Definition: The remarkable joy that comes from radical giving.
Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (Message)—A Call to Generous Giving
(Read the passage slowly a couple of times, taking note of parts that stand out to you personally, and re-read these parts again prayerfully, asking God to speak to you. With whom do you identify in this passage and what message do you sense God has for you? Take time to pray and then re-read the passage, repeating this pattern over and over thoughtfully. Take these thoughts with you throughout the day(s) and look for God at work in you.)
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.
I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.
So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written,
Nothing left over to the one with the most,
Nothing lacking to the one with the least .”
Consider the Text
(You don’t have to do all the questions. Pick what resonates with you.)
- What is your response to the Bible passage?
- How does giving yourself unreservedly to God make you more generous?
- What does it mean to let Christ live through you in regards to generosity?
- How does your view about money and possessions affect your style of giving?
- What experiences have you had as the recipient of someone else’s generosity?
- What experiences have you had as the one who was able to give to others?
- What is your most rewarding experience of giving?
- What changes in your life would enable you to be more generous?
- How does the Macedonian story relate to Kitchener Waterloo?
- If happiness is not dependent on possessions, then what is it based on? How have you experienced this in your own life?
- How does generosity create more joy in your life?
Journal My Response
- I would like to be more generous in the three following ways …
- The issues and causes that I feel drawn to are…
- How is generosity in my own strength different from generosity that comes from Christ living in me?
- How do gratitude, joy, hope, freedom and mercy (from previous weeks) help me to be more generous?
- What worldly values hinder me from being more generous?
- Who inspires me as an example of generosity?
- Who could I talk to who would be helpful to me as I seek to be a more generous person?
- What are some things I could give beyond money (eg. meals, time, listening ear)?
- What costly item would I give up to express gratitude?
- What good intentions do I have that I don’t want to forget? What’s the first step I can take?
- How can I keep my heart in the right place regarding giving?
- God, please release me from the obstacles that hold me back from being generous.
- Dear God, please live through me regarding generosity…
Luke 6:37-38; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Acts 20:35; Matthew 10:42; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Luke 6:37-38; Deuteronomy 8:18; Proverbs 19:17; 1 Timothy 6:17-19
- Book: Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger, by Ronald J. Sider (Call No. 261.1)
- Book: The Book of 7 Truths—A Tale of Hope and Restoration, by Calvin Miller (fiction, Westheights Church library)
- Book: The Hole In Our Gospel – The Answer That Changed My Life And Might Just Change the World, by Richard Stearns (Call No. 248.4)
- Song: Take My Life (Here Am I), by Chris Tomlin (see blog video)
- Movie: Babette’s Feast (Note: Rated G)
A couple weeks ago, the girls and I stopped at the local corner store to pick up some fresh bread to go with dinner. At the counter and realizing we wanted to switch the type of bread, we stepped aside and let the man go ahead who was standing behind us. Returning to the counter before he had finished, we overheard him say to the clerk to “keep the change and put it towards their purchase” as he pointed to our bread sitting on the counter. It ended up that he left so much money it covered the entire cost of our bread. We quickly rushed out so we could say thanks, but he had already driven away. We went home with our FREE loaf of bread. The girls talked for days about the generous man who paid for our bread.
Jesus was very clear about being generous. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Isn’t it true? Have you ever paid for someone’s coffee in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru or shoveled your neighbours sidewalk “just because”. What a great feeling you will have after helping someone out!
But this is serious. We aren’t asked to give just a little. We’re asked to give A LOT! As much as we can. The bible says “they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:3) This is definitely radical giving. God is asking us to be generous not with a little of what we have. He is asking us to be generous with ALL of what we have.
We often think being generous involves giving money. That is not the case. Our time is one of the greatest gifts and opportunities we have to share with others. Maybe you have a skill, a talent or a gift that you can share. Being generous doesn’t have to be financial. Think outside the box in ways you can show generosity to others..
And the ripple effect you can create will be HUGE. After our free loaf of bread, we sure thought about what we could do to pass the generosity along. Being generous is one of the greatest ways to show God’s love and compassion. By giving, we are sharing the true “bread of life.”
Spend time together:
Create a “Generous Jar.” Everyone come up with ideas of how you can be generous to others in your family and write the ideas on slips of paper. Put these ideas in the jar. Pull out an idea each day and do what is suggested. At the end of the week share with each other what was your favourite Generous Jar moment.
Think of a time when someone has been generous to you or your family. Write them a note and say thanks. Telling someone who much you appreciate what they have done can be a wonderful blessing to them.
As a family, think of someone (individual, family) that you know in your community that you could share with. What can you do to help them? How can you give and be stretched beyond what you normally would do? Come up with a plan and over the next couple of weeks, share your own “FREE BREAD” with them.