9/7: Ten Reasons to Give Generously (诗106:1-15 林后9:6-15 赛14:1-16:14)


读经:诗106:1-15 林后9:6-15 赛14:1-16:14

Ten Reasons to Give Generously

Mick Hawkins was the most generous person I have ever met. He was always giving and always offering to pay for everything. We thought he must be very rich. Actually, he wasn’t. He was just very generous. His life overflowed with thankfulness for God’s grace. This opened his heart and his wallet in a way that inspired all who knew him.

I want to be like Mick. I long for the church of Jesus Christ to be full of people like him because, as we see in today’s passage, grace, thanksgiving and generosity are very closely connected.

1. Thank God for grace by our worship

Psalm 106:1-15When we begin to experience God’s grace, gratitude is the natural and appropriate response. The psalmist is overwhelmed by gratitude and worships God, saying, ‘Praise the Lord. Givethanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever’ (v.1).

He goes on to say, ‘We’ve sinned a lot… We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people… forgot your great and wonderful love’ (vv.6–7, MSG). They had ‘rebelled’ against God (v.7d).

Years ago, by this psalm, I wrote in the margin of my Bible: ‘I sometimes wonder whether I sin more than any other Christian… how can God go on forgiving?’ If you feel like that sometimes, you are not alone.

But, the next verse starts with the word ‘yet’. This is grace. In spite of everything:

  • he saved them for his name’s sake’ (v.8a)
  • he led them’ (v.9b)
  • he redeemed them’ (v.10b).

As a result of God’s amazing grace, ‘they believed his promises and sang his praise’ (v.12). But ‘they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel’ (v.13).

Again, I have written in my margin: ‘This is the history of my Christian life – for a day or two, or even a week or two, I believe his promises and sing his praises… but then I soon go out and forget what he has done and fail to wait for his counsel, or to ask his advice about everything.’

Let’s not be as they were – complaining every step of the way and always wanting what they did not have (v.14). They ‘lusted exceedingly’ (v.14, AMP) and God ‘gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls’ (v.15). Sometimes God says ‘your will be done’ and gives people what they ask for, even if it is not the best thing for them. Rather than lust after more, enjoy and thank God for what you have through his grace and kindness to you.

Lord, thank you for your amazing grace. Thank you that you do not treat me as my sins deserve, but that you have redeemed me and you lead me. Help me to believe your promises, sing your praise and not forget what you have done for me.

2. Thank God for grace by our giving

2 Corinthians 9:6-15In this passage Paul gives us at least ten reasons to give generously:

  • Giving is the best investment you can make
    Like the harvest, giving is planting seed. The farmer will reap far more than what was sown (v.6): ‘A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop’ (v.6, MSG).

This applies to everything in life. What you give to the Lord he multiplies – your time, gifts, ambitions and money.

  • Giving should be fun
    Giving should never be forced or grudging, but rather voluntary and cheerful ‘for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above all other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]’ (v.7, AMP). The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros. We always quip at HTB that our giving should be hilarious! It should be fun to give.
  • Giving takes away the burden of financial worry
    Paul writes, ‘and God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work’ (v.8). Giving does not mean handing over financial responsibility to God – but it does mean handing over the worry and the burden of it.
  • Giving ‘enriches’ you
    When God invites us to give, he is pleading to our reason, not to our emotions: ‘Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way so that you can be generous’ (v.11, AMP). Materially, we will have enough to give away generously (v.11). Our characters will be enriched (v.10). God will be praised (v.11).
  • Giving transforms your character
    Paul speaks of ‘the harvest of your righteousness’ (v.10b). Giving purges the character from the constricting grip of materialism that destroys lives.
  • Giving inspires others
    ‘Your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but it is also overflowing in the many expressions ofthanks to God. Because of the service of which you approved yourselves, people will praise God’ (vv.11b–13a).
  • Giving meets people’s needs
    Generous giving blesses other people and supplies the needs of God’s people – ‘helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians’ (v.12, MSG).
  • Giving is evidence of real faith
    Generous giving is an act of obedience, which should accompany ‘your confession of the gospel of Christ’ (v.13). Giving is an act of trust – in doing it you are saying that it is God, not yourself or anyone else, who ultimately provides for your needs.
  • Giving makes you a stakeholder in the church
    Paul speaks of ‘your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else’ (v.13b). The word Paul uses for sharing is koinonia which can also be translated ‘fellowship’. In the same way as when you share a flat or apartment you share in the bills, as you share in the needs of the community you reap the benefits of that community. For example, every time someone comes to know Christ through the community you share in the blessing.
  • Giving is a response to God’s gift to you
    God so loved you that he gave his one and only Son so that you might have eternal life (John 3:16). Our giving is a response to God’s amazing grace. His ‘indescribable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15) is the gift of his Son. ‘Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!’ (v.15, MSG).

Lord, thank you for the indescribable gift of your son Jesus Christ. Help me to respond with generosity and grace to your amazing grace.

3. Thank God for his grace in our lives

Isaiah 14:1-16:14How do we explain the evil of ISIS – beheadings, crucifixions of Christians and Yazidis, women and children sold into slavery? How do we explain, for example, the Holocaust, Stalin’s exterminations or the Rwandan genocide?

This is one of the few passages in the Bible that hints at the origins of Satan and demonic powers.

The beauty of a diamond is best seen set against a black velvet cloth. The beauty of God’s grace is also seen in its full glory and brilliance against the darkness of evil. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s amazing compassion (14:1). The dark background is the evil of the nations around; in particular, Babylon’s cruelty, torture, persecution and slave trade.

In the course of his description of Babylon’s fall, Isaiah makes reference to an ancient Canaanite myth where Helal, the morning star, son of Shehar (dawn) attempted to rise above all the other luminaries, but was cast down by the sun:

‘You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of the assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you were brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit’ (vv.12–15).

Jesus similarly describes Satan’s fall (Luke 10:18). Perhaps it was pride and arrogance that led to an angelic fall before the fall of Adam and Eve.

But against this dark background there is also a hint of a beautiful diamond.

‘The tyrant toppled,
The killing at an end,
all signs of these cruelties long gone,
A new government of love will be established
in the venerable David tradition.
A Ruler you can depend upon
will head this government,
A Ruler passionate for justice,
a Ruler quick to set things right’ (Isaiah 16:4b–5, MSG).

Whatever the historical fulfilment may have been, there is only one person who perfectly fits this description – Jesus the Messiah, born in the line of David, who brought together God’s love and his justice. Unlike the satanic ‘I will’ (14:13,14), Jesus denied himself and said, ‘Not what I will, but what you will’ (Matthew 26:39).

The only appropriate response to God’s amazing grace revealed in Jesus Christ is to give him thanks with your worship, your giving, and your whole lives – to surrender your life to him and say, ‘I am willing to do whatever you want.’

Lord, thank you that we experience your amazing grace, love and faithfulness in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that he seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. Help me, like him, to have a concern for the poorest of the poor and the needy.

Pippa Adds

2 Corinthians 9:6

‘Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap sparingly.’

This is the difference between placing one seed carefully in a neat line behind the other and chucking seed everywhere, not worrying if some misses the target.

I am a little cautious by nature and probably need to take more risks. I have experienced such extraordinary generosity by the body of Christ that it constantly challenges and overwhelms me.