How Should We Give To God

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  9 : 6-15
Subject: Stewardship; Giving; Thanksgiving

We want desperately from Him the protective, caring hand. We have seen, we have sensed, we have felt, we have cried out, "Oh God, bless us," as a nation. We have asked for what we have sung of today: for the strength of God to be our strength. We have prayed for the protection of the Almighty that God as our Father would watch over His children and would give us the sense of peace and power that comes from His protection. But in the midst of all of our asking, I want you to think with me today about what God would want from us as His children. Because you see so many times it is the role of a parent to give, to give and to give. But the greatest blessing of all comes when a parent not only is able to give, but also receives. Because you see I believe our relationship with the Almighty is one of reciprocity. It's reciprocal; it's two way. He gives; we get. We get; we give. He gives; we get. We give; we give; He gives. It's a powerful process.

Today I want to invite you to look at it in the scripture with me. As we unfold what the scripture teaches to us about how we, then, should give to God, I believe it's going to speak to our hearts and our lives because we are at a critical time and moment in the life of this church and how we can touch our city and this community and the world for Jesus Christ.

Would you open your Bibles with me to II Corinthians? You'll find there a letter. It was written by the Apostle Paul, but better than that it is a letter that is written by the Spirit of the Living God that invites us to look at it and to discover more of what we need to become as a partner with God in touching the world for Christ.

I'm going to begin by looking at chapter 9 and read several verses beginning with verse number 6. Follow along; if you didn't bring your Bible, reach into the pew, there's one there for you. We want you to hear from the Lord and to follow His scriptures. Verse 6, Remember this, whoever sows sparingly he will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Each man should give as he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor, His righteousness endures forever, now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people, but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of a service by which you have proved yourself, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your expression of the gospel of Christ and for generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else and in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given to you. (Now will you listen to this next verse carefully as we close)? Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

My friend today we have a choice because every one of us has been given an opportunity to do something with that which we have. The questions is this, "How should we give to God?" Because God said we all have been blessed and certainly in America we have been blessed in incredible ways. How should we give to God? Can I just begin by saying the first of three ways:

I. We Should Give Generously

I think we should first, give generously. Verse number six that I read there provides for us the platform upon which to build. We should give generously. If you're following along in your notes, you'll    need to fill this portion in because you see generosity begins in the hearts of those who realize that they have something to give and guess who it comes from? It comes from God. There's not anything that I have or anything that you have that didn't first come from God. He gave it to us and He gave it to us in abundance.

Now I have a little packet of seed here with me today and you see in this packet of seed there are multiple opportunities for planting. But you see, in my little packet of seeds I can either do one of two things: I can leave it where it is or I can rip it open and I can begin to scatter it and if I were to begin to scatter it I would look much like the picture that you are about to see. Do you see it? It provides for us the picture of the sower and in the sower there is the law. It's written in this scripture and the law is simply this, it's the law of sowing and reaping. What we sow, we reap. And the beauty of that is that so many of us who have trusted Christ have many, many seeds to scatter. Oh we've got so much and yet some of us are leaving them right in the package. We're not doing anything with them. We're just holding on to them and we're hoping maybe someday, somehow the soil will be just right, the weather would be just so perfect and then we'll be able to scatter the seed and we'll feel so good about it because it'll rain. We won't even have to haul the hoses out there or turn the sprinklers on. It'll just come together.

Well dream on! Because you see, life is such that it demands that we make an effort in our sowing, just as this man on the screen represents an effort, so we must make an effort as well. Is God wanting something from me? That's right and we'll show you more of what it is in just a moment.

A. Hoarded Seeds Yield No Harvest

I believe there's something else we need to discover as we give generously and that is simply this: hoarded seeds will yield no harvest. If I leave my seeds in this package, this is not going to do any good. I could go and buy all kinds of varieties. I could buy tomato plants, I could buy spinach, I could buy anything and everything that I want to eat; but if I leave it in the package it's not going to work. It's just not going to work! Hoarded seeds will reap and yield no harvest.

I wonder how many of us have the seeds of faith, of knowing Christ and yet we have yet to scatter anything anywhere because we feel that we are not worthy or that our harvest should not be that which is so generous that it would abound and that we won't be deserving. My friend, you've got to listen to God in this because you see every one of us has seeds of opportunity. This church has been blessed beyond measure, my friend, and as we look around we see people and as we see people we see changed lives and as we see changed lives we see a changed community. The scripture teaches us that to whom much is given, much is required. And God has blessed this church and He's now given us a vision. He's given us a vision that is to reach more people than ever before.

During this past month we've been privileged to open up the educational building and because of the opening up of those classrooms we've seen more people pour in. We have children's classes that are without the right number of teachers. We desperately need help. God is growing this church. We are now baptizing more people this year than the year before, than the year before. It's God's wake up call to us to be prepared, to be certain that we're sowing as well as reaping. What we've got to be prepared for is to understand that God's vision is not a limited vision, it is an unlimited vision. One building can reach one soul or many. One seed can either be multiplied or it can remain in the package. In the opening of an educational wing, in the expansion of Simmons Hall, in the opening in January of the Fitness Center, there'll be even more people who will be knocking on the door of Warren Baptist asking, "Where is God in all of this?" We've got to be prepared.

Today we launch an opportunity to make an investment to plant some seeds for many, many years to come. It's entitled Vision 2004 and the beginning of 2002 we'll have the opportunity to see God use this three year campaign to do something through us like never before. You see what He's chosen to do is to allow us to pay off the former debt so that now we can continue to share in an indebtedness to Him to be able to scatter more seeds. You're saying, "Well are we just talking about buildings and budgets?" No we're not! We're talking about people. We're talking about souls. We're talking about lives. We're talking about a world that is devastated because they've never yet met Christ as their Savior.

My friend my heart breaks about what has happened a month ago. We don't love what has happened at all. It brings hurt in our hearts and the tragedies of New York and of Washington D.C. are but a wakeup call to remind us that more seed needs to be scattered. We've got to give generously. We're at a day and time where we begin to wrestle mentally and we begin to think He doesn't understand that the economy is at a downturn. What time is it? Well it's time to test our faith, isn't it? Doesn't He understand that jobless rates continue to rise as the economy sinks? And all the while some of us are troubled about what we're doing, and how we're doing it, and whether or not we'll be able to do any more of it in the next few days and months and years ahead. And all the while God is saying, "Don't you know I have it under control?"

"Don't you know about the law of sowing and reaping?" And as we sow, we will continue to reap.

B. Giving Is Like Planting Seeds

Hoarded seeds will yield no harvest, but you see giving is like planting seeds. That's right. As we give unto the Lord and to His work and scatters seeds throughout this community, we are continuing to watch God work in our midst. But to be truthful with you, this little package of seeds is not enough. What we really need to do is to think big with God and plant much more than we could have ever anticipated. Oh this is just demonstrative of what I believe God could do in an even greater way, but I'm going to be planting pretty soon. Yep, annual Rye Grass! Works every time! All you gotta' do is have somebody to scatter and somebody to scratch the soil before it's sown and then somebody to water it and then to have your boys come home from college and mow it! Dream on! This sack of seed is a reminder of the limitless seeds that could be scattered of the gospel throughout our community.

My friend, I want to remind you that just as those will green, so will the scattering of our seeds, but giving is like planting those seeds. It's an investment that will produce wonderful returns.

C. We Reap As We Sow (Gal. 6:7-9)

There's another truth that comes under the understanding of generosity and it is simple this: we reap as we sow. Because some times some of us think if I reap in my giving and in the commitment that I make to Vision 2004, then maybe it'll bless another generation. No my friend, it'll bless this generation. It'll bless us.

I want you to turn a little deeper into your New Testament into Galatians. As you go toward the book of Revelation, you will discover with me a little book also written by Paul and in Galatians chapter 6 there are three verses I'd like to highlight for you. Galatians 6, beginning with verse number 7 and I want to read through verse number 9. There are two ways that we can be sowing in two different directions and I want to be very careful about the way that we sow and the direction that we sow.

Here's the way the scripture reads (Gal. 6:7), "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that sinful nature will reap destruction. (Now watch this) The one who sows to please the spirit, that is the spirit of the living God from the spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest (watch this) if we don't give up."

You've got the seeds, you've got the ability to scatter, but you're tired. You don't want to talk about it  anymore. You don't want to do anything about it anymore. You've taken the gifts and the abilities and the supplies and the blessings of God and you've just decided that what you're going to do is just sit on it a little while because after all we don't know what's going to happen in this world. So let's don't make any investment anywhere. Let's just be calm, just be comfortable and get at this thing collected together. We miss out and we'll miss what God's trying to share with us because the generosity with which we sow will also be the generosity with which we will reap and that's the powerful law that God provided for us. Let's don't forget it.

II. We Should Give Thoughtfully (v. 7)

So we should give generously but secondly, we should give thoughtfully.

A. Decided = Preferred

Verse number 7 highlights this. Do you remember what I read must a moment ago? If you're go back in your Bible to II Cor. Chapter 9, you'll find verse number seven and here's the way it read: "Each man should give what he had decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver." Now some of us would like to camp out on this verse and say, "Hey, this is good news because you see in my heart, my little bitty heart, I don't want to give anything!" You know what? God has given you a big heart for this big world and you've got to understand the meaning of this word. The word that's there in the New International is the word decided, what a person has decided in their heart. In the King James translation is the word purposed or purposes. What a person purposes or decides literally means to prefer so you say the news is getting even better because I prefer not to give anything! Well let me must help you with the definition of what prefer is. Preference comes from choosing for one's self against anything else. It's a matter of priority.

My friend, some of us have mis-prioritized our lives. Our mortgages are too big. Our debt is too big and our extension of our financial limits to this world is way beyond control.

God can help you with that. We have people in this church who can help you with that. The Lord is not looking to hurt you. He's looking to help you and we must give thoughtfully with great thought and that is the reminder that prayer is the basis of all giving. We should not give out of compulsion, we should not give because we feel like we're arm-twisted; but we should give as God has given to us - in great abundance, and I'll show you how.

B. Never Give By Impulse

One of the ways is that we should never give by impulse. I know what impulsive buying is all about. My mother was that way. Now, I'm not telling anything on her, but she also had the gift of giving. She would bring home all of this stuff and as a teenage boy I would say, "Why did you get that?" and she would say, "Because it was on sale!" And I would say, "What do we need it for?" and she would say, "we don't need it but somebody will need it." And you know what? With her impulsive buying she was also impulsive in sharing.

But when we give to God it ought to be systematic. It ought not to be impulsive. You know every time I pass a fireman or an EMT who's holding out a boot asking for help for those who need desperately the help that we can render in New York and in Washington D.C. and in other parts of our world, I stop my car, I roll down my window and I stuff a wad of bills in that boot. That's impulsive. That's not bad, but it's bad if that's the only time I do it!

Our Father has given to us systematically. He's provided for us daily bread. Every opportunity that we have is before us and too many times we have given out of impulse, rather than out of the need that the Lord sees that is across this world and my friend if we give with thought we won't just give impulsively, we will give systematically and regularly. That's why God instituted the tithe. He didn't say we should tip; He said we should tithe. Yet some of us feel so awkward about this as if we earned it, as if we control our health and even our wealth. We do not; God gives that to us as a gift. He owns it all. In fact the word steward or stewardship literally means to be a house manager.

I guess the question is, is our house in order? Do we have our individual houses in order? Do we have the house of God called Warren Baptist Church in order today? If we're good stewards, then we do. It all depends on what we do with what we have. How's your house? How's it going? You see the Lord says to give with thought, with prayer, with the understanding that He has given to us in abundance and we too can if we will plan and prioritize in the correct way.

I like the way that Paul Bear Bryant put it as the great football coach of the University of Alabama. I remember in an interview that he had years ago with Sports Illustrative. Boy, didn't we have a great day in Georgia yesterday...I'm telling you! Okay, wait a minute! I've got a son in Georgia Tech, so yeah Tech had a great day, University of Georgia had a great day, Georgia Southern had a great day, the Braves had a great day, Barry Bonds hit 72. I mean you know...sports is just good all of a sudden and life is wonderful...until next week!

Paul Bear Bryant understood what it meant to win and what it meant to lose and he understood those who were winners and those who were losers. And he said in a Sports Illustrative interview that there are four types of football players. Number one, there are players who have ability and they know it. (That wasn't me.) Number two, there are players who have ability and they don't know it.

Number three, there are players who don't have ability and they know.

Then he said that there are those who don't have ability, but they don't know it. Then he said that the one that makes you the proudest is the one who isn't good enough to play but it means so much to him and he puts so much into it that he does it anyway and he does it just because. And you know he said we have a lot of those guys on our team. Then he continued to say that the ones who have the ability and don't use it are the ones who eat your guts out! If it's that way to a coach, imagine what it must do to God!

C. Giving Grows Out of Conviction

We have the ability to help share seeds throughout this community and this world and I wonder what God senses in our faithfulness? Giving grows out of conviction and conviction is not as we use it in the legal world. It is not a negative term. You aren't convicted because you are a criminal, but you are convicted in the spiritual terminology and biblical terminology if you hear from God and you're willing to respond. Because you know what, conviction is God's very best for your life and for the building of His kingdom. That's the definition of conviction - God telling you what to do and how to do it to be the very best in your life and the best in the building of the kingdom of God. That's conviction and our giving needs to be from conviction because we've heard that God says, "I've given you this, now you share it with the world." Not just because it's the time or because our emotions are upside down, but because it's the right thing, it's the God thing to do.

III. We Should Give Thankfully (vv. 11-12)

So what should we do? We should give to God generously; we should give to God thoughtfully; and finally, we should give to God thankfully. Do you notice that in verses 11 and 12? Two times it's used there: thanksgiving and thanks. Let me just go back and review it for just a moment. It says, "On every occasion through your generosity it will result in thanksgiving to God." You mean we can bless God?

That's right! Our giving in the upcoming opportunity with an expanded vision to do more in reaching souls for Christ across our community can literally give thanks to God. He amplified it again in verse number 12, look at it there with me and it really reminds me that there are three kings of givers, friends.

A. A Tearful Giver

The first is this - there are those who are the tearful givers and you know who they are. They are those who give grudgingly and they give reluctantly and they weep to the Lord.... and He says, "What?" "I don't have enough, I just can't...." And He says, "What?" "You mean my God shall supply all       of your need according to His riches in glory?" My friend it doesn't mean that whatever you name you claim. That's not the kind of theology I think is biblical here.

But what I am saying to you today is that we all have enough to where we can share and meet the need and scatter seed. Let me demonstrate that today. Some of us want to take the little package of seeds and scatter it and some of us want to just take the bag and others of us are going to get serious about this thing. Now I did not ask the maintenance crew about whether or not I should do this and I thought I'd save it until the last service just because we'd have to clean up between the services. But I'm going to take this seed in here. I'm going to pour it into my broadcaster and as I pour it in, I'm going to walk up and down the aisles so that all of us will be touched by the seeds and we'll never forget what God wants to do in all of our lives. Noooo, I better not! Suffice it to say that IF I did run up and down these aisles and IF I did broadcast the seed up and down, you would not forget it. Why? Because you would be touched by it.

Some of us use limited ways of scattering our seed. Little packages, little sprinkles. Others of us reach into the sack and scatter as we have opportunity. But others of us think bigger and we say, "Oh I'm not going to be tearful; I'm going to move on to God."

B. A Fearful Giver

But then again there's not only a tearful giver, there's a fearful giver. "If I don't give then God's going to hurt me." We believe that if we do not give to God somehow or another He's going to wipe us out. I don't read that in the scripture. Our God loves us, but our God also wants to bless us. And because you don't give doesn't mean He's going to take you out; but you won't get all that God wants to bless you with. I really believe that. I really do.

C. A Cheerful Giver

That brings me to the third and final kind of giver and that is that he or she is the person who is a cheerful giver. What does the Bible say? God loves a cheerful giver.

He loves a cheerful giver. We ought not to just simply say, "Oh you know Lord, I uh, I oh..." We do not need to wrestle over this. We just need to enjoy what God has given us and know that He will give us more. Back in Matthew, chapter 23, verses 23 and 24 it says this: Jesus was looking at those who were so carefully weighing out the tithes. I mean they were measuring the herbs that they had and they were measuring the coins and they weren't going to give any more and they weren't going to give any less. He said, "You strain at a gnat and yet you swallow a camel." Do you wonder what that means? So did I. "You strain at a gnat and you swallow a camel." What kind of funny picture is that?

What He was saying is that to prepare their lives to be so legalistic on track with God, to be certain that they tithed just the right amount - no more, no less - they fasted and they did not even want a gnat to land in their drink. If a gnat landed in their drink they would strain it out so that they would meet the letter of the law. Yet at the same time it was as if they were swallowing a camel and that's where some of us might be today. "God I'm going to give you just this much because that's all I have and all I wanted and all I put down on that card and that's all that you're going to get." At the same time the New Testament giving is cheer-filled giving, joy-filled giving, giving from abundance, giving from joy in our heart, not because we have systematically, legalistically defined just what we're going to give and how we're going to give it.

Friends God says we should give thankfully because He has given unto us. Two questions:

How far are you sowing seeds?

The first is this: How far are you sowing seeds? How far? Still in the package maybe? Still in the bag? Or have you decided that you'll do it God's way and you will really be a broadcaster and get as much out there as possible so that even more can be harvested at the right time?

Do you give from conviction? Or from convenience?

The second question I wonder today is do you give from conviction? In other words has God spoken to your heart about what you should give and how you should give? In these coming days we're going to have multiple opportunities to pray through between now and November the 11th, which will be a great day, a wonderful day where there will be a Joash Chest that will be placed before the church here and we'll have the privilege to bring an offering, a wonderful offering before the Lord and to make a commitment to a vision that I believe God has given this church. It's a vision that expands the next three years to give us the privilege to reach more people, to scatter more seed across the world.


Are you giving from conviction or from convenience? Well, I don't know the answer to that but you do and God does. In these days of exploration and discovery about God's vision for this church, I know His heart and His heart is for you. And friend the greatest gift (don't miss this)...the greatest gift that you can give to God is not from your checkbook, first, or your wallet or your pocketbook. It is first the gift of your life to Jesus Christ.

If you've never trusted Christ or if you have any doubt whether or not you are truly Jesus' child, in just a moment I'm going to stand before this great congregation and I will invite you to immediately come and let's talk about it and let's pray about it. If you know you need to unite with this church family and you know that you have been trying to scatter seeds in different spots and look for the perfect church, friend you'll never find that spot. But if God is blessing you here then this is the place where you need to be.