The Gracious Giver

The Gracious Giver

How are we, as pastors, to lead God’s people to give? And, how can we preach on that which we are not living out? Please allow this “older brother” to share what I have learned after forty-plus years in the ministry about the power of the gracious giver.

I’m inspired by the power of the gracious giver. My heart still fills with joy from the crazy, over-the-top giving I have seen and still see. Like the feeling you have when you see something fantastically glorious. Like the breath-taking view of the royal gorge, I saw with my toes hanging over the edge. Or the time I saw the crystal clear, bright stary night sky on a West African beach. Or the top of a Colorado mountain looking out across several valleys. Or even a totally unexpected fourth-quarter drive to win the Super Bowl.

Gracious giving produces that. Here are some examples from my life.

  • When I served as a youth minister in seminary, an older widow gave my new bride and me a wedding gift. It was the complete set of silverware that had belonged to her and her husband. That gift still moves me. And convicts me.
  • Last month, in January, the church where I serve as care pastor gave two times our budget. Really! During my last pastorate, we relocated and built an entirely new campus. The faithful believers of that church, where I served for eighteen years, paid the entire cost of the relocation within a few years.
  • Last week, I shared with some of the men of our church a need one of our widows had. She lived in an older home. Her husband died last year. Her windows were single pane, some with rotting wood around them. Her financial resources were significantly limited. The repairs and window replacement costs were in the thousands. I was hoping to raise maybe 20% of the cost. Later that night, one of the youngest in the group sent me a message. He and his wife wanted to pay not part of the cost but all. I still can hardly believe it.

The heavens declare the glory of God. And so do God’s people who graciously give.

As the Stewardship Journal focuses upon preaching on stewardship allow me to share with you a couple of realities we find in God’s word.

  1. We must first become gracious givers by staying focused all the time on the Gracious Giver. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (ESV)

We can’t pastor without knowing God didn’t spare his own Son but gave Jesus up for us all because we can’t be a pastor without first receiving Jesus. And we can’t experience the day-to-day strength, wisdom, and joy found in Christ until we learn to daily receive “all things” God “graciously” gives every day through Christ (Romans 8:32). “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV)

Paul wrote the words “inexpressible gift” after writing much about how we are to give. Cheerfully (Corinthians 9:7). Beyond what we have (2 Corinthians 8:2). Like Jesus who gave until He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). By faith, knowing God will cause us to be enriched in every way (2 Corinthians 9:11). And so much more. Giving is a grace in which we are to grow (2 Corinthians 8:7).

We need to be graced to give. I wonder if some of us don’t preach about graciously giving to the Lord because we aren’t graciously giving to the Lord. Maybe we are giving. But not so much graciously.

This is so important. Not only do we have to stay amazed and focused on the gracious giving of Jesus to become gracious givers, but that’s also how we experience every single other kind of growth in our lives. “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:7 ESV)

Our desire to tell others about God’s grace through Christ, in every area of life, “in all earnestness,” is tied to excelling in gracious giving. Timid preaching on giving is tied to a sinful love for something or someone other than the God who gives us all things.

Become a gracious giver through Christ. Ask the Lord to cause you to be so amazed at who He is and what He has done that you will receive by faith all that He has for you. Ask Him to cause you to give graciously as He gives graciously. Then you can model that to your congregation by:

  1. Preaching on the power of the gracious giver.

Do a series. Mark Brooks suggests we preach on giving ten percent of the time. If you preach fifty Sunday morning sermons a year, that means preach five of them on giving. Makes sense to me. Other times throughout the year, you can take ninety seconds just before the offering and share a giving principle from the Bible.

Tell them not to give to the church or a budget but first to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5). We all have met people who gave to gain power or influence or perhaps to get attention. Not good. They have their reward. Or they gave to earn points with God. You may have seen some of the great religious structures around the world, sometimes built with money thought to buy one’s way into heaven. No gracious giving there.

By God’s grace, focus their attention on God. The Son who was given. What He has done. What His grace accomplishes. How He can cause us to grow in every Christlike way when we trust Him. Challenge them to trust the Lord. Lead them to graciously give. God’s great grace through Christ causes us to turn from selfish stinginess to love and generosity. It’s God’s great grace through Christ that gives us all things.

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