Summary: Learn to give in ways that bring joy to others and to yourself

This is the fourth message in our series on experiencing joy. By now you know that joy is a matter of spirit and not circumstance. Furthermore, joy comes by obedience to God’s Spirit and His word and not by accident. When we discipline our thoughts, actions and relationships according to God’s instructions, we experience joy.

This morning, we will look at the action of giving, and how giving releases joy into our lives and into the lives of others. We won’t be confining ourselves to gift giving during the Christmas season. But to start the message, I want to give the men some practical guidelines for gift buying. I came across an article titled: What NOT to Buy Your Wife

1. Don’t buy clothing that involves sizes. The chances are one in seven thousand that you will get her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times.

2. Avoid all things useful. The new silver polish advertised to save hundreds of hours is not going to win you any brownie points.

3. Don’t buy jewelry. The jewelry your wife wants, you can’t afford. And the jewelry you can afford, she doesn’t want.

4. Finally, don’t spend too much. "How do you think we’re going to afford that?" she’ll ask. But don’t spend too little. She won’t say anything, but she’ll think, "Is that all I’m worth?"

I used to think that if I were Jesus, I would have told my disciples not to exchange gifts on my birthday. That instruction would reduce a great deal of mental and financial stress during the Christmas season. Yet, I’m not sure that Jesus Christ is against gift giving on His birthday. After all, the birth of Jesus Christ was a gift from God to mankind.

This morning, we will be looking at how God gave His greatest gift to mankind, and how receiving God’s gift and giving as God gave will bring joy to our lives. The guiding Bible verse can be found in John 3:16.

Sometime ago, I was talking with a lady who refused to receive forgiveness and eternal life from God. She said that it’s too good to believe. You see, she didn’t know how to give freely, so she couldn’t believe that God knew how to give freely either. Instead of letting God determine for Himself what He wants to do, the lady used her own experience to determine what God could do.

This morning, we will allow God’s example of giving to guide our giving. Maybe by understanding how God gave, we would be more willing to receive His gift and to give to others like He gave to us. Let’s look together.

First, God gave out of love ... For God so loved the world that He gave....

There are no strings attached to God’s gift. God didn’t give to us so that we would go to church. God didn’t give to us so that we would give Him 10 percent of our income. God didn’t give to us so that we would obey His commands perfectly. God gave because He loved us.

From the collection of Children’s Letters to God, Lisa wrote:

Dear God, You said you love the world. If this means you love everyone in the world, you must not know my little brother. Signed, Lisa.

Listen Lisa, God knows your little brother. God knows you. And God knows me. He knows our terrible thoughts and actions done in private, and He still loves us. Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

A gift in response to goodness is not a gift but a reward. What God gives to us is not a reward. We don’t deserve to have it. The love of God motivated His giving Jesus Christ to us.

If we want to experience joy, we need to first receive God’s gift of love, and then we are to give to others as God gave to us. Giving for any other motivation than love will not allow us to experience joy.

If we give to reciprocate, we are giving to balance the books. There is no joy in that kind of giving. If we give out of duty, we are finishing a chore. There is no joy in that kind of giving. If we give to get, we are making an exchange. There is no joy in that kind of giving.

When we give to better someone else, who does not deserve to have the gift and cannot pay us back, can we experience the joy of giving. That’s God’s way of giving. What we give away, motivated by love, makes room in our hearts to receive joy.

Maybe one of the reasons why Christmas is often associated with joy, even for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, is because Christmas offers us opportunities that resemble giving to others out of love.

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