GIVE: God Gave Volitionally
December 16, 2012 Series: GIVE | He Gave; We Give
Topic: New Testament Passage: 1 John 4:19–4:19
Intro: God gave…so we give
1John 4.19 We love because he first loved us. (We give because he first gave to us). This is the third week of our Advent series. This series is not titled TITHE, DOUBLE HONOR, or WHAT WOULD JESUS SPEND; because this is not a series designed to make up a budget deficit, ensure blessing for a pastor, or launch a fund-raising campaign to build the “Crystal Cathedral” of Snohomish County. The series is titled GIVE. We believe that good giving, whether that is time, treasure, or talent, begins with good theology. In other words, this series is not about US or OUR giving, it is about God and how he gave to us. This is an important series because MANY of us live the very opposite of what Jesus taught—believing it is better to receive not give. Moreover, FEW of us will admit we are greedy, materialistic, or wealthy—we’re blind to it. This is a timely series because we live in a consumeristic culture at the most consumeristic time of the year—many of us will spend more money and accumulate more stuff for this one holiday, than we will have given ALL YEAR to Jesus, whose birth it celebrates. AND this is a dangerous series, because it has the potential to cause you to hate me or hate your sin—what we preach about giving can easily be misunderstood, dismissed, or deflected onto someone else.
Good giving does not begin with good people—there are none. Good giving begins with good theology. And good theology not only reveals a GOOD GRACIOUS GOD who GIVES, but also a God who gave in specific ways to motivate and guide us in how we give. God gave generously, so we sacrifice. God gave intentionally, so we plan. God gave volitionally, so we love.
Why do men give? = GUILT / FEAR / PRIDE
Giving of our time, talent, and treasure is supposed to be OUR response to the person and work of Jesus. And if someone (IF YOU) has to be to be convinced, persuaded, or otherwise forced into giving—you do not understand or believe the grace of God in Christ Jesus. There are a lot of reasons people use for not giving to the church or to people in need: I can’t afford it. I will be taken advantage of. I don’t like it. They don’t deserve it. They will waste it. They won’t appreciate it. If you struggle with giving, not practically but spiritually (ITS NOT YOUR DESIRE), there is no sense in talking to you about how you God expects you give to your church or to your community. You might believe God is your Creator, but He is not your Father. You find your identity in this world, and you love it; and you do not find your identity in Jesus and you do not love Him. If giving is undesirable, you are probably not a disciple of Jesus; you have not put your faith in Him to save you, nor trusted him to rule your life. The last thing I want to do is talk you into giving Him any or more of your time, your talent, or your treasure if it is not your heart’s desire to do so.
And for those of you who don’t love Jesus (EVEN IF YOU SAY YOU DO), but are giving, you should probably stop. Of course, you wouldn’t be the first person to give for the wrong reasons. Have you ever considered all of the wrong reasons for giving? Some give out of guilt. People feel bad for how they live and their giving is like a penance for living selfishly most of the time. This guilt can come from externally from bad pastors, others times it comes internally from a good God who wants you to understand the debt you cannot afford to pay (Psalm 49.7-9). Some give out of fear. Not only are they afraid of what men think; they believe that if they don’t give, God will reject them. Mark 8.37 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? God isn’t interested in your money, and neither are we. He wants you give your heart. Some give out of greed. Many give in order to receive something greater in return. I give to feel good about myself. I give to be loved by others. I give to be blessed by God. I give more to God in pursuit of more for me in this life. Apart from God, men give for the wrong reasons.
Why does God give? = LOVE
Right giving begins with right theology. As image bearers of God, we are commanded and empowered give like God. I stated in my first sermon, God was the first giver. He has given all of us much—believer and unbeliever. But why does God give? Why did God create any of this? We must never forget that our triune God is holy and perfect in every way imaginable. Creation does not complete him, he is complete without us. He needs nothing. So…God does not give out of guilt, fear, obligation, or in effort to obtain something that he doesn’t already have. God gives volitionally, meaning, apart from any external influence God CHOOSES to give to those who are undeserving, ungrateful, and ungodly. When God gives, it is always primarily to display the greatness of His name. His giving proclaims that he is, by nature, perfectly loving. 1John 4.16 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. What does it mean to say GOD IS LOVE? Our world is full of a lot of descriptions for “love””—some good, some bad, some even Biblical and some biblical sounding. But all of them attempt define the LOVE OF MEN, and the love of mankind is infected by sin. Apart from God, the love of men is always imperfect and perverted, falling short of God’s design.
The LOVE of GOD, as revealed in Scripture, is infinitely (lit.) more than a sentimental feeling, active affection, or even faithful commitment. Theologically, God’s Love means that God eternally gives of himself to others. This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others (Taken from Grudem). Giving and love go together. We see what this looks like through the clearest expression of this attribute of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God the Father sent Jesus to the world because of love. John 3.16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”
And Jesus knew he was sent because God the Father loved Him and gave Him everything. John 3.35 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
All that Jesus did, all that Jesus gave—including his service and his life—was motivated by a love for God. John 14.3131 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father..
And before Jesus went to the cross, to give his life for those he loved, he told us that we are to imitate this kind of love, summarizing all that God commands us by saying in Matthew 22: 37 … “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Giving and Loving
Our giving to God, therefore, is intimately connected with the love of God. So trying to convince someone that they should give is like trying to convince someone that they should love. Before we know the love of God, we may give of ourselves to others—but our motivation will always be self-centered/motivated. But when we experience the love of God, the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, the blessing of God, EVERYTHING changes. Those who have responded to the love of Jesus cannot help but have their motivations radically transformed—why we give, what we give, and even to whom we give turns from self-motivation, and becomes driven by the love of Jesus, a love for Jesus, a love like Jesus, and a love to be with Jesus.
#1 Our giving is motivated by the love of Jesus. 2Corinthains 5.14-15
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Our giving is motivated by the love OF Jesus. When we put our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, then the love OF Christ begins to control us. There is a difference between believing Jesus and following Jesus. Anyone can believe in Jesus—even demons. Following Jesus means the governing force in your life is the love Jesus has for it. It holds you, restrains you, compels you, and holds your life together. Our desire to give, therefore, is generated by the love of Jesus in us. And if the desire to give is not there, then it is because the love of SELF controls you. Jesus died and, when you believe that sinless Jesus died the death your sins deserved, the self-centered, self-absorbed, self-reliant, self-glorifying person that was your old life DIES with him. And then through faith, you rise with Jesus from the dead a new person devoted to no longer living for yourself, but for Jesus who loves you. We give because we are compelled to give. Our giving is motivated by the love of Jesus.
#2 Giving is motivated by a love for Jesus. – Philippians 3.6-8
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Our giving is motivated by the love FOR Jesus. Once we accept Jesus love, we see the world entirely differently. As they hymn, “TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS” says: As we turn our eyes upon Jesus, as we look full in his wonderful face, the THINGS of this earth grow strangely dim. Before Christ, we didn’t give because we were afraid of losing everything. But, our hearts are changed and now we do all things out of a LOVE for Jesus. It is refreshing to see new believers in Christ in the same way that it is refreshing to see new love in couples. I remember when Caylin and I were first dating. I didn’t have to think about being Romantic. In fact, I suffered the loss of many things so that I could gain Caylin—the loss of money, loss of sleep, loss of gas, loss of friendship. Rubbish. I willingly gave up anything because everything paled in comparison to getting THIS girl Have you ever felt like that about Jesus? Our giving is motivated by the love FOR Jesus.
#3 Giving is motivated by a love for people as Jesus – John 13.34-35
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our giving is motivated by a love for the people of Jesus. Jesus gave this command on the night he was betrayed and arrested. At what was to be the last dinner with his disciples, the God-man, the creator of all things, Jesus Christ began by washing to feet of his disciples. He humbled himself, washing the feet of men he had chosen, men he had taught, men he had created, giving his service to show us what love looked like. And then, he instructs his disciples to love one another the same way. In fact, he says that the distinguishing characteristic of his disciples will be a love for one another—the people of God, the church. We DO NOT give our time, money, or stuff because it is sinful to have or enjoy our time, money, or stuff. Jesus is not some cosmic kill joy who doesn’t want us to enjoy the good gifts he has given us. WE GIVE because, as disciples, we are overwhelmed with a love for others. Our desire to enjoy is trumped by our desire to bless. We give not because we want to go without, but because we don’t want others to go without—we want to bless. Having been given the mind of Christ, consider others more needy, more deserving, more important than ourselves. Our giving is motivated to love for people as Jesus.
#4 Giving is motivated by a love of being with Jesus. – Philippians 3.17-21
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Finally, our giving is motivated by a love of being with Jesus. Not only is our view of the stuff in this world changed, our view of the nature of this world entirely is changed. We must never forget, that this is not our home. The Bible calls us refuges, exiles, and sojourners on earth. We are ambassadors in a foreign land. We are missionaries in the field. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. This should impact how we give. I believe John Piper says it best:
“IFwe are refugees and exiles on earth (1Peter 2.11), and if our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3.20), and if nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8.35), and if his steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63.3), and if all hardship is working for us an eternal weight of glory (2Cor 4.17)…THEN
Then we will give to the winds our fears and “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6.33). We will count everything as rubbish in comparison with Christ (Phillippians 3.7-8). We will ‘joyfully accept the plundering of our property; for the sake of unpopular acts of mercy (Hebrews 10.34). We will choose “rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin,” and we will count “the reproach of Christ great wealth than the treasures of Egypt.” .
If we LIVE with an eternal perspective, we will GIVE with an eternal perspective. Our giving is motivated by a love of being with Jesus.
Conclusion: Ephesians 3.14-21
Right giving begins with right theology. God gave volitionally, meaning, God willing chooses to give because He loves. May our giving be motivated by that same love. Know that, even if we were not meeting budget or need to raise money for some ministry, the prayer of our elders would not be that you would give more or spend less. Quite simply, our prayer would be that you would know the love of Jesus Christ. Only then will your giving will be driven by the love of Jesus, a love for Jesus, and a love like Jesus as you wait to be with Him. We will close with the prayer of the Apostle Paul : 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
1John 4.19 We love because he first loved us. (We give because he first gave to us)