This is part four of the “Giving THANKS” sermon series that I am preaching on Sunday evenings at the Deer Run Church of Christ. So far we have looked at messages of “Give TIME”, “Give HONOR” and “Give ACTS”. The fourth message was, “Give NOW!”.
God gave me the framework for this sermon series on the drive to work a few weeks ago and now He is giving me the opportunity to preach it! Paul writes in second Thessalonians 4:16-18, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We are never told to be thankful for all circumstances, but we are told to be thankful in all circumstances. As we approach a season of Thanksgiving followed by the Christmas holiday, many people turn to thoughts of thankfulness and giving. This series will give you some great tips on being thankful and some great gift ideas as you give thanks not only to God, but also to the people in your life!
It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I read this week of a rewording of that which said hell itself is paved with good intentions! When it comes to thankfulness, good intentions are often a major enemy to thanks actually being expressed. That is why it is so important when it comes to giving thanks to Give NOW! Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 3:27-28, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow’ — when you now have it with you.”
We begin our approach to give NOW by giving Necessities! James says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” God says that if you see a brother or sister in need of the basic necessities of life and you have the means to help, then you need to give now. How often do we make excuses for our lack of action by arguing about the definition of need and necessity? Our logic, while not often stated as such, often goes, “If I want it, it is a need. If “they” want it, “they” are just being selfish.” While we debate and argue and rationalize, real needs of real people go unmet while God continues to call us to give necessities and give now!
Before we get to wrapped up trying to figure out the legal definition of necessities, our next step to give NOW is to give what we “ought to”! James also says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Ouch! How long is your list of “ought to”s? Are there people of whom you’ve said, “I ought to call them.”, “I ought to visit.”, “I ought to thank.”, “I ought to help.”, or “I ought to . . . “? Again, we often go to great lengths to try to explain to ourself why we haven’t, but how often is God’s Spirit prompting you to just give now what you ought to?
So, how do we approach decisions regarding giving necessities and giving what we ought to? We look to God and we give Wisdom NOW! James asks the question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?”. The answer is given not by naming names but by giving a description of what the actions of a wise and understanding person would look like. God says that a wise and understanding person is one who acts as such — one who gives wisdom through his deeds. In contrast to “earthly wisdom”, God describes the wisdom we ought to be seeking, and giving, as “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” He says when we give that kind of wisdom, we sow in preparation for a harvest of righteousness. If you are a child of God, His Spirit lives within you and gives you this wisdom that comes from above! Are you sowing seeds of righteousness as you give wisdom now?
I pray that you and I are living lives that give NOW to God and to others! I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give now through our giving of Necessities, Ought tos, and Wisdom!