Last year, we felt God challenging us to grow in three specific areas – to pray more strategically, to give more generously, and to evangelise more intentionally. As we do so, we will see His hand work through us to see His kingdom advance here on earth. These are three areas of focus for us right now – hence our FOCUS 3 message series. Today we want to speak about the area of giving generously, including financial giving.
Many people have stories of God rewarding and blessing them for their generosity. There are also people who have been generous with their giving but who haven’t seen any direct reward or unusual blessing from God as a result of it. That’s a common occurrence and unless we understand the principle of ‘seasons’ and how God works, we can become frustrated and give up.
Randy Alcorn, in his book The Law of Rewards, tells the story of two men who owned farms side by side. One was a bitter atheist; the other was a devout Christian. Constantly annoyed at the Christian for his trust in God, the atheist said to him one winter, “let’s plant our crops as usual this spring, each the same number of acres. You pray to your God, and I’ll curse him. Then come October, let’s see who has the bigger crop.” When October came the atheist was delighted because his crop was larger. “See, you fool”, he taunted, “What do you have to say for your God now?” “My God”, replied the other farmer, “doesn’t settle all his accounts in October!” The apostle Paul encourages us to have this kind of long term perspective (Gal.6:7-11).God’s Perspective on Generous Giving
What does God think about all this? Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).” Jesus is saying that when we give – whether it be time, energy, service, encouragement, resource, or whatever – there is an even greater blessing than when we are on the receiving end. That sounds unnatural, almost counter-cultural, doesn’t it! I mean, wouldn’t we be happier if we were always on the receiving end of things? Well, even modern day psychological research has recently proven that giving leads to longer and more lasting feelings of happiness and well-being than receiving does.How is it more blessed to give than to receive?
Sample Discussion Questions
- GOD is blessed when we give, especially when we give generously.
One thing we know for sure is that God is a generous God who gives so much to each of us, day after day. He gives us the very breath that we breathe and life itself. He provides for our daily basic needs – food, clothing and shelter. He gives us the power and ability to get wealth. He is faithful in his love, mercy, and compassion towards us. He gave us his very best – His Son.
Not only is God a generous God in the very fabric of his nature; he also loves it when we are generous too. Generosity pleases him greatly. When we give we are just like him. He delights in us as his children when we take on his character qualities. Through generous giving we prove that God is first in our life and we honour him (see Deut.14:23. Prov.3:9). Paul tells us that God ‘loves’ a cheerful (or joyful) giver (2 Cor.9:7)! In contrast, selfishness, tightfistedness or stinginess displeases him because it is opposite to his nature.
God is also blessed when we give because our generous giving helps his work on earth to grow. God is honoured and his kingdom expands. The gospel is free but it costs money to spread the good news and to build the church. God’s work on the earth is great and it requires resources (people, time and finance). Our generous giving provides for the building of the church of Jesus Christ and the extension of God’s kingdom. If everyone gave generously, according to their own resources and income, there would be ‘more than enough’ for the work of each local church, including the various ministries of the church.
- OTHER PEOPLE are blessed when we give.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of someone else’s generosity. How does it make you feel? Special and loved (example: birthday and Christmas presents)! When we give we have the opportunity to do the same for others. What a difference a gift can make. Others are blessed in powerful ways through our generous giving.
God does some amazing things when his people embrace a spirit of generosity in every area of their life. The early church experienced a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in tremendous impact on the local community, city and eventually the entire world. An important factor in what God did was the generosity of believers in contributing voluntarily, willingly and joyfully to what God was doing – and to the needs of others (see Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 11:27-30; 24:17. Rom.15:25-28). Generosity is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart of a believer. A spiritual revival usually results in a surge of generous giving to God’s work and the needs of other people. Revival touches not only the heart but also the wallet.
- WE are also blessed when we give.
This is the surprise element. When you give you receive! This is a powerful spiritual principle that often baffles the rational mind because it doesn’t make sense.
Natural wisdom says, “When I give, I make a loss.” God’s wisdom says, “When you give, you actually gain!” This is the miracle of giving! When we give or invest in the kingdom of God it’s not lost or gone. It is still “there” – in our heavenly investment account. God has a record of it and there is a multiplied return on what we give. Jesus teaches this (Matt.6:19-21), as does Paul (see Phil.4:10-19 and 1 Tim.6:17-19).
Natural wisdom says, “I’ll give when all my needs are met.” “I can’t afford to give” or “I’ll give when I’ve got some surplus.” God’s wisdom says, “Give now, even in your time of need, and watch me work!” The Bible teaches that when we give in faith (trusting totally in God) even when we are in a time of need, his miraculous provision begins to come our way. He only asks us to give of what we already have (not what we don’t have) and as we go first, in faith and obedience, we release his blessing into our life. This principle is taught explicitly throughout the Bible and there are also many illustrations of people who experienced the miracle of giving and then God breaking through to meet their need (see Gen.26:1, 12-14. 1 Kings 17. Luke 21:1-4. 2 Cor. 8:1-7).
Generosity has nothing to do with the ‘amount’ given. It has everything to do with the ‘attitude’ in which something is given. The Bible has much to say about the blessings that come through generous giving (Ps.112:5. Prov.3:9-10; 11:24-25; 19:17. Luke 6:38. 2 Cor. 9:6). When we give we are blessed too! Again, this should not be our motive in giving but it should be our expectation! We give because we want to and love to (not have to). As a by-product, we always receive in the process. If you sow, you will reap! If you don’t sow, you won’t reap. This is a law and a principle that God has ordained.
Without God’s help we will easily succumb to materialism, become prisoners to our debt, and be unable to experience the joy of generous giving. With God’s help we can curb the spirit of greed that so pervades our society, live within our means, and have a generous spirit of giving. As a church, let’s seek to excel in everything, including giving (2 Cor.8:7). How would you describe yourself? Are you a non-giver, a giver, or a generous giver? Make a choice to give more generously … in every area of our life.
- Why do you think ‘money’ is such a sensitive subject to talk about, especially in church?
- Ask for any testimonies of the benefits or blessing of generous giving.
- Discuss Randy Alcorn’s story about the two farmers. How can we keep our faith strong during delays?
- Share a time when you benefited from the generosity of someone else. How did it feel?
- Share ways we can live more generous lives other than through financial giving (promote MOB brochure).
- Have some testimonies of the benefits of serving – giving our time generously for the benefits of others.
- Pray for business owners, those who believe they have the gift of giving, those facing financial difficulty (including unemployment), as well as for all employees.