Written and preached by David P. Nolte


Bob McCune, U.S. Congressman, took his kids out to eat at a fast-food restaurant. As he and his kids sat down to eat, Bob smelled the fries in front of one of his sons and reached over to get one. To his surprise, the young boy grabbed his dad's hand, pushed it back, and exclaimed, "Dad! Don't take my fries!" McCune was stunned. He sat in front of his son in silence and wondered, "What happened?" Then the meaning of this "teachable moment" hit him. He thought, "My son doesn't know where those fries came from. He doesn't realize that about five minutes ago I went to the counter, put my hand in my pocket, pulled out the money and bought those fries for him. I am the source of those fries. My son doesn't understand that, if I wanted to, I could take those fries away from him. He doesn't realize that, if I wanted to, I could go over to the counter and buy a dozen orders and cover him with fries. He doesn't know that I don't even need his fries; if I wanted to, I could go over to the counter and buy my own. What I really wanted from my son was his willingness to share with me what I had already given to him." And that's what God wants; He has given and wants us to be motivated to share back some of what He has provided. Consider with me 3 motives for giving, 2 of which will have you giving and feeling good about it.
    1. This is "I have to give and I'll feel like a low-down skunk if I don't. Man! I wish my conscience would leave me alone so I wouldn't feel compelled to give."
    2. Paul urges us not to be motivated by guilt or a sense of "I have to whether I want to or not!" He said, "not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver."
      1. To give grudgingly and under compulsion is giving with an open hand, but closed heart and clenched teeth. It is giving with annoyance at having to give. It is giving and hating it! It is "Phooey!" giving.
      2. Cheerful doesn't mean giggling all the way to the offering box; it means "joyful and prompt to do it." No hesitation, no sense of irritation. It is gladness to render to God what is His and to serve others by giving.
    3. The strength of compulsion giving is that at least some money does come in and can be used for God's work. But the weaknesses are that
      1. It is unblblical to be motivated by guilt or compulsion.
      2. We tend to try to minimize what we consider to be our "fair share" and give as little as our conscience will permit..
      3. It is merely a mechanical, materialistic way of thinking about giving. When we have given, we say, "Well, I've done my part!"
      4. It doesn't bring any joy to the giver or to God.
    4. There are three kinds of givers: the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything from the flint, you have to hammer on it and then you get sparks and chips; to get anything out of the sponge, you have to squeeze it; but the honeycomb just oozes and overflows with its sweetness. You can be a flint giver, or a sponge giver, or a honeycomb that just oozes out giving that is sweet with thanksgiving and praise. So what kind of giver are you? One who gives but hates it? One who doesn't give unless you are forced to? Or one who delights in giving and feels good about it?

This kind of giving, "Have to" giving is meaningless in terms of giving and feeling good about it.

    1. We see needs all around us: people are unemployed, people don't have adequate food; and even more importantly, people need the Lord. When we see a genuine need, and when we have the resources to alleviate that need, that ought to motivate us to give.
    2. See how the Macedonian (Greek) Christians responded to needs: "Now I want to tell you, dear brothers and sisters, what God in His kindness has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them." 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NLT). They are a model of giving to help and to meet needs.
    3. There are weaknesses and strengths to this kind of giving:
      1. The weaknesses of this kind of giving are that
        1. We may be tempted to minimize the need so as to minimize our need to give. We may try to rationalize that there isn't real need to give, so we don't give. "It's no real big thing so I don't have to do anything about it!"
        2. We may not be aware of needs. Sitting right next to you in the pew might be someone with a genuine need, but they are not wearing a sign to advertise it so we just don't know.
        3. We may tend to withhold giving if we don't believe the person in need deserves to be helped.
      2. The strengths of giving when we see a need are that
        1. needs are met.
        2. God is glorified.
        3. There is joy in the heart of the recipient and in the heart of the one who fulfilled a need by giving.
    4. A young boy was taken to a busy shopping center to see Santa. After waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity, it was his turn to sit on the fat man's knee. After the usual "Ho, ho, ho's" and "What is your name" questions, the boy was asked what it was that he wanted for Christmas. "I would like two toy trucks," replied the lad. "And I want two teddy bears, two remote control cars and two video games." "Well," replied Santa, "that certainly is a tall order to fill. Do you mind telling me why you want two of everything?" The little boy answered without hesitation, "So I can share."

This kind of giving, "I want to help" giving goes a long way towards causing us to give and feel good about it.

    1. The Hebrew letter says, "With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name. Don't forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God." Hebrews 13:15-16 (NLT).
    2. Grateful giving causes us to look at what we have in a new light: "God gave it and I'm thankful! Giving, then, is a tangible expression of thanks because we recognize that what we have, He gave us. This kind of giving also brings about thanksgiving in the recipient, so God is doubly thanked: first by the giver and then by the recipient.
    3. There are weaknesses and strengths to this kind of giving
      1. The weaknesses are:
        1. If we are not aware of or attentive to God's blessings or if we take them for granted we don't feel motivated to give.
        2. If we operate on the basis of what we feel, we may not always feel thankful and so our giving is minimized.
      2. The strengths of this kind of giving are that
        1. It reminds us that all our blessings come from God.
        2. It turns our hearts to God in gratitude and worship and praise.
    4. A man and his wife were walking in the park when a 5-year-old boy came racing around a tree, running smack into them. He said, "Dad, where's Amy?" Instantly he realized his error and said, "Oh, I thought you were my Dad, I made a mistake." The man replied, "That's O.K. everybody makes mistakes!" As he began to walk away, they noticed he had a slight limp. The boy turned around and started retracing his steps. "My name is Billy," he said. "You were nice to me, can I give you a hug?" After giving the man and his wife a hug he said, "I have to go now and find my sister, Amy. Goodbye!" Tears came to the couples' eyes as they watched Billy limp to the playground to play with his little sister. He gave his hug because he appreciated their kindness and wanted to express his gratitude.

This kind of giving, "I want to thank God" giving helps us to give and feel good about it.

Let me sum up giving and feeling good about it. During the Depression a young widow and her six year old son prepared to celebrate Christmas. There would be no Christmas candy, supper would be very plain, and the gifts were very simple. She had knit a pair of mittens for her son and herself. They weren't much but they would have to do. Then just as they sat down for supper, the boy raced to the bedroom and came back proudly holding out a gift to his mother. The small gift was wrapped in an old newspaper. "Open it, Mommy, open it!" he said. His eyes were dancing and sparkling with excitement. The mother removed the wrapping to find an old cigar box. Inside the box was a shining copper penny and a piece of paper on which was written in crayon and terribly misspelled, I luv yu mome!" Tears welled up in her eyes as she read those words over and over again. Hugging him she cried, "Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is the best gift I have ever received!" A bleak Christmas Eve was transformed into a joyous celebration of love. It all happened because of a gift joyfully given. it was a statement of love to his mom. And she responded in deep thankfulness and tears of joy. You can bring joy to the Father's heart as show your love by giving all you have and are to Him. Give yourself to Him in faith and obedience and receive from Him the gift of abundant and eternal life. As we sing our song of invitation and commitment, give yourself and all you possess to love and serve Him.

French Fries adapted from Proven Principles Of Successful Stewardship. Billy adapted from a true-life story frm Jim Schibsted. Christmas gift from Vernal Anderson. Sermon outline adapted from "Take God At His Word" campaign.

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