Sunday  22nd March | Sermon 

 Giving is a Lifestyle

LENT 4

Giving is a Lifestyle. 

Deut. 8:10-20, Luke 6:27-38.

As a Parish, recently, we have been made aware of the need to increase our financial giving. What I would like to talk about in the middle of the COVID 19 virus pandemic, is that giving is a lifestyle. I’m speaking now of giving in general. We can be givers or not. 

From our gospel reading this morning Jesus outlines a lifestyle that he would like each one of us to live, what does it say? Love your enemies, give to those who ask, whoever hits you on the cheek offer him the other one also and everything else…….It is this type of behavior and lifestyle that sets us apart from the world. We believe that we live in this world as followers of Christ, but there should be a marked difference, from those who are not followers of Christ. 

I have read of many instances in the past where the behavior and actions of Christians have stood out as extraordinary, especially in times of crisis. The Christians cared for each other, they looked after each other, but not just each other, everyone they came across. Last Week at the Persecuted Christian Refugee conference, the guest speaker, a clergy, spoke of the kindness and communal caring that the Christians lived in comparison to other faiths.  There is no need to elaborate on that point as it has been mentioned before in other sermons. 

The gospel reading lays down that even those who don’t know Christ will love those who love them. We are called to be set apart, so we as Christ’s followers will go the extra mile. Or as it says in the scripture “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful.” We are not to judge so that we will not be judged. 

What Jesus says, is that the way we behave towards others, is the way that Jesus will see us. Our attitudes towards others, determines God’s attitudes towards you and I. Verse 38 however is the crux of this scripture for giving. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”

The reward will be great. There is a reason for choosing this lifestyle, there is an eternal reward not only a physical reward.  

This gospel reading is just one of many texts in the word of God that explains  and tells us, how we can live life to the fullest . 

From the first testament reading, the Israelites in the desert were reminded about the laws they were given then, the Torah. They were reminded not to forget their Lord who had brought them out of Egypt. The one who had fed them when they needed food. Lest they thought their good fortune was due to their own strength and hard work, their foresight etc. 

Sometimes we today in the 21st century can think the same, that all the positive traits we have, or that we have achieved well, is due to our own doing. We got here because of what I did, because I did this and I did that, I chose that career path or I chose this area to live in etc. So, let us recall Deuteronomy 8:18 “But remember the Lord Your God for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth and so confirms his covenant which he swore to our ancestors as it is today.” 

I’m sure that you will all agree with me when I say that God’s word, definitely teaches us, how we should live our lives and how we can have life. John Maxwell thinks and I agree, that though the word tells us how to live a successful life or life to the fullest, we are lacking in the ways of how to manage the resources that we are given or that we are blessed with.

Psalm 24 outlines and reminds us that everything belongs to God the world and all that is within it. The world belongs to God alone the Creator and Sustainer of all things. It seems only fitting that if God created everything, God alone knows how we should live our lives to maintain and care for the world, that was a good place in the beginning.

If we are doing as the word says, if we are giving to glorify God’s name then there are prerequisites required so that this can happen effectively. 

  • Total surrender to God : Lordship, surrender, dedicating yourself to God. Being born again, what Nicodemus lacked.  

Maybe, it was in the prayer that you said when you became a Sunday school teacher …or in your room when you promised to follow Jesus Christ… 

The first thing that we give to God, is ourselves…..some would say your heart , your life and this is where it all starts. A new life, 2 Corinth; 5:17. This is given, in response to Gods love for each one of us. 

Every Sunday, when we receive the offering in the church, we offer back, what God has blessed us with. We stand to say, take our lives as well. We remind ourselves and the Lord, of our total surrender to him. When we give our lives to Jesus Christ and open our hearts to the Spirit of God then we will realise a new meaning, to giving.

When Christ’s teachings and the will of Christ slowly seeps into our human life, slowly… we will give more of ourselves to others and think nothing of it. It will become the natural thing to do. This is the work of the Holy Spirit not you or me.  

  • Know the benefits of biblical giving

  • Apply the biblical giving principles to our lives

When John Maxwell checked the concordance for verses, throughout the bible on giving or being a giver, he found 2162 verses. This was 3 times more than verses containing love, and 7 times more than prayer. Because giving and being a giver is found so many times throughout the word of God, is it not obvious that God wants us to be givers in life, all of us. “God desires to bless us and provide us with the necessities of life. God desires to take care of your needs and my needs. We’re His children and if God sees the sparrow when it falls; and God can count the hairs on our head, then He knows about us. He knows everything about us and God wants to take care of our needs.” 

Maxwell suggest that for God to take care of our physical and financial needs there are 2 things that we must do. 

  1. Ask God to provide and meet our needs. This is endorsed in the Lord’s Prayer.

  2. Give generously : God is not about to give you something that you believe is yours and that you keep for yourself and are unwilling to pass on. When we as believers understand our responsibility as asset managers, we can gratefully receive what God passes to us and enjoy what He has entrusted to us. 

But if we start thinking of ourselves as owners, it becomes much harder for us to open our hands (and our hearts) to give His money, gifts and treasures for His purposes. 

You may have heard the story of a father taking his son to Macdonalds. He buys his son, some chips, as he isn’t feeling that hungry. Shortly after, they were seated at the table and his son started eating his chips, the aroma made the father feel peckish, so he reached out to take a chip from the packet on the table. 

To his surprise his son moved the packet away from him saying” these are mine, you can get your own.” His father was stunned and shocked. Didn’t his son know that not long before, he had used his own money to buy the chips that his son was claiming were his own? The Dad could’ve just gone and bought another packet of chips for himself, but he wanted to share the same packet with his son, fully aware that really he owned them, as he paid for them.

 So it is sometimes with us, we say recite psalm 24, knowing that all belongs to God and that we are carers/stewards/ managers of this gift. Then sadly, we think we own it and become selfish, not wanting to share it with God or anyone else. If we just release back to God, who knows what could happen? The Lord would multiply in his own way and take the gift to a higher level, where God is glorified. God the giver of the gift. But some of us will hold onto the gift as our own, so the Lord never will get a chance to bless the gift and use it to his glory.   

Giving is a lifestyle. During this time of the Pandemic, what are we giving? to ourselves, others, our family, our community, our church, our country, the world. What can we give? Perhaps our gifts, good health, wisdom, peace, time, wealth, love, transport and there is so much more. I’m sure that we are all giving in our own way. Praise God. 

This lifestyle of giving consists of giving in all areas of our life. Remember also that to give, we need to be able to receive gratefully from above and from those around us. The giving and sharing of the gifts and blessings that God blessed each one of us with, is the lifestyle of giving which we are called to live as the body of Christ. 

Rev. Alisa Lasi.

 

Please note that some of the ideas in this sermon have been taken from John Maxwell’s sermon Stewardship: the Missing piece to successful Living. Please go to this sermon if you would like to read more fuller information on this topic. https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-benefits-of-lifestyle-stewardship-john...  

HAMILTON
EAST METHODIST
PARISH

07-856 3940
hameastmeth@xtra.co.nz 

 20 Wellington St, Hamilton East, Hamilton 3216

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