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Scripture

Matthew 10:8, 6:3-4

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

 

 

Observation

Matthew 10:8

Any Jew would recognise this statement and the accompanying command that Jesus gave. Rabbis were instructed to teach the Law free of any charge. They were forbidden from taking any remuneration as Moses had freely received it from God. A rabbi could only accept payment for teaching a child, for that was seen as the parents’ work, but if the parents did not have the time to teach their own children a rabbi could be paid to do it instead. Any judgments or testimonies given by a judge or witness were considered null and void if there was any payment involved.

Jesus instructed His followers to pass on all they had learned without expecting any payment. They were to be men of God, not men of business out to make a profit. Their first interest should be God not any gain. However, whilst it was true a Rabbi should not expect payment, it was considered an honour and a privilege to support a Rabbi whose priority was to serve God.

Everything we have is from God. We own nothing for we can take nothing with us when we die. God expects us to share what we have with those who have nothing, freely and willingly, expecting nothing in return, not even approval. We are to see giving as a privilege. Such giving results in joy as we give in Jesus’ name. It glorifies Him and is an eternal blessing for anyone who can give in this way.

Matthew 6:3-4

Making an offering was the most sacred religious duty any Jew could make. The same word was used for giving alms and being righteous. However offerings were not to be made to gain favour either with God or with people. It was considered to be a greater gift if the donor did not know who would be blessed by it and the recipient did not know who gave it.

There may be a sense of prestige in giving when the donor is praised and glorified for the gift. To give in secret would mean that such praise and honour would not be received. No one would thank the donor. Such a person gives for the sake of Gods glory, not any glory of his own.

Some, though, may give because it is in their nature to do so. The love of God overflows from them to those in need around them. Their kindness and love for others helps them to see how they can help. This does not always lead to approval by those who stand by and watch – sometimes they suspect some form of ulterior motive.

Nevertheless giving must flow from such a loving heart as we give to others in the same way Christ gave Himself to us, and when it does it must be done in secret. Giving in secret even from ourselves means there if no sense of self congratulation. God is audience enough to witness what you are doing.

Motive is the essential criterion here. If someone gives for their own glory and no one finds out, there will be no reward for their giving for their sense of glory in themselves is the reward they receive. If however a gift is given in secret for the glory of God, and someone discovers the donor, the reward will still be forthcoming as the gift was given with the right motive. God sees both the act and the motive and will reward the donor or not according to their motive.

Icebreaker:

What would you rather give – a physical present or an experience to share? Which one would you prefer to receive? Why do you think you feel this way?

Application

  • What is your picture of God? How does this picture shape how you live and relate to Him and others?
  • How would you describe our generous God? Pick one item (colours, food, the patterns on the coats of animals etc) and describe as many as you can – make a list. What does this say to you about God’s extravagant nature?
  • Do you trust God? How do you struggle to do so? What has helped your trust to grow – or stagnate? How can you move into a deeper trust relationship with God?
  • What was your reaction to the story told by Juan Carlos Ortez about the man’s life, wife, children, house, campervan, job, salary? How did you respond to hearing about God’s generosity? (Share the story with those who were not there or listen to the audio of the sermon if you have not heard it.)
  • Exodus 13:1-2 says the first is the Lord’s. How do you put this into practice in your own life?
  • John Wesley instructed the people called Methodist to earn as much as they can; save as much as they can; give as much as they can. What would he say to you about how you relate to money?
  • ‘You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.’ What is your motive for giving/ not giving?
  • How joyfully do you receive the gifts God gives you on a day to day basis? Does your response to God’s generosity speak of your love for Him? How much do you love God and how do you show that love to Him?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer

Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Service

Ask God to show you how you can give generously this week, without hesitation, or counting the cost. How do you feel about doing so? What happens if you do/do not follow God’s lead? Report back to the group about your reaction – not whether you followed through or not if you would prefer not to do so.

Bibliography

Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1 Chapters 1-10. The Saint
Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1991

Matthew Chapter 6

Matthew Chapter 10

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