10 March 2024 – Lent 4/Mothering Sunday - completely4giving - #4 giving generously

Published On: 

Mon 11 Mar 2024 — 9:05 am

Malachi 3:6-12/2 Corinthians 9:1-15/Mark 12:41-44


This is the fourth in our Lent series completely4giving – responding to God’s love

To recap on the last three weeks…

First, Giving Creator – understanding that God is the Creator of all things and the Lord of all history.

Second, Giving Redeemer – declaring that in Jesus Christ God made himself known and acted to save the world.

Third, Giving Enabler – acknowledging that through the Holy Spirit, God is at work in the Church and in the world to fulfil his purposes…

And today, we are looking at Giving Generously – recognising that our skills and abilities, our money and material wealth are all gifts from God.

At the same time, we are also remembering that it’s Mothering Sunday, and in many respects our Bible readings pick up on this.

The readings help us to express our gratitude, with a sense of thankfulness for our mothers, who brought us into the world, for their generosity…

…as well as remembering all who have cared for us throughout our lives…

…also in our thankful response to God, who is at work in our lives, especially when we find ourselves in the wilderness, perhaps isolated, on our own, in need of encouragement, comfort and love…

This theme of thankfulness is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.

In response, Paul, though his letter, is encouraging us to express a real sense of delight and happiness because of the good things that God has done…

…and is doing, as we deepen our relationship with Him…

These verses emphasise the positives of God’s loving provision for our daily needs and the joy that can come from our responding generously…

…sharing the gifts that God has provided for us - our time, our abilities, our money - giving of ourselves in a way that reflects something of God’s giving to us…

The Bible teaches us much about giving, alongside all that we learn for ourselves in life:

Our giving must come from the heart, and the motives in our hearts need to please God, for He is more concerned about the motivation than the amount given.

Our purpose in giving should not be the hope of becoming wealthy. Rather, our desire should be to benefit others and express appreciation for God’s goodness to us.

We shouldn’t let a lack of faith in God’s provision keep us from giving freely and generously, for God is able to meet our needs.

In the first five verses of chapter 9 of Paul’s letter, Paul expresses his confidence in the generosity of the church in Corinth, a city within the province of Achaia.

They had made a commitment to help the Jerusalem Christians financially, and Paul was tactfully prodding them to follow through.

He had told others of their generosity, and he didn’t want them to embarrass him, or themselves, by not fulfilling their commitment.

He was sending his partners in ministry to help with the preparation of the gift…

In verses 6-15, Paul wrote about the blessings of generosity.

He illustrated generous giving by comparing it to sowing seeds.

The farmer who puts a few seeds into the ground will have a small harvest, but one who plants liberally will have a bountiful harvest.

The giving was to be done cheerfully, not because the giver felt pressurised.

God wants us to give cheerfully to the Kingdom of God, as recorded in verses 6 and 7:

 “6 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

Therefore, our giving should be motivated by our relationship with God, our love and compassion, and not fear.

In response to how much to give, a specific amount was not stated, for Paul wanted these people to give the amount God laid upon their hearts.

In this context, Paul was not speaking of tithes, which means one tenth.

Usually when tithing and giving are mentioned, as referred to in our reading from Malachi, we focus on 10%, which is a guide, not an absolute.

God doesn’t limit those who follow him to a certain percentage.

Paul, in this letter, is encouraging the people of Corinth to make a generous offering for a specific need.

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, Paul mentioned that the churches of Macedonia “gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”

In the early church, as we touched on in our study material last week, reading from Acts 4:34:

“there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales” 

In 1 Corinthians 16, Paul says to God’s people, “each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.”

So, the question isn’t automatically, “Should I give 10%?”

Our prayer should be to God: “Lord, it is all Yours, guide me to give cheerfully and sacrificially for Your glory.”

As we heard in our gospel reading, according to Mark, the poor widow was highly praised by Jesus for her generosity and selflessness as she places two ‘very small copper coins’ in the offertory chests.

The point that Jesus makes is simple yet fundamental: the woman, although giving little, nevertheless gives ‘all she had.’

Paul knew that if the Corinthian Christians honoured God with their giving…

….if they denied themselves in order to give sacrificially and generously to others, God would bless them.

And Paul suggests that the prayerful response of the Christians in Jerusalem would be, as we heard in verse 15:

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

So, did the Christians in Corinth fulfil their promise?

The answer is found in Paul’s letter to the people in Rome (Romans 15:26), when he wrote:

“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.”

And I’m certain they expressed their praise and thankfulness to God for all they received…

So, to sum up what Paul is writing:

God, through His generosity, gives us what we need.

In appreciation of God’s gifts to us, we are able to give to others.

Those who receive the gift glorify and thank God.

As we’ve heard, God loves “a cheerful giver”

So let us express our gratitude to God by willingly giving back to God and to those in need…

…our time, our talents, our abilities, our money, our material wealth…

…to enable His Kingdom on earth to grow and flourish…

…and all to His praise and glory…      


Mike Lodge/10 March 24