Giving That Feels Good
By: Ben Fronczek
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (Click on verse to read)
Opening Story: The Giving Tree by: Shel Siverstein
Once there was a tree and she love a little boy. And almost everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into a crown and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat her apples. And they would play hide-and-go- seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. But time went by and the boy grew older and the tree was often left alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches, eat some apples, play in my shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play,” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “I have not money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up in the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time…. And the tree was sad.
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” I want a house to keep me warm.” He said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
“I have no house,” said the tree, “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches to help build a house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy.
The boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come boy,” she whispered, “come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“I have no boat but you can cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy… but not really.
And after a long time the boy came back again. “I am sorry boy,” said the tree,“I have nothing left to give you…my apples are gone.”
“My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You cannot swing from them.”
“I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone,” said the tree, “you cannot climb…”
“I am too tired to climb,” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry.”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest.”
And the boy did. And the tree was happy. (THE END)
The lesson I have for you today is entitles, “GIVING THAT FEELS GOOD.” Giving that feels good is much different than giving that doesn’t feel good.
Being the time of year when we think most about giving gifts, I would like to consider a few different attitudes or things that motivate us to give.
As a Christian I believe it is important to have a healthy positive attitude toward giving, but that’s not always the case…..
i) Some giving is generated by feelings of guilt. There is no way to know how much money has been poured out over the years because feeling guilt prompted us to do so.
In our reading from 2 Cor. 9, the Apostle Paul wrote that,
“each of you must give as you have made up in your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God love a cheerful giver.”
Even though giving prompted by guilt can provide nice gifts or even funding for many good causes, it is not the kind of giving that God is please with. Nor is it the kind of giving we are looking for here in this church as you make your contributions each week. Why? Because
#1) It is unbiblical.
#2) It bring no joy when you give out of guilt.
#3) Giving out of guilt does not generate a proper or healthy Christian attitude in members.
In many ways it is counterproductive creating negative feelings like sadness, doubt, sometimes even anger when we are guilt-ed into giving.
ii) Some giving can come or grow out of sense of responsibility. This may be referred to as “ought to giving.” Over and over the Bible instructs the people of God to be generous givers. In 2 Cor. 8:7 Paul instructs his readers to “excel” in their giving. And so there is no doubt that we have a Biblical responsibility to be generous givers and to take care of others.
Frankly I think many people need to wake up to this Biblical mandate. You may have heard of the “20-80 rule.” The “20-80 rule” refers to studies on congregational giving stating that 20% of the church membership gives 80% of the funds, 30% gives 20%, and 50% give nothing at all. This is not true of all congregations, but this is a surveyed average. What is seen in our churches can also be seen in society in general. My wife works for H&R Block and prepares income taxes. As she fills out tax forms for individuals she is shocked how many make absolutely no charitable contributions at all.
Even though this kind of giving (‘ought to giving,’) is better than ‘guilt-driven giving,’ this kind of giving often lacks the joy that God desires for us. Giving that is motivated by a sense of responsibility is not sinful or evil, but isn’t always giving that feels good; and God wants you to feel good about your giving! He wants you to be a ‘cheerful giver.’
iii. Another thing that may prompt us to give is ‘giving that come when we see a need and the desire to help with that need.’ This is more of the “want to” kind of giving. In 2 Cor. 8 & 9, Paul makes it clear that God wants us to respond to needs of others. In that context, the Christians in Jerusalem were experiencing hardships and Paul asked his readers to respond to their need. Sometimes our church is made aware of a special need, and we talk about helping, and many respond. We understand the need and ‘want to’ help. I believe when we give because it’s something we want to do we begin to feel joy and good about giving.
iv. And then there is giving and the spirit of giving that grows out of feeling blessed and feeling abundantly thankful to God. It is the ‘can’t help it kind of giving.’ It’s when we want to give because we feel so blessed and so grateful our self. It’s like our cup of blessing has been filled to the brim and then pours it out onto others. It’s when and where the more we recognize, see, and experience God’s blessings being poured out on us the more we can’t help but want to give more our self.
Listed to what Paul wrote about people of Macedonia, a people who despite their own afflictions needed to give back in return.
In 2 Cor. 8 Paul wrote,
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing …”
This is an example of the, ‘Can’t help it kind of Giving.’
Here within this verse we also see one of the primary reasons why they could be so generous, and why many times we fall short. He said, They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then it was just natural to give to others.
I’m not so sure we can fully understand God, or fully appreciate the prompting of His Spirit until we first give our self to Him. When the Macedonian church heard about the need of their brethren in Jerusalem their hearts welled up with the love of God and they just had to help despite their own poverty.
First and foremost God wants our hearts, not our money. If we are going to find peace and joy that is promised to believers, we must first give our self and our heart to the Lord. And if we are His, everything we own is His including our very life.
And when we reach that point in our walk with Him we will become a conduit for His blessings to others; He will use us to bless others with blessings that He pours out on us.
In 2 Cor. 9:11 Paul wrote;
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
In the story of The Giving Tree, she found peace and joy as she gave to the boy. Why? Because her giving was motivated by her love. Because of that love she was able to give every part of herself. God did the same for us. He gave the best gift He could ever give us over 2000 years ago –His one and only Son. Why? Because He loves us that much and it pleased Him to do so.
I encourage you to recognize how richly you are blessed by God. As you give more and more of yourself to Him you will find your heart and motivation for doing things will become less about self. I challenge you to purposely find a way to give something away everyday; a word of encouragement, a complement, a note, a phone call, maybe even a gift or money. If you do believe a feeling of enthusiasm and joy will grow in you as you give. You will just have to share and give because you feel so blessed. This will please and Glorify our Heavenly Father, and you find peace you like The Giving Tree, you will be happy.