Summary: It is a biblical principle mentioned in 2 Corinthians that if we “Give generously .... Reap generously.” However, if we “Give sparingly ... Reap sparingly.” God is no one’s debtor.
Opening illustration: Story of Crystal Jagnow …
Introduction: The Bible tells us it is more blessed to give than receive. There are many spiritual laws in place for the giver. We must all learn to be givers in the right way. The Word of God says that we must be cheerful givers. We also must learn to give without expecting to get something back. (Meaning we are not just giving to get a return!)
What are the Five levels of Blessings in Giving? [Paraphrase all the stories in Biblical Reference]
1. Brook Level (Elijah @ the Brook) 1 Kings 17: 1-7 ~ (pertains to all those in ministry)
God wonderfully suits men to the work he designs them for. The times were fit for an Elijah; an Elijah was fit for them. The Spirit of the Lord knows how to fit men for the occasions. Elijah let Ahab know that God was displeased with the idolaters, and would chastise them by the want of rain, which it was not in the power of the gods they served to bestow. Elijah was commanded to hide himself. If Providence calls us to solitude and retirement, it becomes us to go: when we cannot be useful, we must be patient; and when we cannot work for God, we must sit still quietly for him. The ravens were appointed to bring him meat, and did so. Let those who have but from hand to mouth, learn to live upon Providence, and trust it for the bread of the day, in the day. God could have sent angels to minister to him; but he chose to show that he can serve his own purposes by the meanest creatures, as effectually as by the mightiest. Elijah seems to have continued thus above a year. The natural supply of water, which came by common providence, failed; but the miraculous supply of food, made sure to him by promise, failed not. If the heavens fail, the earth fails of course; such are all our creature-comforts: we lose them when we most need them, like brooks in summer. But there is a river which makes glad the city of God, that never runs dry, a well of water that springs up to eternal life. Lord, give us that living water! (Pertains to God’s divine providence)
Illustration: Story when my parents were unemployed and God provided financial support for my sisters and my education (which was very expensive). More than 35 years have gone by and till today we don’t know from where the help came. But we know God had raised some person somewhere in the world to meet our need. Is there anything impossible for God? Is His hand shortened? Has His treasury run out? …
Application: Many people want to justify their status of not-working or unemployment and live on government aid and do nothing about their life and shift their responsibility on God by saying, ‘He’ll take care of us just as He took care of Elijah.’ They don’t realize that Elijah’s context (he literally was called by God to work for Him) is very different from theirs and we need to work for our subsistence. Let us not forget what Paul told the believers in Thessalonica … “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3: 10)
2. Box Level (Widows Penny) Luke 21: 1-4 ~
From the offering of this poor widow, learn that what we rightly give for the relief of the poor, and the support of God’s worship, is given unto God; and our Savior sees with pleasure whatever we have in our hearts to give for the relief of his members, or for his service. Blessed Lord! The poorest of thy servants have two mites, they have a soul and a body; persuade and enable us to offer both unto thee; how happy shall we be in your accepting of them! Others gave from their abundance but she gave from her scarcity, basically from nothing. God saw her heart above everything else … today God is seeing our hearts … whether we are going to be cheerful givers or grumbling ones. The choice you have to make …
Illustration: Story of a Seminarian who had his last five dollars left in his pocket and gave it away for the offering that Sunday … what followed after that was amazing and unbelievable.
3. Barrel Level (The Poor Widow and Elijah) 1 Kings 17: 8-16 ~
The person appointed to entertain Elijah is not one of the rich or great men of Sidon; but a poor widow woman, in want, and desolate, is made both able and willing to sustain him. It is God’s way, and it is his glory, to make use of, and put honor upon, the weak and foolish things of the world. O woman, great was thy faith; one has not found the like, no not in Israel. She took the prophet’s word that she should not lose by it. Those who can venture upon the promise of God will make no difficulty to expose and empty themselves in his service, by giving him his part first. Surely the increase of this widow’s faith, so as to enable her thus readily to deny herself, and to depend upon the Divine promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the increase of her meal and oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are all who can thus, against hope, believe and obey in hope. One poor meal’s meat this poor widow gave the prophet; in recompense of it, she and her son did eat above two years, in a time of famine. To have food from God’s special favor, and in such good company as Elijah, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those who trust in God, that they shall not be ashamed in evil time; in days of famine they shall be satisfied.