The Christian life is a life of self-sacrifice. We follow the example of “Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5–6, cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9) when we give ourselves to others. We can give generously of our money or resources (Matthew 6:1–4, Luke 12:33-34, 2 Corinthians 9:7) and our time (Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:10).
Many people believe that we don’t have enough margin in our schedule or budget to give generously to others. It is important to know that God does not call us to give comfortably out of our surplus, but to be radically generous and sacrificial. Paul described his own life as being “poor, yet making many rich” (2 Corinthians 6:10) and praised the Philippians for giving in “their extreme poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:1–5). We may not have much, but God is calling all of us to deny ourselves in order to better serve others.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is, in some ways, a big “Thank You” letter, expressing gratitude for that church’s support of his ministry. They gave with radical generosity to Paul and God promised to give with radical generosity to them: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). This same promise is available to you in Christ Jesus; if you give your time and money to others, God will provide everything you need.
The center of the Christian worldview is the kindness and mercy of God, which is seen supremely in the work of Christ (Exodus 34:6–7, 1 Corinthians 2:2), so every session will include a reminder of how this topic points us to God’s unfailing kindness.
We are free to give generously, because God has given us something better to live for than “the uncertainty of riches” (1 Timothy 6:17). By giving, we are “storing up treasure” and “tak[ing] hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 1:19). God’s invitation to give yourself away is an invitation to truly live.
8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack….” 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Choose one of the three areas in the pre-reading (The Poor, the Church, the Lost) that you want to give more generously to. Then, make a specific plan to give generously this week.
I will _____________
Thank God for giving you so many blessings so that you can give to bless others.