The questions in this small group guide relate to the sermon from Nov. 15, 2020. If your group has not had a chance to listen to the full sermon related to this discussion guide, they can find it in our sermon library. Rev. Adam Hamilton preached this week’s sermon.
Lord Jesus, we need to be generous as much or more as anyone else needs our generosity. As we learn about generosity from you and from one another, we welcome your Spirit’s presence to guide our thinking. Teach us and transform us through what we learn, we pray. Amen.
- Read Acts 20:32-35. Pastor Adam said, “Multiple studies on generosity indicate that generosity increases happiness, lowers stress and leads to longer and more joyful lives. The biblical authors knew this, which is why giving is a regular prescription in Scripture, and why Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Can you think of one or more experiences of generosity when in some sense you received more than you gave?
- Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11. As Israel became a settled nation, they wrote principles for giving to help them remember that God was the ultimate source of all they had. Deuteronomy said they brought the first part of each crop to God, recognized their humble human descent, and thanked God as the creator and deliverer who made life’s good things possible. In a largely agricultural society, generosity usually meant giving cattle or produce, not money. Sometimes they’d count every 10th animal or fruit. But it wasn’t always easy to reckon exactly 10% (“tithe”)—what if you only had 7 sheep? They also spoke of giving “early produce” or “first fruits” to God. What would look like for you today to offer the “early produce” of less tangible but valuable possessions to God?
- Read 2 Chronicles 31:5-6. Another consistent theme in Israel’s approach to giving to God was to give God “the best.” (The laws about sacrifices also reflected that—worshippers were not to offer God damaged animals they could more easily spare; cf. Deuteronomy 15:21, 17:1). When dealing with cash, or resources moved electronically with the click of a mouse, it can be hard to discern what giving “our best” means. In what ways can you make your giving, whether of material goods or money, an expression of bringing “your best” to God?
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:8-11. Paul’s specific focus was collecting funds from Gentile Christians to assist poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. Yet he talked less about what we give than about the vastness of what God gives us: “everything you need always,” “every kind of grace” and “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way.” A few verses later he exclaimed, “Thank God for his gift that words can’t describe!” (2 Corinthians 9:15) Have you ever received a gift that “left you speechless,” that words couldn’t fully describe? When has realizing the vast range of God’s gift(s) to you left you with a similar sense of wonder to the one Paul described?
- Read John 6:5-14. Pastor Adam said, “This boy has his lunch in a basket–five small pieces of bread and a couple of fish. I assure you Jesus didn’t force the boy to give up his bread and fish. He gave them to Jesus. And you remember the rest of the story. Jesus took this bread, blessed it, broke it and distributed it.
Some suggest that part of the miracle was that when this boy gave up his lunch, other people were moved by this, and they began to give away and share their lunch, and with open hands, people began to share, and Jesus took all of their little, and miraculously used it to feed 5,000 people on that day. Little became much when placed in the Master’s hands.
This week your commitment card will arrive in the mail. This is a difficult year for some in our congregation who cannot give as they have in the past. I’m asking the rest of us to step up to the plate and to give more generously than we have before and we’ll find there’s more than enough to feed all the people who look to Resurrection for hope and help and strength and spiritual food.”
As a group, discuss, not specific situations or amounts to pledge, but how the principles the pastor preached about can guide each of you in responding to the commitment cards that church members will receive. And remember—turning in your commitment card helps the church’s planning whether you can give a lot, a little or even nothing at all in current circumstances.
Loving Jesus, like the boy who shared his lunch, like Andrew who brought the boy to Jesus even though it seemed to him like a pointlessly small gesture, help us to focus on the spirit of generosity without trying to guess how big or small an impact our generosity might have in your hands. Remind us that you have creativity and resources that reach beyond our wildest imagination and teach us to trust that you can do more with whatever we share than we could. Amen.