Giving and Generosity

In the material money obsessed world that we live in, a lot is said about money, it dominates many of our lives.  So let’s look at the important issues:

God’s Generosity

 Matthew 5:45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.

God is generous.  He shows His generosity both to those who like Him and to those who hate Him.  His generosity can be seen through His graciousness, and that He gives gifts to all His children.  Jesus tells of the Father’s generosity in Matthew 5:45.

  • How does the Father show His generosity?
  • Why does God show generosity both to evil and good?

Example of the Early Church
Look at the example of the generosity of the first church in Acts 4:32-35.  Note their attitude to their possessions.

Acts 4:32-35   32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.

  • With what generosity did the believers treat one another?
  • Why were they sharing with one another?

God responds to generosity
God who is generous delights in those who have the same attitude.  He backs them up.  Have a look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-9.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9     6 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.9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”*

  • To what is generosity equated?
  • Why would God be looking for people to be happy in giving?
  • How does God respond to the one who is generous?

Join God in generosity
God is generous and desires us to join with Him in His generosity.  See how Paul continues with 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

2 Corinthians 9:10-15   10 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.  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!

  • What outcomes does God look for in His generosity?
  • How do we benefit through joining God in spreading out His gifts?

Principles of Giving

Through our giving we show our hearts.  2 Corinthians 8:3-14, speaking of the Macedonian’s attitudes, shows some key principles that give some perspective.

2 Corinthians 8:3-14 3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers* in Jerusalem.5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.  6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving.7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us*—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.  8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality.14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.

  • What was the attitude of the Macedonians in their giving?
  • What does ‘they gave themselves to the Lord’ mean? (V5)
  • Note v8 there was no command.  Why is that significant?
  • What are the principles of how much and to whom we give? (V11-14)

Content with what we have

Hebrews 13:   5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,    “I will never fail you.      I will never abandon you.”*

The Lord calls on us to be satisfied with God and what He promises.

  • With what attitude are we to live?
  • What does it mean for you to be satisfied with what you have?
  • What do you need to trust God for in order to be satisfied?

Example of Contentment
Paul gives an example of what it means to trust God. This is a trust that has been proven in good times as well as bad.  Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:   11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.13 For I can do everything through Christ,* who gives me strength.

  • In what circumstances has Paul learned to be content?
  • What is the basis of his contentment?

Love of money

Matthew 6:   19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. … 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Our hearts are caught up with whatever we treasure.  If our lives are caught up with possessions, that is where our hearts will be?

  • What are the pitfalls of being concerned about wealth and money?
  • What does it look like when someone serves, and desires wealth?
  • How could you change around priorities in life to serve and desire God?

Trust God
Our desire for material things can be driven both by greed and by need.  Both of these drives are contrasted to trusting God.  Matthew 6:31-33

Matthew 6:  31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God* above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

  • With attitudes does God desire for us in our needs and desires?
  • What does it mean to seek the kingdom of God?
  • What promise does Jesus give to those who seek God’s Kingdom?

Uses and Abuses
Wealth can be used to serve the needs of people or as an object of abuse, as John the Baptist taught.  Luke 3:10-14

Luke 3:   10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?”    11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”     12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”     13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”     14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers.  John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

Titus 2:  9 Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back10 or steal, but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.

  • How could wealth be used positively?
  • How could wealth be an object of abuse?
  • Do you find yourself in a position of power where you are expected to abuse?

We would like to steer our fellow travellers to two things: first is the section on money in Simon Benham’s book the Peach and the Coconut:
http://www.kerith.co.uk/media/the-peach-and-the-coconut.php

The second is the top 10 of our most favourite Bible references on money:

Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Luke 16:13-15
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Matthew 6:21
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Malachi 3:10
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Proverbs 3:9
Honour the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;

Revelation 3:17
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

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