John Bunyan on Generosity in Pilgrim’s Progress

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John Bunyan on Generosity in Pilgrim’s Progress

“A riddle put forth by old Honest.

A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away, the more he had.

Then they all gave good heed, wondering what good Gaius would say; so he sat still a while, and then thus replied—

He that bestows his goods upon the poor, shall have as much again, and ten times more.

Then said Joseph, I dare say, Sir, I did not think you could have found it out. Oh, said Gaius, I have been trained up in this way a great while; nothing teaches like experience. I have learned of my Lord to be kind, and have found by experience that I have gained thereby.

“There is that scattereth, yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” Prov. xi. 24.

“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing; there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” Prov. xiii. 7.”

John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress from this world to that which is to come (Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, 1918) 275-276.

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Howard Dayton: Position yourself to give generously

“Saving is making provision for tomorrow, while debt is presumption upon tomorrow…

Saving means to forego an expenditure today so you will have something to spend in the future. Perhaps this is why most people never save; it requires the denial of something that you want today, and our culture is not a culture of denial. When we want something, we want it now…

The fundamental principle you need to practice to become a successful investor is to spend less than you earn. Then save and invest the difference over a long period of time…

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34

If we concentrate solely on saving and investing, our focus and affection gravitate there. We will be drawn inexorably to those possessions. But if we balance our saving and investing by giving generously to the Lord, we can still love Christ first with all our heart.”

Howard Dayton in Your Money Counts (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1996) 100, 101, 106.

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Giving in the Rule of Carthage, a seventh century Celtic monastic rule

“Do not be miserly with others for the sake of wealth; your soul is of more value to you than riches.

You shall share these treasures with strangers, whether they are powerful or not. You shall share them with the poor from who you can expect to receive no reward.

You shall share them with the elderly and widows. I am telling you no lie, but do not give them to sinners who have already sufficient wealth.

You shall give to each in turn, and with the greatest secrecy, but without pomp and without boasting, for in this lies it’s virtue.”

A Reading from The Rule of Carthage, a Celtic monastic rule dating from the seventh century, concerning the duties of a spiritual director.

Robert Atwell in Celebrating the Saints: Daily Spiritual Readings to accompany the calendars of the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Church in Wales (Norwich: SCM, 2004) 127.

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Bruce Shelley: The gospel and the American dream

“In an earlier day, as we have seen, the American Dream stood for visions of a civil, just, religious, and generous American community. Katharine Lee Bates caught the vision in her lines:

America! America! May God thy gold refine, till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!

Some Americans still think that such a world is possible, but in recent years the American Dream more often stands for certain symbols if personal prosperity. Today the magnetic “good life,” out there in the future, includes a four-bedroom house in suburbia, at least two-late model cars, four weeks vacation, the toys to go with it, and an income adequate for the payments…

Life isn’t found in posessions? Can we imagine a more revolutionary outlook for an American?”

Bruce L. Shelley in The Gospel and the American Dream (Portland: Multnomah, 1989) 121, 124.

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Jesus in Luke 12:15

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Marva Dawn: Even good stewards can fail to be generous

“Next, let us ponder our human propensity to develop idolatries. We appropriately value some important matter, something that we need to take seriously, but then that something seems to overstep its bounds and becomes overly prominent in our life. It starts to usurp the place of God. For example, instead of God being the only true God in our lives, we might start to let money become a god. Of course it is right to be good stewards of our money. That is a basic principle for our faith. However, have we ever let that principle get out of hand so that we become such “good stewards” that we are no longer generous as the Bible invites us to be?”

Marva Dawn in The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call (Vancouver: Regent, 2000) 83.

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Randy Alcorn and the Treasure Principle

“But when Jesus warns us not to store up treasures on earth, it is not just because wealth might be lost; it’s because wealth will always be lost. Either it leaves us while we live or we leave it when we die. No exceptions…

‘Store up for yourselves.’ Doesn’t it seem strange that Jesus commands us to do what’s in our own best interests? Wouldn’t that be selfish? No…

Selfishness is when we pursue gain at the expense of others. But God doesn’t have a limited number of treasures to distribute. When you store up treasures for yourself in heaven, it doesn’t reduce the treasures available to others. In fact, it is by serving God and others that we store up heavenly treasures. Everyone gains; no one loses…

By telling us to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven, He [Jesus] gives us a breathtaking corollary, which I call the Treasure Principle: You can’t take it with you–but you can send it on ahead.”

Randy Alcorn in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2001) 13, 16, 18.

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Loren Cunningham and Worried Birds

“Have you ever seen a worried bird? One who had deep wrinkles in his brow? Perhaps his eyes were bleary and bloodshot with circles underneath from many sleepless nights? Somehow you knew he had been trying to keep a stiff upper beak as he worried over how he would pay the mortgage on his nest!

Jesus was the One who used birds as an example of the way we should face the subject of finances. He said in Matthew 6:26:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

No, you haven’t seen a worried bird! We can learn from the birds the secret of living like this. Jesus told us we were not to be anxious for what we would eat or drink or for the clothes we needed. In fact, He said our lives should be different from those of unbelievers who run after these things. We are to be as carefree as the birds of the air.

Is this true of most of the Christians you know? Is this true of you?”

Loren Cunningham in Daring to Live on the Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances (Seattle: YWAM Publishing, 1991) 19-20.

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Charles Cloughen, Jr.: Communicating stewardship

“The teaching of stewardship is actually the making of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ…The value of the kingdom of God requires everything. Our possessions–our houses, cars, clothes, and computers–are not going to make it to heaven. We must leave those things behind for others. Only people are going to heaven. Through the god of materialism, our world tells us to use people and acquire money and wealth to buy things. Jesus calls us to do the opposite: give and invest in our children, our young people, our adults. Love people and use things!”

The Rev. Charles Cloughen, Jr. One Minute Stewardship Sermons: Communicating the Stewardship Message Every Sunday of the Year (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 1997) xiv, 7.

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Richard Foster: God’s ownership and giving

“God’s ownership of everything also changes the kind of question we ask in giving. Rather than, ‘How much of my money should I give to God?’ we learn to ask, ‘How much of God’s money should I keep for myself?’ The difference between these two questions is of monumental proportions.”

Richard Foster in The Challenge of the Disciplined Life: Christian Reflections on Money, Sex & Power (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1985) 42.

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Didache: Giving in The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles

“There are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference between the two paths is great. This then is the path of life. First, love the God who made you, and second, your neighbor as yourself. And whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to another. This is the teaching relating to these matters: Bless those who curse you, pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For why is it so great to love those who love you? Do the Gentiles not do this as well? But you should love those who hate you—then you will have no enemy. Abstain from fleshly passions. If anyone slaps your right cheek, turn the other to him as well, and you will be perfect. If anyone compels you to go one mile, go with him two. If anyone takes your cloak, give him your shirt as well. If anyone seizes what is yours, do not ask for it back, for you will not be able to get it.”

Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) 1.1-4.

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