Summary: A textual lesson on giving based on Hannah’s promise and gift to God.
GIVING THAT HURTS GOOD
INTRODUCTION: Tony Campolo is an American minister who has devoted his life to mission work in the world’s poorest countries. And from one of his many mission efforts, he tells a story of a homeless man who offered to share his coffee with him. Seeing the condition in which this man lived, Tony said the coffee must have been swimming with filth, but he took a drink anyway. He then said to the homeless man "that’s very generous of you to share your coffee with me." And the homeless man replied "I believe that when God gives you something extra special you should share it."
Each of us has been given something extra special from the hand of the Lord. He has given us life, and not only that but life abundant through Jesus Christ. He has given us the means to provide for our families, put a roof over our heads and clothes on our back. Gift that many in our world do not share. I Peter 4 tells us to put our gifts to work in the kingdom of God. The question often asked is how? From the story of Hannah found in I Samuel 1 & 2 we are given answers.
I. GIVING OUGHT TO BE SACRIFICIAL
A. Hannah had been barren all her life, a condition that was heart wrenching to say the least and also an issue of great social shame. (Many considered the inability to bear children and punishment from God. The text also gives witness to the ridicule she was forced to endure.)
1. So, with a burdened heart and troubled life she went to God. Her plea was one of desperation but it was also one of faith. She wanted a child, needed the fulfillment that only a fertile womb can provide. So as she prayed she pledged to surrender her child to God if He would grant her petition.
2. Consider how much faith, how much conviction, how much trust such a commitment would take! I believe that God did, because after He took measure of her faith He touched her womb and she conceived a child, but that may not be the greatest image in this story. The greatest may in fact be Hannah walking into the Temple with her baby boy and placing him in Eli’s arms.
3. Hannah kept her promise. She fulfilled her pledge and in so doing she gave the greatest gift one could give. She gave the dearest and the best – her son. Truly she gave through great sacrifice. (Interesting to note the imagery – God & Jesus).
B. There is a great example for us in this story and in more than one way. Hannah’s gift to God shows us how we ought to raise our children – giving them to God. Nothing is more important – not an education, not popularity, not social acceptance, not financial success, and especially not sports which is nothing more than recreation and entertainment.
1. But Hannah also gives us a tremendous insight into the depth of true stewardship. When she surrendered her son to God, she did so with great sacrifice, Her only child, the child of promise who removed the stigma of a barren womb and the shame that came along with it. She gave all that she had when she walked out of the Tabernacle leaving her son behind and I am sure she did so with tears and with pride.
2. Our giving to God would do well to mirror hers. We should give our children to God – "raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." We should also give sacrificially as far as our finances go, so as to praise Him and prove to Him our thankfulness.
b. II Corinthians 8:1ff
II. GIVING OUGHT TO BE PURPOSEFUL
A. As I examined the story of Hannah one verse jumped out and grabbed my attention. It is verse 11. "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head."
1. When Hannah uttered these words, she pledged to give her first born son to God and in that pledge she promised to give him for God’s service. (The significance of the phrase "No razor shall touch his head" – Nazarite vow, a pledge of consecration/separation to God – of surrender to His service and His will).
2. In verse 22 Hannah says that this child would "appear before the Lord" – as in the form of a servant, and "remain there forever." Her gift to God would be a gift that served His purpose/His will. Keep in mind that this was not a gift of impulse nor one to remove guilt or to elevate her in the eyes of others. She gave her only son to bring great service and success to God, and to glorify His name in thanksgiving.