Summary: Find the joy in giving that the Philippian church discovered.
I Gave At The Office
I have on the platform today some items that will help us with today’s topic. When you see this red bucket, what do you think of? You probably think of someone standing outside a store during the Christmas season ringing a bell. What does that person want you to do in response to the bell and the bucket?
He wants you to give some money to this particular charity. Here are some other symbols of giving in our society…
When you think about giving or being generous or charitable, what other symbols or people or thoughts come to your mind?
Televangelists Telethon (Jerry Lewis, PBS) Telemarketers
March of Dimes Relay for Life Sally Struthers Shriners School fundraisers Kidney Foundation
How many of you, when you know that someone is going to ask you or expect you to give, get really excited and can’t wait to give away your money and maybe you even laugh out loud because you get such a thrill out of putting money in a bucket or a boot?
How many of you have children who get excited about throwing money in a bucket or a fountain or a fireman’s boot? Children love it don’t they? But as adults who have to earn the money, we are not always thrilled about someone asking us to part with it.
Do you ever devise strategies to help you get past the person asking for money? If someone else is giving or talking to the Salvation Army person, do you try to hurry past while they’re distracted? Do you try not to make eye contact? Do you try to not come to a complete stop when you get close to the fireman of the shriner in the intersection? How about this line, “I’ll donate on my way out”?
Today we are going to finish a series that we’ve been calling “Prescription for Joy.” This study has taken us through the book of Philippians and hopefully helped us all better understand how to live a life of real joy. Today we are going to begin in Philippians 4:10.
We are going to finish this series by looking at the joy that comes when we are generous givers, and I know that many of you wish we would not talk about money in the church, but unless you live a life of generosity you will not have the joy that God wants you to have in your life.
Charles Dickens did a superb job of illustrating the results of being a selfish, miserly person. All of the traits of joyless living are embodied in the character Ebenezer Scrooge. His stinginess caused him to miss the truly important things in life and robbed him of all the joy he might have known. The same can happen to us. Though we spend most of our lives thinking about the joy that money can bring when we get it, the greatest joy of money is when we give it away for a greater purpose.
That is why the Bible teaches that “it is better to give than to receive.” When we develop an attitude and pattern of generosity, we will know more joy in our lives.
Let’s read Paul’s thoughts on giving in Philippians 4:10…
Paul wanted to thank the Philippian people for their generous giving, and as he he mentions a problem that the people had. The problem was a lack of opportunity.
We don’t exactly know what this means, but I’ll give you a few possibilities. Their lack of opportunity could have been that they didn’t know where Paul was for awhile. They wanted to support him and help him financially, but they weren’t sure where he was. Or it may have been that they just didn’t have a way to get the gift to Paul. There was no one to take it to him.
We know that the Christians were not wealthy, as a matter of fact they were often living in poverty, so it may have been that they didn’t have the financial means to give a gift to Paul. Whatever the reason, Paul simply says that they lacked the opportunity.
Now, I want to say that we don’t lack the opportunity. We are not at a loss for good causes. I have mentioned a few this morning and you could mention even more I’m sure. As a matter of fact, we have just the opposite problem. One person or one family couldn’t possibly give financially to every worthy cause, and by saying that we should be generous I am not implying that you or I can give to every person or organization or cause that asks us for money. I am simply saying that a generous attitude leads to joy and you and I have many opportunities to be generous.