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Summary: The gift of "giving" is perhaps closest to God's heart. What is it about this gift that makes it so special, and how can we know if we have this particular gift?

OPEN: One preacher told of the time he found himself in a situation where he truly needed to announce publicly what he was giving to a special church offering. “This wasn’t for the purpose of boastfulness, for I was only giving $25, although, at that time, that was significant to me. It was just an awkward occasion and my only recourse was to announce that I was giving a $25 check to the cause.

No big deal.

That Sunday afternoon, I asked our church treasurer how much the congregation had contributed to the cause. He mentioned that it was a good offering but then added, “There is something unusual about the offering.”

When I asked what he meant, he explained, “We got an unusually large number of $25 checks.”

(Don Linscott, http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/158514-3-simple-tips-to-increase-giving-almost-overnight.html?p=3)

Now notice what took place there.

A preacher felt uncomfortable about saying how much he was giving for special offering, but in that situation he felt he had to.

How much did he give? ($25)

What effect did that have on the congregation? (Many gave the same)

As we’ve mentioned in an earlier sermon – God gave certain people in each congregation… special gifts. These are not so much miraculous gifts as they are motivational gifts.

In this case Paul writes: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

If a man’s gift … is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously.” Romans 12:6, 8

Each gift is not only to motivate the giver but ALSO to motivate the rest of us in the church. When you have a giver in your midst they motivate YOU to give as well.

There’s a story in Acts that illustrates that. Acts 4:34-37 tells us

“There were no needy persons among them (Christians in Jerusalem). For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

Notice what that passage is saying.

There were people in the church that sold their properties to supply for the needy.

Then it tells us about Barnabas doing the same thing.

Why did Barnabas sell his land?

Because he’d seen others doing the same and was influenced by their actions.

ILLUS: Back in 2009, a Gallup Poll that those who attend religious services are more likely to be generous in how they use their resources and time. Of those who had attended a religious service in the last seven days:

• 34% Donated money to a charity.

• 26% Volunteered their time to an organization.

• 50% Helped a stranger

According to a recent survey by Barna,

• 79 percent of evangelical Christians gave money to a church or charity last year,

• 65 percent donated items and

• 60 percent volunteered their time.

• Only 1 percent of evangelicals say they donated nothing at all, which beats the national rate (13 percent) and the rate among those who claim no faith at all (25 percent).

My point is this: God places givers in our midst to challenge the rest of us to help the needy.

And it works.

There’s only 7 gifts listed in Romans 12. And that would imply that these 7 gifts are a high priority for God and thus a high priority for God’s people.

Proverbs 14:21 “… blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”

Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Proverbs 19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.” (He’ll repay with interest)

But God is very clear on the fact that this is NOT OPTIONAL for us

Proverbs 21:13 “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” (If you turn your back on the poor… God will turn His back on you.)

In fact, Jesus told the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Do you remember where does the rich man ends up? (Hell)

Do you remember WHY he ends up there? (didn’t have mercy on Lazarus)

“Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” Luke 16:25

Later, Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats. He tells the sheep they’ll be welcome in heaven. Do you remember why?

Matthew 25:35-36 tells us “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

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