After living most of our lives in a major metropolitan area, we are enjoying some of the benefits now of living near one of America's "top 100" small towns. And there's a real feeling of community around here. One of the times you really feel it is during holiday parades. We've got this classic town square with the county courthouse in the middle, a bandstand, and stores all around the square. So we love to take our grandson and get a front row spot to see all the bands and floats and decorated vehicles as they move around the square in a parade. Of course, the part all the kids - including this kid - like the most is when the people on those floats or in those vehicles start throwing handfuls of candy all over the place. They always seem to have plenty, and to throw out plenty, so plenty of children can walk away with plenty of goodies in their pockets!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Throwing Out Goodies."
Those folks tossing goodies all over the place have given me a mental picture of what I'm supposed to be doing all day long as a follower of Jesus Christ - I'm supposed to be throwing spiritual and emotional goodies out everywhere I go, to everyone I'm with. In the words of Jesus as He prepares His disciples to go out and represent Him - "Freely you have received; freely give" (Matthew 10:8).
In our word for today from the Word of God, Paul describes us as those who should be giving extravagantly to the people around us. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, he lays out this principle: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." So if you've not been receiving much encouragement, it may be because you haven't been giving much encouragement. If you haven't been receiving financially, maybe it's because you haven't been giving financially. If you haven't been getting much help, it could be because you haven't been giving much help.
Paul goes on to say that "God loves a cheerful giver." The Greek word here for cheerful is the word we get our word "hilarious" from. God loves people who give hilariously. I'm seeing those happy people on those parade floats generously tossing out their goodies. Now how can you afford to keep giving and giving? 2 Corinthians 9:8 - "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." You can keep giving out to other people because God is always going to give you back more than you gave out. You shovel out, God shovels in, and God has a much bigger shovel.
And what are we giving out ultimately? Grace. Undeserved favor - just like we've received from God. Grace receivers are supposed to become grace givers! Which means you don't treat people as they've treated you or how they deserve to be treated - is that what God did with you? You treat them the way Jesus has treated you! Extravagant grace. Like the people on those parade floats, you are wildly, indiscriminately throwing out grace - forgiving, overlooking offenses, encouraging, being patient with people, being tender with them.
Those who have experienced the amazing grace of God on a daily basis give that grace to everyone around them - you're generous with your time, with your money, with your listening, with your mercy, with your forgiveness. And chances are - right now in your personal world - there's someone desperately in need of some grace from you - maybe someone you've been withholding it from. How can you - after how God has treated you?
Each new morning, get another bag of grace from your loving Savior. And experience the joy of showering people with grace goodies everywhere you go.