down to this conclusion. He says that most all of us think that we would be happy if we could have more of something. Seligman found that when people are involved in acts of service for others, they become less self-absorbed, less depressed. They become more tuned in to others, more capable of empathy. They have a greater sense of community and a decreased sense of loneliness.
Share how the Holy Spirit wants to apply this in your life. Share if you feel He is leading you in a certain area or action.
The space between not enough and too much can never be bridged. Seligman challenged his students. He said, “I want you all to go out and do one act that you know will make you happy. Then I want you to go out and do one act of compassion, one purely altruistic piece of behavior. Then write down your reflections to both of these things.”
Consider trying this experiment in your own group or with your family. Write down reflections and bring to share next week.
Honor someone this week with a text, a post on their Facebook wall, a handwritten letter, an email or a phone call. Next week share what you did with your group.
Pair off and:
Pray for the courage to believe that the more generous we are, we will have more.
Share a personal request you could pray for each other this week. Spend time praying for each other before closing.