Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

26 Thankful Giving – Part 1

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2 Corinthians 9:11-15

11 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. 12 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. 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

Thankful living is not just tied to our thoughts and attitudes but also our actions. What we believe will come out in our behavior and if we are purposefully living a thankful life it will show not only in our living but also our giving. The Word of God not only teaches us the importance of living a thankful and generous life but also shows us that thankful living results in:

  • Giving Praise to God

It is here in 2 Corinthians 9:11 that we learn a powerful lesson on giving, that when we give generously to help others our giving results in others giving thanks to God, “when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.” Due to a great famine in Jerusalem, Paul was taking an offering to the Christians in that city to meet their needs. He stated that the result of this generous gift would be an out pouring of praise to God for supplying their needs. The generous giving by Christians in Corinth would be an answer to prayer for the church in Jerusalem. Why do we live thankless lives today, because most of us spend the majority of our lives trying to get and very little of our lives giving. We all want to be blessed, it’s often the focal point of prayer, and what consumes much of our conversation with God. But the question is why do we want to be blessed? Put another way, who do we want the blessing to benefit, is it for me or for ministry? Do we want to be blessed to be a blessing, or only for self-benefit? Are my prayers self-seeking or service seeking? The Christians in Corinth gained and were blessed by God so that they could generously give. Giving to help meet the needs of others not only blesses others but it also resulted in your being a blessing and also being blessed. In Acts 20:35 Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Paul reminds us that thankful people are engaged in the ministry of giving not the misery of getting. One of the reasons we live miserable lives is that we are so focused on Me that we miss the ministry. People who fail to live thankful lives choose to be miserable. The very word miserable comes from the word “miser” misers are miserable people. How much of your prayer life is focused on getting and how much is focused on giving? Do you pray for God to give you opportunities to bless others or are you so wrapped up in self that you fail to seek Him for opportunities to serve? Why do you suppose the Bible has so much to say about living a generous life? To put generosity into a proper perspective consider this, the Bible has 272 words for “believe,” and references to prayer are listed 371 times, love is listed 714 times, but giving has 2,161 references in the Bible. God’s word has much to say about money and how we use wealth because selfish living results in us having little to no respect or appreciation for God and His blessings. Jesus powerfully illustrated this truth in the parable of the rich fool found in Luke 12:16-21:

16 “Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

What was the primary problem of the rich man? Some have stated ambition was his problem, but there is nothing wrong with ambition. Look it’s not a sin to build bigger and better things, no the sin was forgetting the Father and not included Him in the building plans. What was he guilty of, greed and the sin of selfishness. Look how often he uses the terms “I” and “My.” “I will build…I will store all my grain, and my goods.” It is greed that causes us to spend beyond our means, and waste our lives lusting instead of loving. Not only are we a nation drowning in a sea of national debt, but many are living in the crippling pain of personal debt. Why do you suppose the storage business is in such demand today? Could it be due to overspending driven by a constant want for more? The rich man thought only about himself, and failed to consider the consequences of his greed. He didn’t see how greed would shrivel up his soul and cause him to trade relationship for material riches. He was so caught up with financial comfort and building his own personal empire that he didn’t care if he had no time for his family. He made the goal getting and like many today became so consumed with climbing the ladder of financial success, that he failed to realize that when he got to the top his loved ones would not be with him. It’s hard to be a giver, and live a life of gratitude when you are motivated more by greed that God. We should honor God with all that we possess, because it all really belongs to Him. If He is the owner and Master then we are the managers. When the Christians in Corinth gave they were really just giving of God’s gift, it was His gold not theirs. How are you using His treasure to touch others and cause them to turn to their Father with hearts of thanks? Are you hording or helping? 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 tells us: “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. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” Don’t be a stingy steward, look you don’t have a stingy Savior, but one who generously gave His life to lavish His love on you. Are you holding back or helping bless?

 

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