Practising Thankfulness – 23/04/2023

Luke 17:11-19 & 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Luke 17:11-19,

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”


2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
              their righteousness endures for ever.’[a]

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. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

It seems easy to be thankful today, thanks to all this display of the many good things we share from the good hands of God.

I like it when I am thankful. Somehow, there is a peace to it. When you see great beauty or receive some great gift from someone or achieve a really satisfying thing or receive an encouraging affirming word from someone or know that you have avoided a major disaster in your life, there is a thankfulness, and it is enjoyable.

And thankfulness has its effect: When I am full of thanks to someone or to God, or both, I am more open, more caring, more hopeful.

Problem is I am so often not thankful. People do not always do or say good things. Things are not always beautiful. Sometimes I fail miserably. Sometime tragedy strikes.

So often I am worried, fearful, anxious, concerned or even a bit greedy, or just plain distracted by a million things.

I can see that I easily be one of the nine people healed and restored by Jesus who don’t bother to come back and say thanks.

But, nevertheless, when you hear these and many other words in Scripture, thankfulness is everywhere.

In the early Christian community that sprang into existence after the Resurrection, thankfulness was there, and it had its immediate effect: it bred the art of generosity.

Right from the day of Pentecost the joy of being filled with the Spirit and hearing that first gospel proclamation by Peter immediately led to thankfulness to God.

That thankfulness to God produced a generosity among people. In that first fledgling church in Jerusalem, we hear of income redistribution to the vulnerable in the local community by the able in community.

Makes sense. If you hear the news that everything you have: the very air in your lungs and blood in your veins is a gift from the ‘giver of all good gifts’ (James 1:17), including even the giving of his own Son as a sacrifice for all your brokenness, lack of awareness and thanklessness, and while you were still his enemy I might add, then thankfulness surely comes.

This thankfulness among God’s people bred this ongoing generosity. We see it here in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian community.

Paul speaks of a general church-wide appeal for the Jerusalem Christians who were at this later time suffering under drought, famine and persecution. Paul called on the Corinthians and other local communities across the Mediterranean region to give; specifically, their money; to ‘practice thankfulness’ in generous giving.

It is insightful as to how Paul encourages generosity.

Paul does not demand set amounts or puts ‘the guilts’ on anyone. He is like Jesus with those ten lepers. Jesus did not demand they come back and thank him. They either did or they did not. One did.

Surely Paul knew that if you try and guilt people into being generous, they will resent it and you. They will be under compulsion; give because ‘I have to’. Giving won’t be freeing. It will be done with all the reluctance in the world, and usually on a minimalistic way – “give the bare minimum to keep him off your back” or just to ‘be seen giving’ to keep your name up.

So, there is no ‘guilting’ or specific rulings about what we give for the Lord’s work in this local church. Like the ten healed people, you either give or you don’t. But the encouragement is to be the one, not the nine.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

But why and how? Some people know and more and more don’t. Not everyone just somehow magically knows this.

Why practice thankfulness by being generous with your time, your talents and your treasure?

  1. Because mission costs money, and,
  2. Because people need care.
  3. But even more, because,

…. God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

and because;

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

We can give free from guilt or self-interest because we will always have enough, and because it will always count for something in God’s mission. Even more, generosity will have its good effect: thanks to God, or at least recognition of his goodness.

And giving expands. Giving, Paul says, is ‘sowing’. So, giving is like sowing seeds. When you practice generosity, it does not stop at the giving. It goes on. It grows and produces more than just the generous act.

Like a row of vines, or a paddock of wheat, when we give generously of ourselves and our resources, we sow something that grows.

And like tending that row or paddock, generous giving is the way relationships grow – between you and the Lord and you and others. It fosters trust between us.

See, to sow you have to expend your supply of seed and prepare that ground and get that fertiliser in the ground before you have anything to show for it. You have to trust that the rain will come, the sun will shine, and the chemicals will work!

Giving is an act of trust; an act of faith in the Lord. Generosity is trust and trust is what grows relationships.

Like tending a plant, we people of the New Creation sow without seeing or even needing to see anything much in return because we trust that we will have enough and everything counts and grows in God’s economy of grace.

We can even risk having our gifts squandered. It is better than being anxious and calculating and only giving to what who we believe to ‘deserving’ of OUR gifts. The gifts are not OUR gifts anyway! We are not ‘deserving’ either! But we have been gifted beyond measure!

Our culture and our church have changed so much. I don’t know if you were ever taught much about the art of generous giving of money?

I know some of you have. The older generation certainly have been. They have always given in a generous free regular planned way.

I was not taught anything about this when young. But I learnt it as I observed Christians in my teenage and young adult years in our church. I watched my sister and brother-in-law and their family and church life. I watched Leanne’s parents in their family and church life. I listened to other Christians of other denominations. I read stuff on giving. I listened at church meetings…..

Sure, when I was a student, I had no money. I gave time and effort instead, and a little bit of money to my local church community.

Leanne and I were taught to decide in our heart what we could regularly give and give it…regularly. We did this when we still did not have much money and four kids. It was just the way we were taught to give money to the Lord’s church; and to give our first-fruits’, not our ‘left-overs’.

We were also taught to give time and effort and use whatever spiritual and other gifts God gave us for his mission in his church. We did that too.

So, for the encouragement of thankfulness and it’s resulting generosity in our church, I would say, do what Paul says here;

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The other thing we have learnt so far about giving to the Lord’s church mission is this:

God says we will always be blessed to have enough to share. He does not seem to ask you for what you have not got or will soon have.

So, practicing generous regular planned giving  goes in this order;

  1. Saving,
  2. Giving
  3. Spending

We save money. This is the first priority because the Lord does not usually ask you to give what you have not got or that he has not first given.

Then you give. You decide in your heart what you can give in your circumstances. The amount is not the main thing, it is the heart, the joy, the thankfulness, the trust in the Lord’s provision for you too.

And you simply give it in a regular planned way so that our church mission is supported, and you are giving your ‘first-fruits’ in any kind of weather.

Then lastly, there is spending: we are good at that! Living out our vocation and places in life – family, business, education and career…..

So, practicing thanksgiving when it come to money is;

  1. Saving,
  2. Giving
  3.  Spending

I pray you are thankful to the Lord Jesus today and that this has its effect of generosity of spirit toward him and others so that you trust his promises to you and generously share yourself and what you have in whatever way. This s how you and we all grow. The promise to you is clear:

“You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God” among many here and beyond … (1 Corinthians 9:11)






Sunday 8:45am
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