Giving for the Kingdom: 7th June
Small group notes
Giving for the Kingdom
Acts 4:32 – 5:11
Two significant phrases leap out of this cameo picture of how the first Christians practiced stewardship: “MUCH GRACE” 4:33 and “GREAT FEAR” 5:11
1. When the Christian community gave to each other out of pure motives, the ability of the church to spread the gospel was enhanced. It is those pure motives that others see. Sometimes it’s the recipient of such love who comes to seek God after such an act. cf John 13:35, our motto text for 2009 and Matthew 5:16
“How do you sense the wider community of Ashtead feels about the Christian community of Ashtead?”
“In what ways could our shared lifestyle be a more effective witness in our community?
2. When the Christian community gave to one another they were expressing a genuine care for one another. All people have a need to be cared for, and people will often respond positively to those who demonstrate to them that they care. This mutual love drew the fellowship together in unity, as a result God’s power and grace overflowed. cf Psalm 133
“When have you witnessed God’s grace flowing as a result of an act of generosity?”
“What effect did it have on you and others you know?”
3. Willingness to give is not enough. We must act. Failure to act reveals a true unwillingness to do so, exposing the sin that really controls the decision. If we ever state something like "I am willing but I can’t", we are betraying a heart attitude towards God that is unworthy of his generosity towards us. cf 2 Corinthians 8:9 & 9:11
John Wesley said: “When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.” He believed with increased income, the Christian’s standard of giving (not standard of living) should rise. He lived by three principles:
• Gain all you can. Wesley felt money was good, as long as Christians didn’t damage their souls, minds or bodies to pursue it. “In the hands of God’s children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked …”
• Save all you can. Wesley urged his hearers not to spend money merely to gratify the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eye, or the pride of life. he pointed out that when people spend money on things they do not really need, they want more things.
• Give all you can. All of the Christian’s money belongs to God. Believers must use 100% of their income as God directs. He lists 4 scriptural priorities: 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 6:8; Romans 13:8 & Galatians 6:10
“Which of Wesley’s guidelines do you find most helpful? Which do you struggle with? Which do you feel the people in our church need most help with, and how can we provide that?”
4. We must be careful to maintain unselfish motives in our giving. Though it is unlikely that we would suffer the fate of Ananias and Sapphira by presenting an unworthy gift, we would certainly lose the joy and peace that comes from a pure heart. “It is a testimony to what the church has become when one considers that if God were to strike dead all members who gave from selfish motives, a massacre would take place!” This is not God’s purpose.
“If we all learn from the experience of Ananias and Sapphira, their deaths have even more meaning than their lives. Why?”
cf 2 Corinthians 9:7,8
5. When we give generously for the growth of God’s Kingdom, we find that their will be a myriad of other opportunities for ministry that will result. The lost will see God’s love in action; relationships can be built that would otherwise not exist; relationships that will bless both the giver and the receiver. cf 2 Corinthians 9:12-15 & Malachi 3:6-18
“Share together ways in which you feel God’s Kingdom could grow even more through the generosity of God’s people in our Christian community.”