Summary: God loves a cheerful, hilarious giver. This is a short all-age appropriate talk using a story and the giving out of chocolates to help people think about the resources God wants them to use hilariously for him.

On one occasion Jesus said: “Give; and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

God is so good to me. God is so generous. St Paul once wrote that “[God] has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17); and in the Old Testament (Psalm 116:5) we read that ’The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.’ In John’s Gospel (3:16) we read that ’God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ God gave his very best - his one and only Son - because he is overwhelmingly generous to us. How wonderful God is!

About 2 1/2 years ago I told the following a version of the following story at an Infant school:

There was once a man who went to the office every day in his expensive car, and made important decisions and signed big contracts. Often, the important man would enjoy business lunches with his clients, and would try to distract the attention of his influential guests away from the unsavoury spectacle of the beggars on the streets of his city. One evening, after a hard day making money, he packed his briefcase to go home, where supper would be waiting for him. As he was locking his desk for the night, he caught sight of a stale sandwich lying abandoned at the back of the drawer. Without much thought he crammed it in his coat pocket. No need for it to go mouldy and mess up his desk. And on the way out to the car park he saw a street beggar on the steps, huddled in an old blanket. ’Here, my friend’ he said to the beggar.

’Here is something for your supper.’ And he gave him the stale sandwich. That night, the man dreamed that he was away on a business trip. After the day’s meeting, he was taken with his fellow directors to the town’s most luxurious restaurant. Everyone gave their orders, and settled down with their aperitifs to look forward to a convivial evening.

The orders arrived: Medallions of venison, Lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic, and Caviar. The dishes being brought to the table brought gasps of delight from all the company. Then the man’s own order appeared. A waitress set in front of him one small plate, on which was served a stale sandwich.

’What kind of service is this?’ The man demanded, enraged. ’This isn’t what I ordered! I thought this was the best restaurant in town!’ ’Oh Sir,’ the waitress told him, ’you’ve been misinformed. This isn’t a restaurant at all. This is heaven.’

’We are only able to serve you what you have sent on ahead while you were alive. I’m very sorry, sir, but when we looked under your name, the best we could find to serve you was this little sandwich.’

Jesus said, “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). And in today’s Bible reading St Paul is partly quoting from Psalm 112 which says this: ’’He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures for ever.”

St Paul writes that ’Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously’ (2 Corinthians 9: 6). It seems that to this is both a physical law and is a spiritual law. It applies to a farmer in his field, it applies to our attitude towards the poor, it applies to our attitude to those in our community who do not yet know and love Jesus, and the context of Paul’s letter shows us that it applies to our attitude to our fellow believers.

Paul was encouraging the Greek Church in Corinth to be overwhelmingly generous in a gift of money they were putting together to send 1000 miles to their fellow believers in the capital city of the Christian faith - Jerusalem!

In our made up story the man gave away very sparingly - a stale sandwich. With the measure he gave so he received back.

Verse seven of today’s Bible reading: ’each one of you should give what you have decided in your hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ Cheerful generosity is at the heart of God’s giving to us, and God loves us to have cheerful generous hearts. Personally, I struggle with the Greek language but the Greek word Paul uses is ’hilarion’. It is the word from which we get our English word hilarious! God loves the hilarious giver who sows generously.

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