This is the sixth and final part 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”, “Give ACTS”, “Give NOW!”, and “Give What You KNOW”. The final sermon of the series was, “Give SELF!”.
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!
As we wrap up this series on giving thanks, we finish with the very core of our ability to give true thanks, giving self! When we give Time, Honor, Acts, Notice, and what we Know, we do so with integrity when we give them as a part of our self.
We give thanks when we give Sacrificially! David understood this important concept when he stated he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing. How much we are willing to sacrifice for something, or someone, is a pretty good indication of the value we place on the item or that relationship. True thanks are given when we are willing to set aside, or give, something of value or importance to us for the benefit of the recipient of our thanks.
We give thanks when we give Extra! While at first it may seem like the same thing, giving extra does not necessarily mean we need to sacrifice anything. When I think of giving extra, I think of giving more than is requested or needed. Peter and John did this as they were passing by a lame man. The man requested help — the only help he could imagine was money to get him through another day so this is what he was seeking. Yet Peter and John gave extra — they gave the man the gift of healing through the name of Jesus Christ! We give thanks when we live with a “and then some” attitude — going above and beyond to not only give what is requested but to look for the real need and give the extra.
We give thanks when we give Last! Are you a person who always has to have the last word? Can you imagine how things could change if everyone lived with that same drive to be the last to give? So often we give to people in ways that help maintain the status quo, keeping us even. Jesus says that if we give to people based on their ability to give back, we are no better than those of the world that are not in relationship with Him. When we seek to give last, we seek to give in ways that cannot be repaid.
We give thanks when we give First! While this sounds like a contradiction to the previous point, we must also give first! The ultimate example of this is the fact that we know what love is because God first loved us! We also learn that in the matter of giving self, the Macedonians exceeded Paul’s expectations as they gave themselves first fully to God. When we start out by giving ourself fully to God then the rest of our giving catapults to a new level. The Macedonians could give generously out of their extreme poverty and hardship because everything they were giving was not their’s, but God’s. When we first give ourself fully to God, we are able to give thanks to others using all of God’s resources that He has allowed us to be stewards of because it is then that we recognize that we can give only because He first gave to us.
I pray that you and I are living lives that give SELF to God and then to others! I pray that our thanks is expressed as we give self through giving of Sacrificially, Extra, Last, and First!