Infinite Access - GIVE - Part 2
Have you ever read the final statement from chapter 10 verse 8 of Matthew’s Gospel, ‘freely you have received, freely give’? You may also be familiar with the old 1970s hymn of the same name, which was probably over sung in most Sunday schools.
But what does giving truly mean for us, living as God’s people today?
“Freely you have received…”
When I was a teenager and we went on holiday, I would always buy a magazine to read. Most of the *ahem* high quality literature of the time, would come with a ‘free gift’, such as a sachet of shampoo, a make-up item or sometimes even confectionary. These ‘free gifts’ would often attract me to buy the magazines (yes, the industry saw me coming!). But that’s the point, I had to buy the magazines. They were never truly free gifts!
Thankfully this is not the case in our relationship with God. You may feel that I’m making a very obvious statement, but we have received the most wonderful gift. Through Jesus’ death on the cross we have the hope and assurance of spending eternity with him. This is not through anything we did. We didn’t get top marks on a test or earn the rights to this great gift. This is the FREE GIFT of God’s Good Grace. I wonder if we genuinely understand the hugeness of this free gift. We are saved. We are free. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of God. Amazing!
In the current buzz of Health and Well-being culture we are encouraged to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude daily; being thankful for all that we have, aims to promote awareness and a healthy mindset. How often do we show our gratefulness to God for the free gift of Grace he has given us through Christ Jesus?
In Dido’s 2003 song ‘Life for Rent’, the last line of the chorus suggests that ‘Nothing I have is truly mine’. I believe this can be likened to our lives. James 1:17 states that ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above’. Look around you. What do you see? Perhaps it’s a home with food on the table, a workplace where you are able to earn money to provide for your family, friends whom you are able to enjoy life with or simply the beauty of creation. Whatever it is, each of these is a gift from our Lord Jesus Christ. These things belong to God, they are on loan to us as Christians.
There may even come a time, where we need to give up these things and entrust them back to God. This can be a real challenge for us and can be sincerely hard to accept. But we need to remember that all that we have are God’s Good Gifts to us and they belong to him. Nothing we have is truly ours.
But God is not some big loan shark in the sky. He certainly wants us to have good things. Psalm 85:12 states ‘Indeed, the LORD will give what is good’ and he does give us those good things. As a response to that amazing free gift of Grace which we have, we should want to give back to God.
Those who attend St Bart's may remember we had a sermon series on Giving a good few years back and some members of the congregation got hold of the Ron Kenoly Song ‘Give to the Lord’ (I’ll let you youtube that one).
In true Roby fashion this was performed as part of the introduction to the series. There will be photo evidence around somewhere I’m sure. But I (and indeed many others, I’m certain) have never forgotten this and the great verse from Luke 6 to which it refers;
“Give to others, and you will receive. You will be given much. It will be poured into your hands—more than you can hold. You will be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.” (ERV)
If we give to others as we have been freely given to, then God promises that we will be blessed with even more.
Giving to Bless others
When we talk about giving in our Christian faith, we almost always automatically think of money. This sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable, including preachers. Looking online I found that ‘giving’ or ‘money’ was one of the top 10 topics which preachers least like preaching about, although the article was very clear that they should do it anyway. Money is an important part of our giving and indeed tithing is biblical. Our financial donations can make a real difference. However, that is not the only way to give.
At St Bart's we have had a really difficult few months after the tragic loss of Clive, our much-loved church warden. However, it has been incredible to see how the church has given of themselves and gone the extra mile to support the whole family. This has looked like different things, but always been sacrificial and reflective of the free gift we ourselves received.
Giving to others at a hard time will be more natural and perhaps even seem easy. But we need to remember the sacrifice which Jesus made for us on the cross. His giving was sacrificial, so ours should be too. We need to remember to give, even when it is hard and costly for us. We need to remember the words of Luke 6:38, that if we give, and give sacrificially, then we will receive so much more of God’s good gifts.
When we explore the action of giving, it can help us to see different ways that we can serve the world. Giving is a big part of God’s heart for his people and he wants us to share all that we have. I pray that we will be reminded each day of God’s FREE GIFT of Grace which we have received, that all we have comes from God and that we will be inspired by the example of Jesus to give selflessly to others.
Over the next week why not take up one or all of these challenges below:
LOOK around you and find at least 3 things each day which you can thank God for
CHOOSE someone who you think would benefit from being blessed… and go do it!
PRAY, ask God to show you where you could give more