Summary: A simple but profound little sermon delivered on Family Sunday--gently challenging us to reflect: does giving to God make me smile? Several Object lessons and stories were used, keeping the many children in mind.

(this was preached to the whole congregation, but delivered especially with the many elementary age listeners in mind)

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

ILLLUS: How are you doing with your Smarties?

A preacher named Kevin Harmey tells this story about a little boy he knew:

[adapt the story telling part as it works for your message]

You remember Smarties, a row of multicolored, chalk-like, bite-size candies wrapped in clear plastic, about 15 pieces in a pack. They are perfect for sharing.

I am not a huge fan of Smarties, but when I saw Dustin come into church with a fresh roll, I just had to ask him if I could have one.

Dustin immediately became my Smarties hero. He peeled out a piece with a smile and handed it over gladly. This was surprising enough, but at that moment, something happened in this little boy’s heart. From that day on, for the next two years, every time Dustin got a pack of Smarties, he took out the first one and set it aside for me. Every Sunday, Dustin would track me down at church and generously offer me one or more Smarties. He did it gladly, with a smile, as if he enjoyed it.

Sometimes Dustin would open a pack of Smarties during the week, but he would still save me the first round, sugary, chalky tablet in his pocket. By the time Sunday came, the Smarty was a little mangy and would have lint and other pocket paraphernalia stuck to it, but he never forgot to bring it for me.

In those cases, I thanked him and put it in my pocket so I could "enjoy it later."

Dustin loved Smarties. He also loved his pastor. Every week before the worship service began, Dustin and I shared [together].

[The preacher realized that that little boy had the right attitude about giving. He gave the pastor Smarties like we are to give offerings to God.

Since that time, [the pastor] have asked himself many times, How am I doing with my Smarties? (Adapted from Kevin G. Harney, Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005), p. 188-189; submitted by Marshall Shelley, Wheaton)

God wants us to be like that little boy with a pack of smarties. That little boy looooooooved giving away his smarties. You could say he was a “cheerful giver.”

What does cheerful mean? It means being very happy!

So, What does a “cheerful giver” mean? It means someone is VERY HAPPY when they give!

Dustin was a cheerful giver.

Paul, the Apostle, wrote a letter to a church he knew. He had asked the people to help with poor Christians in Jerusalem. They said they would help. We are going to read a part of his letter where he reminded them to give to the poor Christians, and to remember to be cheerful givers.

Let’s read what he said. You can read silently by looking at the screen above:

Planting Many Seeds

6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot. 7 You should each give what you have decided in your heart to give. You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to shower all kinds of blessings on you. In all things and at all times you will have everything you need. You will do more and more good works. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Remember one thing today:

Big Idea: God Loves a Cheerful Giver!

Remember to ask yourself one question:

Big Question: Am I a cheerful giver?

If God wants me and you to be cheerful givers, let’s talk about how we can BE cheerful givers.

I am a cheerful giver when:

1. I have things to give away! (like a farmer has seed to “sow”.)

What did Dustin have to give away? Sports cars? Kleenex? We all have something to give away.

Paul the Apostle tells us that being a giver is like being a gardener or farmer who plants things. Let’s read that part again:

6 Here is something to remember. The one who plants only a little will gather only a little. And the one who plants a lot will gather a lot.

To plant things, you have to have . . . something to plant. What do we call that? SEED!!

To give things, you have to have something to give!

• What do you think Paul was collecting to help the poor Christians that were far away in Jerusalem? Money! (they might say food . . . “good guess! But he didn’t own a lot of trucks and ships to take tons of food on a long trip. So instead, he probably collected . . . money! Yes!”)

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