When my friend Floyd was a little boy, he was taken to church with his family more Sundays than he could ever count. But for some reason, one of those experiences stands out specially in his mind.. That Sunday, as every Sunday, the six members of the family were stuffed into the cab of the family truck for the trip to church. As they went into the church that day, my friend's father gave him a nickel and a penny to put in the offering - which he vividly remembers doing. He even remembers that he put it in a little brown envelope.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Things You Have To Give."
My friend told me that he was really excited to give that offering - realizing all the time that all he had to give was what his father had given him. Actually, that's all you and I have to give - what our Father in heaven has given us.
That's really clear in our word for today from the Word of God in 2 Corinthians 9, beginning with verse 6. "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously...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...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."
Notice: the things we have - the money, the talents, all our gifts - are "seed to sow." Not seed to eat ourselves or to store in the barn, but to sow into things that matter to God. But even the seed we have to sow is given to us by our Father. And He loves it when, like my friend giving his boyhood offering, we give it cheerfully, enthusiastically.
Now since the only things we have to give are things our Father has given us, there's no excuse for three mistakes we tend to make with the things we have. First, there's no excuse for being proud about what we're giving. As 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks, "What do you have that you did not receive?" Sometimes, those who make major contributions to the work of God, either with their financial gifts or their spiritual gifts, tend to take a little pride in what their giving - tend to even expect special treatment or to be given control. But that makes no sense! You're only giving what your Father placed in your hand!
There's also no excuse for using what your Father gave you for yourself! Can you imagine my friend taking what had been given to him as an offering and going out and spending it on something for himself? It would have been wrong for him - it's wrong for us. And, there's no excuse for holding back on giving generously to God's work on earth - why would my friend have held back on that boyhood offering when his father had given it to him to give? You can even dare to give above and beyond what you can afford, if He moves you to. You can dare to give by faith, not just based on what you can see in your hand. Not just based on what you can afford to give. After all, you can only give what your Father puts in your hand, and what He leads you to give...He will put into your hand.
Here's your Father's great promise - "You will be made rich in every way..." - sounds good, doesn't it? Now listen to the reason why He gives it to you - "so that you can be generous on every occasion"! (2 Corinthians 9:11)