UNWRAPPING YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS”
“Give Till it feels Good”
Romans 12:3-8 and 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
So in our series titled “Unwrapping your Spiritual Gifts” we are talking about 7 spiritual gifts that Paul mentions in Romans 12. Listen now. Now in that list we have already covered the spiritual gifts of leadership, mercy and encouragement which is also known as exhortation. We have been talking about what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ....what it means to be connected and to find and use the gift that God has given to you. Remember we either use it or lose it. Now we cannot lose our salvation. God does not save us and then take it away. But in Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of the talents. A talent in that day was an amount of money. In the parable of the talents Jesus describes 3 men; to one he gave 5 talents, to one he gave two talents and to the last one he gave one. And then he tells us that he gave those talents according to each one’s ability. In other words Jesus knew in advance whether that individual would handle the talent/money properly or not. The man to whom Jesus gave 5 talents invested in and when he came back he had ten instead of 5. The man to whom Jesus gave two talents put his to work and came back with 4 instead of two. But the one to whom Jesus gave one took his and dug a hole in the ground and buried it. The conclusion to the story is that Jesus takes the one talent away from the man and gives it to the man who has ten. Why? Because he wise with what he had received. He didn’t waste it. So with you spiritual gift you can choose to use it or you can choose to lose it. I talked one day with a guy I knew in high school who was an excellent trumpet player. Best in our county. I said I guess you must great by now. He said “Oh I doubt I could even play it anymore. “ I said “how do you forget to play a musical instrument?” He said well I just put it away and didn’t pick it up anymore. Use it or lose it.
So Paul names 7 of these spiritual gifts and I like to refer to them as motivational gifts. They are what motivates you; what drives you and makes you who you are and if you use these gifts throughout your lifetime you will be very effective in God’s work. The scripture is very clear that all of us have at least one of these gifts. 1st Peter 4:10 says “each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.”
Today we want to talk about the spiritual gift of giving. Now giving is not always the most popular topic for pastors to talk about. But all of us have to understand that just as it takes money to fund the business where you work, it takes money to do God’s work. Let’s get started with a definition of the spiritual gift of giving: The spiritual gift of giving is the supernatural ability to contribute one’s material resources to the needs of others and to the work of the Lord in a sensitive, effective, generous and cheerful manner.
So Paul writes to the church in Macedonia to tell them …. You are really doing a good job in the area of giving! Listen to what he has to say to them: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. They had excelled in giving and Paul wants them to know he is proud of them.
When we excel in something...whether it is sports....in a certain subject in school or in our jobs ... when we excel it usually means that we do that one thing better than we do other things and it also means that we often do it better than others. Paul is saying to all of us that we must learn to give and that we must learn to give generously. The Bible also gives us some principles for giving...some rules to live by.
1. Jesus says when you give don’t make an announcement about it. Do it in secret. Privately. He says if you do it for praise from others you will miss your reward in heaven. In Matthew 6 he says don’t announce it with trumpets. Now they weren’t literally using trumpets but they were calling attention to themselves.
I’ve always thought it interesting that the last public act of the ministry of Jesus was not a sermon or a miracle but He spent the day evaluating someone’s giving. Jesus visited Herod’s temple and sat down by the treasury, the place where they collected the offerings. Jesus spent the last day of his public ministry observing those who were giving their offering. Mark 12.
This what that would have looked like. There were 13 treasuries in the courtyard...each one bearing a letter that signified the purpose of that particular treasury. Different ministries they gave to. Taxes. Their tithe. All of this was paid at the Temple. Now we pay our taxes elsewhere but we still receive tithes and offerings here. We could have collection boxes in the lobby but instead we use an offering plate. And in case you don’t know all of the money that we have to support the church comes from this body of believers. We don’t receive assistance from some outside agency. It all falls to us. So my wife and I have been tithers …. A tithe is 10% of your income and we have done that together since we got married and both us were tithers before that as well. I think you have a right to know that we do not ask you to do something we are not willing to do.
Now each of these treasuries were shaped like a tall box with a trumpet...a large cone coming out of it... When someone would toss their money into it, it was possible to make the coins roll around and be heard all over the temple. Some people would bring their entire offering in copper coins so that they could throw it in and everyone would notice their giving. They might even throw it really hard. It was an announcement. Jesus sat and watched these people as they walked by dropping their coins into the boxes. Apparently this matter of giving meant a great deal to Jesus. Listen. It not only matters that we give...it matters how we give.
Paul reminds us of another principle. Give according to your ability. 1st Corinthians 16:1-2. If God has given you the ability to give more, then do it. Don’t hold back. But don’t think that giving is only required of those who have great resources. That’s why the tithe is the best way. If you receive 100.00 a week, you give ten. If you receive 1000.00 a week you give 100. It’s 10 percent and the tithes and offerings are what make this ministry possible.
We remember the story of the widow and the mite. Jesus tells this story in relation to the same day when He observed those who were coming to the treasury with their gifts. Some were making an announcement about their gift. This woman’s gift said more about her heart. She had very little but she gave it all. Here is the way Jesus says it....Luke 21:1-4. So whether we have much or we have little there is the commandment to all of us to give.
But then there is this spiritual gift of giving and how do we know if we have it? Some guidelines...people with this gift:
1. Will give even when it makes things harder for them. Even if it will bring hardship on them. They do it because it brings them real joy.
2. When they learn of a financial need someone has, their first thought is not I wonder who can help them....their first thought is what can I do?
3. They enjoy giving without recognition. A person with the gift of Giving is greatly encouraged when they can meet a need.
4. They have the ability to discern whether an investment is wise or not.
5. They are willing to sacrifice financially if it will meet a real need.
So here are 6 items to consider. If you have at least 4 of these you may have the gift of giving.
• Your financial resources are above average.
• Your life is an open book for others to see. You don’t try to impress others constantly. You are transparent.
• You believe possessions are meant to be shared.
• It is not important for others to know all the good that you do.
• You enjoy investing in the ministries of the church.
• You have the ability to always find the best resources to meet a need.
Now I gave you two principles concerning giving.
(1) Don’t make an announcement about it
(2) Give according to your ability and now
Here is the last one, number 3.
(3). Give with the right attitude, never expecting anything in return. The Bible puts it this way....don’t give with a grudge or out of necessity for God loves a cheerful giver. In the Greek NT that word cheerful can be translated hilarious. In other words be happy about it...be excited about it...Have the right attitude. I like to say reach over and ask if you can borrow someone else’s wallet or purse for a moment, take out a check and give like you always wanted to. JK. ?
Listen, if you’re struggling right now with giving, it’s probably the best time to start. Because it’s time for you to show God that you trust Him with your money. Listen if God didn’t think you were capable of giving He wouldn’t ask you to do so. He gives us everything we have: yet He only asks for 10% for His work. If the entire church were giving 10% we would give more to start new churches because we wouldn’t be able to use it all right here.
There are many outside the church and some inside the church that simply don’t understand how the church is funded. One pastor was asked recently if there was a cover when you come in. ? Another asked how much the fee was to join. Well there is no cover charge and there is no fee but I also want all of us to understand that if you ever wonder who funds the church, just look around the room because it is the people who sit right here. It’s you. And I want to say thank you to those among who give. I also want to pint out there are no outside entities who support us. The Florida Baptist convention exists because we support them. All of the money to support this church comes directly from your pockets.
A young boy came to church one cold winter day to get out of the blowing snow. He had been trying to sell newspapers but not a single customer had passed by because of the weather. He slipped into the back of the church, just hoping to get warm and catch up on his sleep. Though the Sunday crowd was slim, the boy really paid attention to the sermon and was greatly moved by it. When the pastor was done, he called for the offering. The ushers went from row to row, and when the offering plate came to the boy, he stared at it for a while...he had no money and did not know what to do. He then did something very strange and very beautiful. He stood up and stepped right into the offering plate. By then, all the people had turned around and were staring at the boy. When he looked up, he had big tears running down his face as he said, "Pastor, I don’t have any money because I haven’t sold any newspapers today. But, if Jesus gave His life for me, then I will gladly give my life to Him.”