Relevant:The Rewards of Giving

Sermon Summary

This message looks at the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount which dealt with giving. In an example of giving to the poor, Jesus spoke about the motivation for giving and the rewards of giving. Giving is an act of righteousness and should be done because it meets a real need and brings glory to God. There are rewards to giving for the person who gives, but if the person gives only to impress others with their goodness, that's all the reward they will get. However, if a person is more concerned with doing the right thing for the right reason, God will meet all their needs as well as reward them in ways the world never could!

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. While it is not wrong to receive a gift, and it can be a blessing as well as exciting, Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Can you share a time in your life when you gave something to someone and it meant so much to them that it brought great joy to you? Explain.

2. According to Jesus, the motive behind giving is very important. If a person's only reason for giving is based on how they will benefit from the act of giving, then their reward will be extremely limited. What are some of the problems with allowing "self" to be the motive behind giving? You'll find what Jesus said and then what His brother James had to say about this helpful in answering this question.

Mat 6:1  "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Mat 6:2  "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

James 3:13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:14  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
James 3:15  Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
James 3:16  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

3. Giving is an act of righteousness and a trait that every follower of Jesus should have. Jesus didn't say "if you give to the needy" but "when you give to the needy!" When we have a heart to give, God will make a way for us to give even if we don't have the means to give a large amount. God is not looking at the size of our gift, but the size of our heart! Read the following passages and discuss this truth.

2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

2 Cor 9:8  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.
2 Cor 9:9  As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
2 Cor 9:10  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.
2 Cor 9:11  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

4. There are rewards to giving. However, if we are only looking for selfish rewards, we will miss out on some of the greater rewards. What are some of the rewards we will miss if we only think about what's in it for us?

1 Tim 6:17  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Tim 6:18  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Tim 6:19  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

5. Bonus Question!! Pastor Larry mentioned some of the things that Northshore Church has been able to do because of the generosity of our people. Can you think of some of the good things that have been done and continue to be done because our people have a giving heart?


Full Sermon Notes

How true are the words to the song "One Thing"... "I tasted the world, seen more than enough, it's promises fleeting. Of water and wine I emptied the cup and found myself wanting!" Folks the world tells us that life is all about what you get! Jesus had a totally different and radical approach, but sadly, many churches do not teach or reflect what He taught. Most people, when they think of a reward, they think of something they get, and that is somewhat true, but it's way more than that. Let's pray and ask God to teach us the truth of His radical teaching on giving.

Prayer. Father God I ask for You to teach us today by way of Your Precious Holy Spirit! Teach us what it means to be a truly giving people. A people who give of their time, talents, and resources to help reach our community and our world with Your amazing love and with Your principles that could change our world for the better. We need You each and every day to bring light into our darkened world. I yield myself to You so that You can use me as a vessel and a servant of the Most High God! Thank You for hearing this prayer, for it is in the sweet name of Jesus I pray and believe, Amen!

Ok, we're going to jump right in and see what Jesus had to say in His Sermon on the Mount on the subject of giving and rewards. Go ahead and get your Bibles out and turn to the first book of the New Testament. While you're turning there, let me say this. For the next few weeks you'll discover a theme and it's going to be very relevant to every aspect of your life! Ok, let's read Matthew 6:1-4...

Mat 6:1  "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Mat 6:2  "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Mat 6:3  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
Mat 6:4  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

I think, according to Jesus, that not only what you do is important, but why you do what you do! Of course, I may be missing something here. Maybe I just mis-read it. But it sure seemed like Jesus was concerned about the motive behind any act of righteousness. Would you agree? And it is clear that Jesus views giving as an act of righteousness. And there is a reward! So let's look at these three!

The Motive of An Act of Righteousness

Mat 6:1  "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

It is very clear that we are not to do an act of righteousness to impress. We are not to do good to impress other people and God doesn't want us to do good to impress Him! He wants us to do acts of righteousness because they are the right thing to do. Not for what we will gain. Not that we don't benefit from doing the right thing, we do, but that should never be why we do the right thing. Here's one of the reasons self is a bad motivation for doing good: If self has nothing to gain, then self will skip on doing the good. If self has something to loose, then self will skip on doing the good. If the gain is not substantial enough to outweigh the sacrifice then self will not sacrifice and good will not be done. It's kind of a human nature thing.

Of course we are not only talking about material gain. Jesus said "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them." Why did He say "be careful"? Sometimes people will make great sacrifices and do good things for the "glory" it will bring them. It's all about self. Sometimes good things are done for self-glory, but, as Jesus said, that will be the extent of their reward. Jesus used the word careful because selfish pride is very powerful and very sneaky. And when pride becomes the motive, you will pick and choose when you will do acts of righteousness based on the amount of attention it will bring you and that means you may not give help when help is needed because there's nothing in it for you. There have even been people in the past who've gone so far as to do destructive things to create a situation where they can try to be a hero. There are people in jail for such things. So motivation really is important. And if you're doing something outwardly to impress God or to earn His favor, you've forgotten two fundamental truths of Scripture. First...

It's not about your
goodness or greatness!

Eph 2:4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
Eph 2:5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Eph 2:6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
Eph 2:7  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--
Eph 2:9  not by works, so that no one can boast.
Eph 2:10  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So you see, it's not about our greatness or goodness, but our great need for God's goodness to be bestowed on us and through us! God wants us to do good works, but not to impress Him or to win His love. He already loves you, you don't have to earn that, you can't, and when it comes to impressing Him, don't forget this other fundamental truth.

Regardless of what you do on the outside, God knows what's on the inside!

1 Samuel 16:7b "... Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

A man who knew this concept well was Coach John R. Wooden who coached the UCLA Basketball team and won "ten NCAA national championships in a 12 year period, including a record seven in a row." (Wikipedia) He was a devout Christian who lived to be 100 years old. He said this...

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” “The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching.”

C.S. Lewis put it this way...

"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."

What Jesus said will lead us to our second point.

Giving is an Act of Righteousness

Mat 6:2  "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

Did you notice Jesus said "When you give to the needy?" Not if!! God created life and made giving and receiving very important and essential aspects of life! God wants us to have faith in Him, and to share our faith, and to have knowledge of the Bible, and to love others, but He also wants us to have a heart for giving. Giving is an act of righteousness! A spirit of giving is such an important aspect of family life, and it's no different in God's family. Not long after Jesus' death and resurrection persecution, including economic punishment, began to face the Palestinian followers of Christ in Jerusalem. Paul shares with the Corinthians about the need and then shares with them a powerful testimony from the churches of Macedonia. Check it out…

2 Corinthians 8:1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.

Okay, notice, it was God's grace to the Macedonian churches that made it possible for them to do what they did. What did they do?

2 Corinthians 8:2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

They were suffering, but the joy of the Lord was their strength, and though they were in extreme poverty, they were rich in generosity. And listen to what Paul says next...

2 Corinthians 8:3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

Don't rob us of "the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints!"
Did you know the Bible tells us God loves a cheerful giver? I think the Macedonians meet the criteria!! Paul may have expected them to ask for a love offering to be taken up for their own needs, but that's not what happened.

2 Corinthians 8:5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

Their priorities were God first, others second, and God will take care of the rest.  

2 Corinthians 8:6-7 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything —in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Paul wanted them to understand that giving is an act of righteousness, just like faith, and sharing faith and Bible study, and loving others. He goes on to say...

2 Corinthians 8:8-12 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

I love what Paul said in that last verse...

2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

God's not looking at the size of the gift, He's looking for people who have a desire and motivation to be a part of what He's doing and are excited to have the privilege to contribute to something bigger than themselves! Do you ever wonder why we don't harp on money? The reason is that money is not our goal and we truly trust that God will provide what we need to do the ministries of this church! And He has and will continue to do so. Every once in a while I will preach about giving, not so people will give more, or because we look at the ministry needs and go, "Wow, we need more!" Nope! When I preach on giving it's because the concept of giving is a concept that you and I need to understand, and it would be wrong of me not to give you the privilege of this act of righteousness. It would have been wrong for Paul not to give the Church at Corinth the opportunity to give to help the hurting Church at Jerusalem. He would have been robbing them of an awesome privilege to be a part of what God was doing. And by the way, the fact that Paul used the Macedonian Church as an example proves that Jesus wasn't creating some kind of new regulation about giving. He wasn't saying it would be wrong for someone to find out that you give, it is simply wrong for you to do your giving so that you will look good in the eyes of others. Some people think if someone finds out, then they loose their reward. No, it's if you did it so they would find out, then that's all the reward you'll get.

And while my motive for preaching about giving is not to get more, sometimes, I have to be reminded that it's wrong of me not to let you know when there's a need and allow you the blessing of giving to meet that need. Because of my desire to never cross the line of abusing your generosity, I have sometimes been reticent to talk about the needs, and inadvertently, rob you of a blessing. I apologize for that! And that takes me to our last point for today, albeit, a very important point.

The Rewards of Giving

Yes there are rewards to giving. Let's see what Jesus said...

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

So again, Jesus is saying don't sound the trumpet! Don't do what you do to be seen by others. Do the right thing because it's the right thing, not because you will be hailed as a hero! But, here's something to think about. If you do things for the right reason, God will reward you and that might include God using you as an example of doing the right thing for the right reason. In other words, if God decides to use your good deed as an example, don't fight it, it's for His glory.

Reward:
God Gets Glory

1 Peter 5:5b-6...All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

And part of the reward is that God, because He knew your heart was in the right place and you did what you did for the right reason, He may exalt you as an example to others. Don't fight that, rather, give God the glory and thank Him for the blessing. Simple as that! I'm I sure about this? Yes. You have to take all of Jesus' teachings together. They don't contradict they compliment!!

Remember what Jesus said earlier in His Sermon on the Mount. We talked about it a few weeks ago...

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

We don't do good deeds for the purpose of being seen as goody two shoes! But we don't hide our light, we shine that light to give praise to our Father in heaven!! And that is part of the reward of giving. We know when we give for the right reason and good happens, it brings praise to our Father in heaven! That makes my heart happy. Man, I love it when I can make my earthly Dad smile, but if I can make my Heavenly Father smile, that's what I live for!! There's multiple rewards in living a life of giving and some of them are eternal! Check out what Jesus said about this just a few verses later in His Sermon on the Mount...

Reward:
Treasures in Heaven

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Now I don't know what those treasures will be in heaven, but I know they will be awesome. I've got to tell you a little story. The guy that was preaching the night I got saved, was preaching another sermon one day and I thought he had lost His mind. We all thought something was wrong. He said "When I get to heaven I want to have lived a life that gets me lots of rewards. In fact, I want so many that I have to have a big wheel barrow to carry them. In fact if it's a crown, I want it so big and with so many jewels in it that I would still need the wheel barrow." I was thinking, "Well that's it, the preacher's lost his mind!" Then he said, "The reason I want all those rewards is so I can wheel them right up to Jesus and dump them at His feet, fall on my knees and tell everybody that I could not have done one
measly thing if it hadn't been for the grace, mercy and love of my Savior Jesus. To God be all the glory!!"
Well, there's one last reward I want to talk about. Some of you may be thinking, "Okay, this is were he tells us about all of the material blessings God's gonna give us when we give. This is the part I was waiting on! Whoo Who!!"

Reward:
Treasures on Earth

First, a disclaimer, this may not be what you expected! God never promised to meet all of your wants, but He will meet all of your needs, and I can testify that He will sometimes even give you more than you need. 2 Corinthians 9:8-11.

2 Cor 9:8  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.
2 Cor 9:9  As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
2 Cor 9:10  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.
2 Cor 9:11  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. You might be thinking, "He makes me rich so I can be generous? Where's the reward in that?"
It's found in Paul's words to Timothy…

1 Tim 6:17  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Tim 6:18  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Tim 6:19  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Life that is truly life is found when you start receiving more pleasure from allowing God to work through you to help someone else rather than always having the universe revolve around you! It's finding great satisfaction knowing that you put a smile on a little kids face because you supported the buildout of Shore Kids in the back! It's knowing you made the world better because your tithe provided the salary for a staff member who counseled with a couple and a family was saved! It's knowing you helped provide the funds to replace the flooring of a family who not only had flooded, but whose bread winner almost lost his life in a horrible accident, and who is here today with his precious family! It's knowing that you paid for and our volunteers helped build over 50 pre-fab homes in Haiti after the earthquake, and provided the food for the House of Blessing Orphanage for an entire year! It's knowing you helped purchase the sheet rock for a church west of here so they can begin rebuilding from the flood. And next month on the 23rd you will hear from Matt Jones with poverty resolutions in Haiti about the new medical clinic that is being built inspired by the medical teams from Northshore Church who were able to go because of your generosity.
I pray we will continue be a church that discovers as Paul did, the following truth..

Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Let's pray!