There’s a phrase that comes up a lot this time of year. You hear it on commercials, maybe see it in department stores, but most don’t know it’s actually a quote from Jesus. The reason we remember it and say it is because the Bible tells us to remember it.
“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 NLT
This weekend in this Christmas season, we’re going to talk about giving. A lot of people follow God the wrong way. Most people are following God and doing what God wants them to do from a sense of obligation rather than passion. Many don’t enjoy praying, reading their Bible, enjoy going to church, or want to give, they just feel they have to.
They’re seeking God out of a sense of duty but not enjoying the ride. That’s not God’s best for us. We want to be people who can’t wait to give in a way that grows God’s Church, enables the Church to reach more people, helps a helpless child, rescues someone from human trafficking, or brings Truth to someone who has never heard it before.
The goal is to give out of passion, not duty. Of course there is a place for sheer obedience and doing something because God says so, there’s discipline in all things. But God doesn’t ask you to stay there. You can actually come to a point where you delight in the ways of the Lord. Serving God can be a delight not a duty.
“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT
Any farmer or even anyone who’s planted grass seed knows if you put a few seeds in the ground you can expect a small harvest. If you put a lot of seeds in the ground, you can expect a larger harvest. So today, scripture is asking you to not give reluctantly, and to not be pressured into giving out of high emotion or compulsion.
The Bible says decide in your heart. Why? Because:
“For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
And, when you are generous, here are the blessings promised to you:
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’ For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-12 NLT
Why Give To My Church?
How do you get this kind of perspective on giving? Where does a passionate desire come from? It happens when you define why, the why motivates it all.
When I lose my why, I’ll lose my way.
Some of you have lost your way because you forgot your whys. Your marriage is in trouble because you’ve forgotten why you married them in the first place. You’re not enjoying your job because you forgot there was a day you were asking for that job. There was a day you chose to serve the Lord and you forgot what he’s done for you. All of the sudden you find your relationship with God struggling.
Why should we give and why should we give to the Church? There are actually many more reasons, but for now we will look at four.
1. Jesus gave to us first
God sent His only son to earth and asked Him to give it all. He asked Jesus to give His life, dreams, position, career, family and body in hopes that each of us would receive His gift of eternal life. We don’t want to ever forget where we would be without Christ.
This is the message of Christmas:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NLT
Ephesians five further explains what He has given:
“Christ loved the church and gave himself for it . . . He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault . . .” Ephesians 5:25,27 NCV
We want to be like Christ. We want to love the Church and give our lives for the Church. One of the most Christlike things you can do is love the Church. When you want to know what something is worth, you look at what someone is willing to give for it.
2. It’s the direct way to give to God
Christian giving is not about giving to a cause; it’s about giving to a person. It’s different than any other type of giving. When you give to the Church, you are giving a gift of thanks to God who breathed life into you.
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT
The Church is Christ’s body. This is more than a metaphor. The Church is actually the body of Christ on Earth, His presence here until He returns. So, gifts given to the Church should be thought of as being given to Christ himself.
God’s plan is to group us together. The devil attacks your relationships. Your full potential can be reached only when you find your covenant family in your local expressions of the Church. You need to find one and when you do, something powerful happens. Because the Church is the most powerful force in the world.
Jesus: “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!” Matthew 16:18 NLT
The Church has survived every crumbling culture for 2000 years. Jesus is in the Church building business. He’s not interested in building your reputation, building nations, building businesses, building clubs or organizations. He says He is going to build His family, His Church. All of the global problems cannot be solved without one third of the world which happen to be members of churches.
“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” Colossians 1:6 NLT
3. My heart follows my money
Financial giving is one of the primary things we can do to grow our faith. People who get stagnate in their faith tend to find breakthrough when they start giving more.
Giving works. Giving gets results.
Time and time again this one discussion has the ability to create spiritual growth in a way that most other discussions do not. So much of our faith is words. We sing words. The Bible is made up of words. Sermons are filled with words. We sit around small groups and put our thoughts to words.
For some people their entire relationship with God happens only with their mouth. Words are very, very powerful. But we must put our money where our mouth is. Giving is the best way to do that. Giving is an action.
You’re doing something very real that’s going to stretch your faith. There’s nothing elusive or mysterious about it. You either give or you don’t. But when you do, it moves the needle.
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT
You have two accounts going in life. You have an earthly account and a heavenly account. Which one are you investing in? The one that’s temporary, or the one that’s eternal?
One thing about giving is that it leads us to more freely enjoy what we have on earth. We can have some nice things and not feel guilty about it because the chains of materialism are broken.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:34 NLT
This order is so important. He’s not saying you give to what you care about. What Jesus is saying is far more interesting than that! He’s saying how you use your money determines what you care about.
You don’t become more generous, and then give. You give, which makes you more generous. You don’t develop more faith, and then give. You give, and it grows your faith. You don’t grow closer to God and then give. You give, and then start to feel closer to God.
4. One day I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done.”
We will all meet Him one day and it will be the best thing to hear, “Way to Go! You did it!” The Bible says He’s coming on the clouds one day to meet you and He’s bringing His rewards with Him. The word in the Greek means He wants to pay us back. This verse will keep you going:
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” Matthew 25:23 NLT
One day your name will be called and you’ll be with Jesus, and you want to be prepared for it. If you’re discouraged or it’s not working for you in this life, remember there is more to this life than this life.
Check back on your discussion from last week, a good time for gratitude. How has giving thank IN all things gone for you this week?
Hear the Word
This week’s message focused on celebrating through giving. We can celebrate through giving and through our serving, but the most important thing we can give is the hope we have in Christ. We can either give through obligation—because we think we have to, or delight—because we find joy in making a difference through our giving, deepening our relationship with Christ and being rewarded by Christ.
Spend some time in the word. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.
“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35 NLT
1. Get the conversation on giving going. What’s one of the most generous things you’ve ever received?
2. Throughout scripture, God has desired a willingness to give on our part, and a willingness on his part to provide for us and protect us. Have you settled giving out of passion rather than duty? Explain.
3. Discuss the four reasons to give. Do they resonate with you as a motivation for giving?
4. Share some other reasons why you give. What are some things you could focus on to remind yourself WHY give? How has your motivation to give changed as your faith has grown?
5. Who’s the most generous person you know? How have you seen that affect the joy in their life?
Prayer Focus: Thank God for giving you life. Ask for courage to spend your life giving back to him. Ask Him to give you a heart of generosity toward God, your church, neighbors, family and world.
Tell Someone Else
Share with the group who you’re praying will respond to invite to a Christmas service at Rock Brook this year.