Summary: Giving generously, beyond a tithe, is promoted by Jesus. In fact, He absolutely promises that if we give generously we will receive abundantly, even beyond measure.
The Paradoxical Sayings of Jesus
"Give . . . & It Shall Be Given You"
In 1968 a Harvard college student by the name of Kent M. Keith wrote a booklet for student leaders entitled: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Meaning in a Crazy World.
The booklet turned out to be quite a sensation. Keith's list of Paradoxical Commandments have shown up on refrigerators and posters all over the world since then. An expansion of the commandments has resulted in several editions of the book in English and in many other languages.
Perhaps you've seen a list of them. The commandments are a surprisingly good-hearted encouragement to do what is right and good despite a cynical outlook on what may happen to you as a result in our crazy world.
For example, here are a few of the Paradoxical Commandments: "People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
But this summer, we're going to concentrate on someone else's Paradoxical Sayings, The Paradoxical Sayings of Jesus. The Paradoxical Sayings of Jesus are not based on what happens in a crazy world, but rather are based on what happens when a good and faithful God is ultimately in control. And what can happen is nothing less than absolutely supernatural and miraculous, completely unconventional and counter-intuitive.
Among Jesus' amazing and incredible sayings are things like these: How who loses His life will gain it. In order to be first, you must be last. In order to be great, you must be least. In order to be righteous, you must know you're a sinner. And in order to receive, you must give.
This morning we're going to focus on the last of these Paradoxical Sayings of Jesus. In order to receive, you must give. Essentially Jesus is telling us that it pays to give. It pays to give!
Jesus' most complete and concise statement of this counter-intuitive promise is found in Luke 6:38. It's in the midst of Luke's version of the Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon on the Plain--a jewel of a promise among a number of golden, stand-alone proverbs for living that each could elicit a great deal of thought and action if we had the time.
His statement in Luke 6:38 goes like this: "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
Essentially what Jesus is saying is this: It pays to give! Yes, it pays to give!
The root idea is this: Give to receive. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it. And in the natural world, according to the kind of logic that leaves God and the supernatural out of the equation, it is absolutely self-contradictory, counter-intuitive, complete foolishness, and anti-common sense.
But that is precisely the point of so many of Jesus' paradoxical sayings. They absolutely don't make sense unless there is a loving, omnibenevolent, sovereign, all-powerful Creator-God involved. In the natural world, when we leave God and the supernatural out of the equation, this is an absolutely ridiculous statement, with no chance of being fulfilled. But Jesus predicates everything He says on the fact that there is a God who is involved with our everyday lives, who knows everything and is the ultimate provider of all things.
So, really. Give to receive. I still remember coming to certain conclusions about life when I was about three years old—the kind of conclusions that we all come to when God is not a factor in our lives. When I gave things away, I no longer had them. I lost them. When I gave, I lost. So I determined according to my selfish, sinful nature not to give much, because whatever I gave, I lost, and I lost for all time. And I suppose, that's really the way it is for most unbelievers. When you give, you lose.
But Jesus is speaking to those who follow Him. When you follow Jesus, your life is completely revolutionized, because you realize you're now living in a completely different set of circumstances governed by completely different principles. And this is one of those different principles based on the different circumstances that should change when you become a Christian, when you recognize that your life is completely dependent on a right relationship with God. When you recognize that, you give, because God commends giving, is a giver, and rewards for giving. So when you give, you don't lose, but you gain. You receive. It is indeed more blessed to give than to receive! It pays to give generously!