The Joy of Generosity

By on November 11, 2018

Scripture reading from Malachi 3:8-12, 16-18

 

 

2 Comments to “The Joy of Generosity”

  1. Donald McMahon
    November 12, 2018

    Here is Carol’s manuscript:
    The Joy of Generosity

    I am sure that most, if not all of you have heard the saying, it is better to give than to receive. Knowing that it was from the bible, I did a little research and found that it was Acts 20: 35. So there it was. Right there in the bible. I was surprised and perhaps a little shocked to find out that I was wrong about the exact verbiage. Paul tells the Ephesian elders that they should remember the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “ It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

    Have you experienced this feeling? The feeling that can only come from the joy of generosity. This phenomena has been studied and proven to actually be very real. We as human beings do really feel much better when we give freely and without expecting in return.

    I remember reading a letter that a grandmother had written into one of the advice columns several years ago. She was wondering whether she should continue to give gifts to her grandchildren or not. You see, they had yet to thank her for any of her gifts. She went on to say in the letter that they were fairly young and yet seemed to be unappreciative.

    This letter really boggled my mind. I was pretty new at being a grandmother. But I already knew the joy of generosity when it came to this precious little being who had come into my life. I didn’t need her obvious thanks or appreciation. I was and continue to be so appreciative for the gift of her in my life, along with the other grandchildren that God has gifted me with.

    Let’s pray,

    Malachi 3: 8-12, 16-18 found on page of the Old Testament Bible found in your pews.

    Do Not Rob God

    Malachi 3:8-12 (NIV84)

    8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
    “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
    “In tithes and offerings.
    9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of
    you-because you are robbing me.
    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.
    11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields
    will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.
    12 “Then all the nations
    will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
    Malachi 3:16-18 (NIV84)

    16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD
    listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence
    concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
    17 “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up
    my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man
    spares his son who serves him.
    18 And you will again see the distinction
    between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those
    who do not.

    This is the word of God for the people of God!

    We are now into the month of November. Where has the year gone? I can hardly believe that the year is almost over. November is the month that many of us associate with Thanksgiving and giving thanks. It might also be the time of year when some of our churches think about the budget for the next year and we are asked to pledge or promise what we will give for that new budget. I have attended churches that make a budget after receiving the pledges and churches that set their budget and rely on God’s gifts to cover the budget.

    I had all this bouncing around in my brain and it got me to thinking about giving and tithing. Well, don’t you know, God brings this passage my way in one of my devotions. I knew as soon as I saw it, that this was the one for today. It was as clear as could be to me. No need to consider anything else.

    What do you know about the book of Malachi? I have to admit that it is not a book that I am very familiar with. Two of the bibles that I use, give a little history before each book…the author, time period, setting, etc. Often books are named after the author. But the common belief seems to be that Malachi is not an author’s name. The word actually means messenger.

    Another thought is that the author was a priest or prophet who believed deeply in temple, true worship, tithes and the blessing that this would bring you. And in this case, the message was far more important than the messenger. Let’s see how Malachi, the messenger might speak to us.

    8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
    “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
    “In tithes and offerings.
    9 You are under a curse-the whole nation of
    you-because you are robbing me.
    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.

    Are you a thief? Have you ever robbed anyone? I hope that you are all able to answer a hearty no to both questions. Is it possible though, that anyone of us here today has robbed God and his church at some point? How many of us truly tithe? And do so with a generous and joy filled heart? It isn’t an easy thing to do. Give up 10% of what you have received, before you do anything else with what you have.

    I remember when my brother and I were teenagers and starting to earn a little money here and there, we were taught to fill our envelope first, with a true tithe. Then we were to put a certain percentage into the bank (I have since forgotten the guidelines for that). The rest was for us to do with as we saw fit.

    The irony of this is that my mother, who was a single mom at the time, was not so good at keeping or living within a budget. But she did know that God came first. And that was the point of her instruction to us on tithing. God first. And…to do so happily and out of love and thanks for all that he has done for us. Mom tried to teach us the joy of generosity. For she truly believed that it was more blessed to give than receive.

    And so I ask you, why do you give back to God? Out of fear. Out of duty. Out of obligation. As an investment. Or out of great joy and thanksgiving? Do you feel the joy of generosity when giving? Do you give what you can and that’s that? Or do you wish that you could do more?

    J.D. Greear says in his book, Gospel, that there are many who view their tithing as an investment. They have read Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.

    Mr. Greear says that there are many who give their 10%, not generously and out of love and thanks, but rather because they hope that by tithing, the other ninety percent will increase as a reward for their giving. What is your reaction to this line of thinking? Will these people know the joy of generosity and being in a loving relationship? Or are they being legalistic, crossing to do’s off of their list, and hoping for a reward for being a good doobie?

    Mr. Greear says that this position is incomplete and poorly motivated. They are giving more to get more. They are using God, not worshipping Him. This paragraph really spoke to me. After all, God didn’t give his son solely to hear us say thank you. He gave us Jesus out of a very deep love for his people, you and me. God knows the joy of generosity in a way that none of us ever will.

    Wouldn’t it be great to give as part of our worship experience? To give without expecting thanks. To give out of sheer joy. To give as a way of saying thanks for all that God has done in our lives and in the lives of our families.

    Giving comes in many forms. It can be tithing here at our local church. It can be making donations of food or money to the local food bank. It can be a donation of your time, excess clothing, or food to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. The joy of generosity comes when volunteering with special needs children right here in your community or reaching out to the elderly in a local nursing home.

    If you feel more global, our bishop is a proponent of the No More Malaria program which provides mosquito netting as a very effective way of reducing the rate of malaria deaths due to mosquito bites. Did you know that a simple mosquito can take your life when you live in a country where the quality of life is far below what we take for granted?

    Still feeling global, go on an international mission trip. As many of you know, the Absecon church sends a team to Guatemala every year. There is nothing more humbling than washing the very dirty feet of a young child and then putting on new socks and new shoes. Although your languages are different, those huge brown eyes say so much more that words ever could. Then you look up into the eyes of the mother or grandmother…well, if that doesn’t teach you the joy of generosity, I don’t know what will.

    When the team speaks, you hear other stories like this. I am very sure, that no matter who you talk to about this kind of giving, they will tell you how they get back so much more than they feel that they give. Why? The joy of generosity, doing out the love for God’s people, and doing as a way of saying thank you to God for all that he has done for you. Not because you hoped to get back or be rewarded.

    11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields
    will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty.
    12 “Then all the nations
    will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD
    Almighty.

    So, if we test God, if we trust in Him and his word and give generously as he has given to us, He will see to it that we continue to prosper by rebuking the locust and protecting our land and our crops. He will see to it that our vines will produce sweet fruit as we hoped when we planted and cared for them.

    God does offer this hope to us. But not as a bribe to get us to give more. Rather, He is letting us know what the reward is for giving. If we use what he has given us to do for his people and his church and do so out of a loving relationship with him, God will take care of us. He will see to it that we are a land of delight. Now this doesn’t mean that every day will be a bed of roses. Or even that our reward will come to us here on earth. But God will reward us in some way, at the time of his choosing.

    Mr. Greear goes on to say in his book, that there are six principles about money that can be found in the bible and that we should view them as a package, not focus on any one principle.

    They are as follows;
    1. God gives excess to some so that they can share with those who have less.
    2. Jesus’ radical generosity toward us serves as a model and a motivation for our radical generosity.
    3. The Holy Spirit must guide us as to which sacrifices we, personally, are able to make.
    4. God delights in our enjoyment of His material gifts.
    5. God, not money, should be our primary source of beauty and security.
    6. Wealth building can be wise.

    As you hear these, can you picture people focusing on any one and running with it? Taking it totally out of context and then saying, “But I read it in the Bible.” You know that people do. And any of us have done so at one time or another. That is not God’s intent. He means for us to be balanced and do the best that we can with what we have been given by Him.

    For some, that means gathering more assets in a wise manner so that we have more to share with those who are in need. And for others, that means giving of our time, helping those who need God’s loving touch in their lives. If we do this, if we do this out of a loving relationship with God, because we want to know the joy of generosity, then all nations will count us as happy, for we will be a land of delight.

    16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD
    listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence
    concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
    17 “They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up
    my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man
    spares his son who serves him.
    18 And you will again see the distinction
    between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those
    who do not.

    Who will you serve? Will your name be in the book of remembrance? When those who revere the Lord speak with one another about you, is it something that you want the Lord to take note of? Do you want Him to listen to them? Will He know that you thought on his name?

    My hope for us is that as we move through our time here on God’s great planet, people will watch us and know that we love God. I pray that people will know we are His people and that He is our guiding force when making decisions, including financial decisions.

    Mr. Greear posed three questions in his book that I would like all of us to keep in mind. “What does your spending show that you delight in? What does your saving show you find security in?” And, “Whose Kingdom are you building?”

    Some years ago, when my grand-daughter was a lot younger, my mother-in-law sent me a gift card for J.C. Penney. I believe that it was for my birthday. Her intent of course, was that I could go shopping and treat myself to some new things. However, at that point, there was nothing material that I wanted. So my husband suggested that I use it to buy some things for our beautiful Miss Rachel. Well, the challenge was on. How much could I get with this one gift card? Well, don’t you know, there was quite a sale going on that included infant and toddler spring and summer outfits. I can’t begin to describe the joy that I felt when shopping for this precious being. I knew that there would be no thank yous. But there would be plenty of happy grins as she opened each outfit. So much joy for her and soooo much joy for me. I called Marti to share my experience and thank her for giving me that opportunity. More joy to be had as Marti felt the joy of generosity come back to her.

    Look for ways in your life to experience the joy of generosity. Little joys and big joys. The joy of bringing in food for the Emmaus food bank. The joy of bringing in unused clothing for the Rescue Mission drop box out in the parking lot. The joy of working with VBS in the summer or the Sunday school program. Sending a card to a shut ins or bringing them a meal or some fresh flowers. The opportunities are everywhere! We just need to be open to them and the joy it brings to us as the giver and to the receiver.

    I almost always include song lyrics in my messages. The following seemed perfect for today.

    I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
    Down in my heart (Where?)
    Down in my heart (Where?)
    Down in my heart
    I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
    Down in my heart (Where?)
    Down in my heart to stay

    And I’m so happy,
    So very happy,
    I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart,
    Down in my heart,
    And I’m so happy,
    So very happy,
    I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.

    I have one more story to share that shows the joy of generosity. A friend recently shared this story with me a couple of weeks ago, about her decision to tithe.

    Some years ago, she and her husband hoped to move. This of course, meant that they needed to sell the house that they currently owned and buy another house. So they listed the house that they owned and started to look for their new house.

    Forty-five days into the process and their house had not been shown yet, she was praying and having conversation with God as she drove home from work. She promised God that they would start to tithe if somebody came through the house and made an offer. She was testing God. Well, don’t you know, she was out working in the yard a few days later and noticed a woman driving up and down the street. She slowed down every time she got near their house. So she walked to the end of the driveway and waved the next time the car came by.

    The driver slowed down, stopped, and opened her window. My friend asked if she needed any help. The woman said that she really wanted to see the inside of the house. My friend called the realtor who rushed over and showed the house. My friend’s husband came home and asked what was going on. My friend responded that the buyer of the house was looking at the house.

    The realtor and the woman came out. The woman said that she really loved the house, but that it was a little too much for her. But my friend was confident that this was the buyer. Don’t you know, the realtor called a few days later with an offer from this woman that my friend and her husband couldn’t refuse? This convicted my friend and they started tithing that Sunday.

    But the story doesn’t end there. They looked for their new house. Much like the buyer of their house, when they found the new house for them, it was too much. So my friend prayed that if it was for them, it would happen. And it did. The seller lowered the price.

    My friend thought that a new job would be nice at this point, especially if the pay was higher than what she was currently receiving. She knew that if this happened, she would of course, increase the amount that they tithed. Tithing had become something that made her feel closer to God, which made her want to give more.

    Would you believe that a job offer was made for a position that she wasn’t expecting. After much prayer, she accepted the job and the pay raise. My friend wondered if she should have asked for more money as she drove to work one day. As it turns out, there was a staff meeting called for that day at which it was announced that everyone was getting a raise, including my friend.

    Filled with gratitude for all that God had provided, my friend immediately increased the amount of their giving once again. This had become an easy and natural decision now, to give so freely and out of love for her God who had blessed them so much and so freely. It is now a joy for my friend and her husband to give and do for their church, their family, their friends, and causes touch their hearts. Their generosity is done with much joy and with happy hearts.

    Let me end with words from Paul, found in 2 Corinthians 8: 10-12

    10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something-11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has-not according to what one does not have.

    Let’s pray,

    Proverbs 3:9–10 (NIV84)

    9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the first fruits of all your crops;
    10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

    Reply
  2. Rick
    November 13, 2018

    Thank you Carol! I really believe your arrows hit the exact center target…really well put together …something tells me this is not your first christian speaking rodeo…your words bless everyone who hears them as only the truth can …..

    In His Name

    Rick

    Reply

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