THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 3-13-11
LESSON TITLE: “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: GENEROSITY”
This morning we assemble before “God our Savior, who alone is wise,” and we praise Him as one worthy of “glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever!” These ideas are confirmed to us by the inspired Jude, from verse 25 of his book!
We are truly excited to have you with us today as we together break the Living Word of God. We are certainly glad that you have chosen this day, to give this time to our Creator - so that together we may Worship and Praise His Holy name!
As we come together this day, it is my hope and prayer that we will each participate and do our part to make this time acceptable before God; a collective offering of those who love God, and who are willing to submit their own sacrifices before His throne.
So, at this time, as we turn our full attention to the reason we have come together, let’s approach our Father’s throne in prayer:
One of the greatest blessings from God is the fact that He gave His only Son to die for our sins! This morning we want to begin with a song that reminds us of the wondrous story of Jesus. So, won’t you join in and participate with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “I Will Sing The Wondrous Story!”
(SONG # 1)
How often do we all make mistakes in this life? We probably all sin more than we would like to admit and we wish we could always hide these things from others, and especially God.
We are not the first to conveniently forget that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere! Remember in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. And as we all know they did not get away with it and eventually they were punished for their sin.
I am afraid that you and I are just as delusional from time to time. Because we do things that we shouldn’t and continue to act as if God didn’t see us or as if He doesn’t know that we did them. Yet the reality is our God knows and sees all and we can never hide our actions and words from Him.
Let me encourage us all to be bold in Christ and to have the heart of David, when he said, “search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties,” Psalm 139:23. This knowledge that God not only can know but does know everything about us will help us to do our best and to strive to be pure in His sight. So let me ask, “are you living every day as if God is always by your side, as one who knows and sees all.” Or “are you living your life in a way that shows you feel you are able to hide and keep things from your Creator. May we never deceive ourselves, but rather live as if God is always there!
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. Our topic of study today, will again deal with our main theme, “Let Your Light So Shine...” The specific title of the lesson this morning is, “Generosity.”
As far as our speaker of the day, we are happy to again have brother Darin Chappell with us. Brother Darin is one of the instructors at the Bible Institute of Missouri here in Springfield. He is also the minister for the Mountain Grove Church of Christ. We thank brother Chappell for being with us this day and we encourage you to stay with us for his proclamation from God’s Word. Now let’s join together in our next song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “All The Way My Savior Leads Me.”
(SONG # 2)
By Darin Chappell
Good morning and welcome as we continue our studies concerning how it is that we should let our light shine before those around us where by our God in Heaven may be glorified by the good works of those who are His children.
To continue the study this morning we look to the concept of “Generosity.” I’d like to take a look this morning from the scriptures concerning what generosity is concerning the giving of Christians, but also not the how only, but also the attitudes that are involved and it’ll take a little bit of practical application as we continue through the process of how it is that our light is to shine before others. Before we consider the possibility of how it is that we are to give, we are told that indeed we are to give. I Corinthians chapter 16 verses 1-2, congregationally we have a responsibility to provide for those who are in need to fulfill the responsibility of doing the work of the Lord as the church as He set forth within His Word. That’s done by the giving of Christians of a free and voluntary will that we can do that work that is set before us just as all works of the church. Benevolence is part of that responsibility that we have and we can’t shirk that responsibility just because of difficult times concerning economics or other difficulties that may befall us. We have a responsibility as the church to fulfill those requirements that are put upon us by our God.
But we are also told how it is that we are to accomplish this giving. We are told how we are not to give in fact. There in Matthew chapter 6 verses 1-4 we are told that our giving is not to be done as in putting on a show, a spectacle for others to see so that an individual might be able to glory in the fact that they have given much or that they are able to give more perhaps than someone else. It is not about individuals being able to show off in their giving. Jesus said of such individuals that gave in the streets and drew great attention to themselves, verily they have their reward. They were seeking the praise of men and women around them and that’s exactly what they got. But they failed to receive the praise and respect of God in their giving for it was done for an improper purpose.
What we are to do instead is to give because of the need that is there among us. There in the 1st century as the apostle Paul was writing to the brethren there in Corinth in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 specifically there was at the time a famine that was taking place in the land around the city of Jerusalem. Many of the Christians of the era in that particular area were suffering because of this famine and the apostle Paul, in writing to the brethren at Corinth and apparently other places as well, was taking up a collection on behalf of the saints so that their needs might be met and that they might be able to rely on their brethren in other parts of the world. In fact, it is in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 that the apostle Paul deals with the brethren of Corinth concerning how it is that they had not been giving as they had been commanded to do, as they had been directed to do to fulfill the work. In fact, the apostle Paul deals with the brethren in Macedonia. Now Macedonia was the Northern part of what we consider modern day Greece and Corinth was in the Southern part of Macedonia and so there was a bit of a geographical rivalry between the two areas, the two regions. The brethren of one was used by the apostle Paul to prompt the brethren of the other to do better in their giving. But when he tells them about these things and about the attitudes of the Macedonians which I will deal with a little later in our lesson this morning, he uses it to promote the idea that intending to give, intending to be generous was not enough. There in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and verse 11 the apostle Paul says, “Now therefore perform the doing of it, that as there was a readiness to will so also there may be a performance also out of that which you have.” It wasn’t enough to simply say, “We intended to give.” It wasn’t enough to say, “We don’t have a problem with giving.” The apostle Paul says that intentions are fine, but it is time to act. It’s time to perform the doing of that which you have intended to do. The brethren of Jerusalem were starving. They were suffering great distress because of the famine and not having access because they had no political or social standing in the community because they were Christians. They had no ability to fend for themselves and so the apostle Paul dictated that these individuals needed to help their brethren in time of need and not simply to the intent of doing so, but actually performing it.
A lot of individuals in the Lord’s church, all over the world are struggling. There are always problems with people that need to be helped with various medical bills or perhaps they are struggling in some other capacity and they need help. They need a response from individuals that have been blessed and have the capacity to give. They need help to be provided to them. Not in intention only, but in action! It is always the time to act when the work of the Lord is to be done by members of the Lord’s church.
We also find how it is that individuals are to give not only in the concept of doing it and acting and making certain that the giving actually takes place, but also the attitude by which such action is to take place in a giving. There in 2 Corinthians chapter 9 we are told that the apostle Paul says in verse 6, “This I say, he which sow it sparingly shall reap also sparingly and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Therefore in verse 7, “Every man according as he had purposed in his heart so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver.” It is not that we are to give because it is something that is held over by the apostle Paul in his writings or by God from Heaven above commanding that we give and we do it as a chore or a task because it is forced out of us. But rather it is to be an expression of the recognition of the blessings with which we’ve been blessed by our God in Heaven and to share those blessings. There is absolutely nothing that I or you or anyone else has that has not been allowed to us because our God permitted it to be so. If it were contrary to His Will for us to be in this scenario or that, it would be excluded as a possibility for us. Therefore what we have, therefore that with which we’ve been blessed, we as Christians have the responsibility with our brethren and with others when there is need. That is the part of generosity that needs to be emphasized in so many minds is that it is to be done with a cheerful heart for the Lord does love a cheerful giver.
We also have a responsibility as we give to give because God gets the glory, and not simply to alleviate suffering. Now this is difficult for many individuals to understand. They simply think about the physical necessities of an individual and how it is that they are to be alleviated from their suffering, and so we’re going to give and we’re not going to worry about giving God the glory. The responsibility that we have as the church to practice benevolence is one that is imposed upon us as the church, the body of Christ (Ephesians chapter 1 verses 22-23). It is the responsibility that is imposed upon us as the body of Christ to be providing for those in need. In Galatians chapter 6 and verse 10, we read there, “Ad you have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” We have a responsibility as Christians because of our position as Christians to do good unto all men. This is the cornerstone of all benevolence. Benevolence literally means “good acting,” a responsibility that we have to seek out the good of those around us and as much as we possibly can to provide for that good.
Now in a time in which the economy is struggling. In a time in which gasoline prices and food prices and housing prices are rising all around us. At a time when individuals are facing unemployment at extraordinary rates, we find individuals that are continuously needing help. I know many Christians and I know many congregations that help those individuals to the very best of their abilities. There are also, however, individuals that are taking advantage of the situation.
I, myself, here in Springfield was approached by an individual several months ago, and he came to me and told me that he had come from one of the surrounding communities and he brought his wife here to see the doctor. She was sick, and when they had come up here he had not enough money to get gas in order to get home. I took him to a gasoline station and I filled his tank up for him and was happy to do that. I don’t give cash to individuals because you never know what that is going to be used for, but I am happy to fill up a tank or buy a sandwich or provide lodging for a night if that is necessary. But it wasn’t a month later the same individual came up to me again. I wasn’t at that time wearing a coat and tie and he didn’t recognize me. He came up and told me exactly the same story that his wife was ill, and they were here to see the doctor and didn’t have enough gas to get home, and would I be willing to help him with that. Then I reminded him that he had talked to me before just a few weeks earlier and he was embarrassed, but he left right away. It was not six weeks later on the other side of town, with me wearing work clothes because I happened to be working on the farm that day, the same individual came up to me pitching exactly the same story. This time I was quite clear with him. I explained to him that he was stealing, and not just stealing from me as an individual but he was stealing from other individuals who truly need help. But by what he was doing he was jading the attitudes of individuals in this community who are willing to help those in need, but he was taking advantage of that and causing difficulty upon everyone around us.
Now just as we are commanded to provide for those who are truly in need and to practice benevolence as the church, we are also told in 2 Thessalonians chapter 3 and verse 10, “If any will not work neither shall he eat.” We don’t want anybody to be removed from the possibility of being cared for, but we all have a responsibility to care for ourselves as well. It is a two-edged sword, a double-sided coin that we have been given in the church to be responsible for the needs of those around us, but by the same token, if we allow others to take advantage of that generosity well then there is not enough left over for those who truly are in need. So some responsibility has to be shown in the process as well.
How do we have generosity set before us? How do we have that in our hearts? Especially as we continue to grow as a society and people become less and less personal with one another. There was a time in small communities we knew our neighbors and knew everyone around us and if there was a need that had to be filled we knew about it almost immediately after it took place. How do we do that in a modern era? How do we continue to look for ways in which to help one another and to have the proper attitudes to be a giving people? I would submit that it comes down to the attitude that is set before us again by the writings of the apostle Paul to the brethren of Corinth in that same famine era in which the brethren in Jerusalem were suffering so strongly. There in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 beginning in verse 1 where the apostle Paul was writing to the brethren there, he says, “Moreover brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality; For to their power I bear record and beyond their power they were willing of themselves, (excuse me) praying us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”
Here was a congregation again, Macedonia, an impoverished region. The congregation itself comprised of individuals who the apostle Paul was able to describe those individuals as those who were in deep poverty, individuals who did not have enough to provide for themselves and yet they were concerned for providing for those brethren who had even less in Jerusalem. Here in Corinth, the apostle Paul when he was writing to them, he was explaining to individuals who were at the cornerstone of commerce and travel and they had wealth in Corinth. The Corinthian brethren was a congregation that had money, but the Macedonian brethren in their deep poverty were willing to give of themselves. They were willing to sacrifice even when they themselves might have need of being helped by others. The reason why we are told is in verse 5. And this they did. Not as we had hoped. The apostle Paul wasn’t hoping that the Macedonian brethren would extend themselves in this fashion, but he said, “In this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the Will of God.”
You see, if everything I am and everything I have belongs to the Lord, then I don’t have connections and I don’t have the ties to it that I might otherwise have and if I see someone in need I am able to help him. It’s an attitude that begins with me giving the most important thing I have to God, me and my soul and my life, giving it to Him by putting Him first (Matthew chapter 6 and verse 33) by making sure that you can see Jesus living in me because I follow in His footsteps (Galatians chapter 2 and verse 20). Being created in the image of God not conformed to the things of this world and the things that go on around me, but rather being re-established, re-imaged in the image of Christ according to the traditions and the teachings of the scriptures that were told in Romans chapter 12 verses 1-2. You must give of yourself first. You must hear the Word of God, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, be willing to confess in the Son of God before others, repent of our sins and be baptized for the remission of our sins so that we can be added to the church that He built and purchased with His own blood and then live there faithfully, everyday up to and including the very point of our death. If we have given ourselves to Him, then giving of our physical treasures that He has bestowed upon us is no problem at all. Generosity will indeed be found among the Lord’s people.
I thank you so very much for your time this morning.
(SONG # 3 - “Is It For Me Dear Savior?”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. What a glorious time we have had before the throne of God. We invite you to join us every First day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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May we all learn and put into practice the important lesson of God concerning generosity. Let’s all strive to have a great and more compassionate spirit, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Won’t you give God your very best today?