Summary: Many people give out of guilt. The apostle Paul says we should give with joy! The only way we can do this is if we first realized just how joyfully generous God has been to us. When we see His joyful generosity, that encourages us to be joyfully generous ourselves.
Opening and Introduction
In our lesson tonight, we hear about farmers that plant seeds. If a farmer doesn’t plant, there won’t be anything to harvest later in the year. His livelihood depends on generously planting as many seeds as he can.
This passage uses a lot of farming imagery. But what it’s really talking about, is giving generously. God wants us to be generous with the gifts He’s given us. He wants us to share with joy and thanksgiving.
Tonight, we’re going to take a look at the generous gifts that God has blessed us with. We’ll also take a look at how God wants us to share those gifts. And finally, we’re going to take a look at how giving can be a joyful experience.
The Generosity of God
God’s generosity starts right at the beginning of Genesis. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV). Many of us are probably familiar with this passage in the Bible. It’s the first story of God, and His gracious sharing of His love by making everything that we see around us, and leading up to the creation of man.
Every day-of-creation built on the last, constructing a perfect world. And on that 6th and last day, He created Adam, and continued to bless him generously with a wonderful place to live.
God made a garden to take care of the special creation. A perfect home to live in. Perfect food to eat. A perfect place for God’s ultimate creation. And later, a perfect partner in Adam’s bride, Eve. God was gracious, and generous, and gave them every gift of life.
Like Adam and Eve, God generously blesses us with everything around us, and provides for our daily needs too. But He also provides for the pleasure of interacting with creation. All of our senses to explore the world, to enjoy the smell of a rose, the sight of a beautiful sunrise, or the taste of a delicious meal.
If you take a moment to think about the wonders of creation, the amazing nature of our bodies, and the beauty of the world around us, we see an untold number of overwhelmingly generous gifts. God has blessed us all.
Adam and Eve took these gifts for granted. They had everything they needed, but didn’t appreciate what they had. Instead, they wanted even more. They got greedy and decided to take the one thing that they couldn’t have, the one thing that belonged to God alone, the forbidden fruit.
But even then, God’s generosity overflowed. Instead of getting rid of the first couple and starting over, He chose to destroy the disease of sin, by offering forgiveness through the ultimate gift, the sacrifice of His Son. And that gift was designed to heal the rift that sin created between God and man.
When we look at all that God has done, we can see, that His generosity is really a reflection of His unending love, His mercy, and His kindness. Even today, God provides for us. We can rely on Him for anything and everything.
God’s View of Sharing
Generations after Adam and Eve, a man named Moses entered the scene. With God’s guidance, Moses led the Hebrew people away from Egyptian bondage and slavery.
God’s blessings continued as they moved from place to place with God providing manna and quail to satisfy their hunger. While wandering in the desert, God gave Moses instructions on how to share their gifts.
Offerings were established to glorify God as well as allow the Levite priests the capability to sustain themselves. The Lord gave these words to Moses:
“A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the LORD.” (Leviticus 27:30, 32, ESV)
Through this law, the Hebrews understood that a tithe of everything was dedicated to God. They were blessed with crops, with herds and the ability to work. But, the first and best 10% of everything they had, THAT belonged to God.
When the Hebrews accepted and respected what belonged to God, He blessed them. Through the prophet Malachi, God said:
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10, NIV84)
God wanted the people to be grateful for all the gifts they received, and to move their hearts towards a good relationship with Him.
But God didn’t just want gifts given to Him, but for the people’s hearts to be open, and to consider the good of those around them. He wanted them to share what they had with the needy, rather than just looking after themselves.