A wise person said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I want to share with you a little formula that expresses what it means to live generously. It starts with GRACE, unmerited favor—“God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Our gracious God has treated us far better than we deserve. Our ship was sinking, but Jesus became our lifeboat. Our plane was going down, but Jesus became our parachute. Our hearts were failing, but Jesus gave us his own heart as a transplant. When your past has been forgiven, your present has a purpose, and your future is Heaven, it’s because of God’s grace.
And that leads to the second part of the formula: GRATITUDE. Grace and gratitude come from the same root word. When you receive God’s grace, it fills you with gratitude. Have you thanked God recently for your seeing eyes, your beating heart, your breathing lungs, and your taste buds that enable you to enjoy the food that fuels your body? Have you thanked the Lord for his strengthening presence, his written Word, and the encouragement you receive from others he has placed in your life? A presumptuous person says, “I earned all this.” A grateful person says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
Remember how Jesus healed 10 men who had leprosy, but only one came back and said “thank you”? The ingratitude rate that day was 90 percent. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17). Where would we have been in that story? Would you and I have come back to say thanks, or would we have been one of the nine—just happy to move on with our lives?
Here’s how the formula works:
GRACE + GRATITUDE = GENEROSITY
Generosity is a natural overflow of God’s grace in our lives. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The word thanksgiving links together two key ideas: gratitude and generosity (thanks + giving).
“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) because he is a cheerful giver. Grace leads to gratitude, and gratitude leads to generosity. But there’s one more piece to the formula:
GENEROSITY x God
Our generosity is multiplied by God. When the Lord is part of the equation, the impact of our generosity increases exponentially. In Jesus’ hands, five loaves plus two fish equal more than 5,000 people fed with 12 baskets of leftovers. In Jesus’ hands, the impact of our tithes and offerings is multiplied beyond what we imagine. In Jesus’ eyes, when a poor widow empties her savings account and gives the only two copper coins she owns, she actually gives more than all the rich people who give out of their abundance.
Paul told the Corinthians to “excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). God doesn’t need our money, but we need to give. Giving stretches our faith, reinforces our priorities, blesses other people, expands the kingdom of Heaven, and enhances our own spiritual growth.
We can “excel in this grace of giving” if we arrange our lives according to this simple formula: GRACE leads to GRATITUDE, which results in GENEROSITY, and it’s all multiplied because of GOD.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, ©2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.