Giving Joyfully and Cheerfully
In this gratitude and generosity sermon, we recall a thankful heart is a cheerful heart; it always gives generously and cheerfully.
A Hallmark of the Contented Life
Philippians 4:12–13 ESV
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
As we come to the end of this short series on the Contented Life, in this gratitude and generosity sermon, we’re going to remind ourselves that one of the hallmarks of the contented life, a life we lead with a thankful heart, is generosity. When we are truly grateful for all that God gives us day by day, then that gratitude moves us to give freely to those around us. When we understand what God has given us, not just the stuff in our lives, the things he gives us, but when we understand that God gave his one and only Son for us to forgive us and to heal the relationship between God and humanity, then this moves us to acts of thanksgiving, to a greater sense of contentment in our lives and this moves us to greater love and greater generosity.
The fellowship offering
11 ‘“These are the regulations for the fellowship offering anyone may present to the Lord:
12 ‘“If they offer it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank-offering they are to offer thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with oil, and thick loaves of the finest flour well-kneaded and with oil mixed in. 13 Along with their fellowship offering of thanksgiving they are to present an offering with thick loaves of bread made with yeast. 14 They are to bring one of each kind as an offering, a contribution to the Lord; it belongs to the priest who splashes the blood of the fellowship offering against the altar. 15 The meat of their fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; they must leave none of it till morning.
Gratitude is Celebrating God
Psalm 66:13–16 ESV
I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
Our passage describes the rules the Israelites were to follow around thanksgiving offerings. These sacrificial offerings were to be made in recognition of the fact that the Lord had provided for the needs of the one giving the offering. It was presented to God out of gratitude for his goodness, probably as a joyful response to the worshipper’s prayer. And these rules provide a serious, correct practice of costly sacrifice and verbal testimony to God’s goodness to the one making the offering. The Hebrew word for thanksgiving comes from the Hebrew word to confess or to declare. They are closely linked.
Celebrating God Leads to Generosity
Leviticus 7:15 ESV
And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.
So these are very special rules. Unlike a freewill offering a thanksgiving offering was to be eaten on the same day as it was offered. Think about that for a moment. First of all, we are talking about a whole animal here. As Psalm 66 suggests, that could be a ram, a bull or goat. Whichever one of those it is, that’s a whole lot of meat! We’re not talking about your Sunday joint here, however many you had around the table today! A whole animal. And a whole animal along with thick loaves of bread. This is more food than the worshipper could eat in one day. So because of the rules there’s only one thing they could do: be generous. God set up an opportunity for a worshipper, someone making an offering to him in response to his generosity, to generously share his blessings and to testify to his goodness. These thanksgiving offerings were a joyful, communal meal, involving the worshipper, their family, the priests, the Levites and even the poor of the village. God’s generosity led to the worshipper’s gratitude which created generosity in his heart, and which no doubt inspired gratitude and generosity in the hearts of those that received his generosity.
Practice Gratitude and Generosity to be Contented
I asked God for all things, that I might enjoy life. God gave life, that I might enjoy all things. (Anon.)
As we come towards the end of this gratitude and generosity sermon, let's ask ourselves: How do we remember all that God gives us? How do we practice gratitude?
God’s Response to our Generosity
2 Corinthians 9:8 The Living Bible
God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.
And the amazing thing about practising gratitude and generosity? God’s promise is that he will give us everything we need and plenty more left over so we’ll have enough to share with those around us. Isn’t that amazing? If we’re willing to be a blessing, then he will pour out his blessings on us and on others through us. Now that sounds like the perfect recipe for The Contented Life.
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