And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
I. THE ABUNDANT RESOURCES GOD PUTS AT THE DISPOSAL OF THE CHRISTIAN.
1. Men are at their best estate altogether dependent, having in themselves nothing, but want, weakness, and sin.
2. All grace is in God; he has both the power and the disposition to supply every want. It is his nature to bestow; he is the God of grace.
3. His grace not only gives, it abounds to us. The gift of his Son is the proof of inexhaustible love. So with the gift of his Spirit. In fact, in the gospel there is a generosity of bestowment; no withholding and no grudging.
4. Christians, as his people, are thus partakers of Divine sufficiency. "All things are yours;" such is the deed of gift in which the heavenly Father places at the disposal of his family all the resources of his nature and liberality.
5. The liberality of God extends through every stage of individual life, and through every period of the Church's history. His bounties and favours are as the leaves of the forest, the waves of the sea, the stars of the sky - unnumbered and innumerable.
II. THE CORRESPONDING REQUIREMENTS AND EXPECTATIONS OF GOD FROM HIS PEOPLE. Religion consists of two parts - what God does for us, and what God demands from us.
1. It is taken for granted that the Christian life consists in "good works;" that the disciple of Christ is naturally a worker, whose energies and possessions are to be consecrated to God in his Son. Gifts, services, sympathy, speech, aid, - such are the manifestations of the spiritual life which the Lord of all desires and beholds.
2. Here is implied a relation between God's works and those of his people. His abounding gifts are to be regarded as
(1) the example of ours;
(2) the means of ours, for we can only give others what he has given us;
(3) the measure of ours, as liberal and generous; and
(4) the motive to ours, inasmuch as we are constrained by the love of God and by the cross of Christ. - T.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him giveI. WHAT IS MEANT BY A CHEERFUL GIVER? To be this one must —
1. Give proportionately, for cheerful givers reckon how much as good stewards is expected from them. If giving the tenth of one's income to the Lord were a duty under the Jewish, much more is it so now under the Christian dispensation. But the Jew, with his free-will offerings, etc., perhaps gave as much as a third altogether. And at this present day the Hindoos give very nearly that proportion, and thus shame the illiberality of many Christians. I do not, however, like to lay down rules. Give as the Lord hath prospered you, and do not make your estimate what will appear respectable, or what is expected by others, but as in the sight of God.
2. Give willingly, and do not be "bled" or squeezed like the young grape to get the wine out because it is not ripe We ought to be like the honeycomb, dropping spontaneously.
3. Get beyond the serf-like, slavish spirit. The slave brings his pittance, which he is obliged to pay, and goes his way in misery. But the child, pleased to give its Father what it can, beholds the Father smile, and goes its way rejoicing.
4. Give very earnestly. Some give God their time, but they are half asleep. Some give Him their efforts, but their heart never seems in them.
5. Wish that we could give ten times as much. Oh that we could learn the secret of entire consecration!
II. WHY DOES GOD LOVE A CHEERFUL GIVER? Because —
1. He made the world on the plan of cheerful giving, and the great Artist loves all that is consistent with His plan. Why is the sun bright? Because it is giving away its light. Why is it glorious? Because it is scattering its beams on all sides. The moon — wherefore do we rejoice in her? Because what light she receives from the sun she gives again to us. Even yon twinkling stars — their brightness and radiance consist in their giving. Take the earth; what is its excellence but what it gives? Thousands of years ago there were vast forests waving in the sunbeams, and giving themselves to die to form vast stores of coal for future use. There is not a tree but is giving perpetually. There is not a flower but its very sweetness lies in its shedding its fragrance. All the rivers run into the sea, the sea feeds the clouds, the clouds empty out their treasures, the earth gives back the rain in fertility, and so it is an endless chain of giving generosity. There is nothing in this world but lives by giving, except a covetous man, and such a man is a piece of grit in the machinery. He is out of date; out of God's order altogether. But the cheerful giver is marching to the music of the spheres.
2. Grace has placed such a man in order with the laws of redemption as well as the laws of nature. Salvation is not a thing to be earned and won, but is the result of the free grace of God. Now the professed Christian, who is no giver, or being a giver is not a cheerful giver, is out of order with the system which revolves around the Cross of Christ.
3. He loves anything that makes His people happy; and the spirit of love to others is the surest source of happiness. He who lives for himself must be wretched.
4. In such He sees the work of His Spirit. It takes a great deal of grace to make some men cheerful givers. With some the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets.
II. WHY WE WHO LOVE THE LORD SHOULD SEEK TO BE CHEERFUL GIVERS WHOM GOD LOVES. Because —
1. All we have we owe to Him.
2. Recollect that the time for giving will soon be over.
3. We have need of a giving God.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. For cheerful giving it is necessary, first of all, that the heart should be free from the spirit of covetousness. There is no harm that I can see in a man liking the things which only money can purchase; and there is no harm in desiring to make money in order to be able to purchase them. I cannot think that God is displeased if we like the pleasant things which He has made, for He meant us to like them, or He never would have made them. And if it is no sin to like them it is no sin to desire to have them; but we cannot have them without money. But it is possible to like these pleasant things too well, to have the heart absorbed by them; it is possible to care too much for them, and to be indifferent to the great end of life, and to those supreme duties which should have our first thought and our most earnest care. Perhaps it is not so much the love of the pleasant things which money brings which is the worst enemy of large-hearted liberality, as the desire to live in style, and the wish to accumulate money for its own sake. God loves a cheerful giver, because cheerful giving proves that the spirit of covetousness is blotted out.
2. For cheerful giving there must be a hearty sympathy with the particular objects for which we are asked to give. No doubt many accidental circumstances determine the direction in which our sympathies are directed. Many of us have a deep interest in missions to the heathen, whilst some of us care most about missions to the heathen at home. Some men are specially impressed with the importance of the duty of chapel building, and some — though not many — are particularly interested in our colleges. Many of us have known people who have gone to the hospital during the year, and have come out in health and strength, and it is hardly possible for any man with a human heart beating in his breast not to be touched by the appeal which comes to you to-day. God loves a man who gives cheerfully for an object of this sort because the gift is induced by the very spirit of compassion by which the hand of Christ was moved to confer miraculous relief. When we ask to be filled with the mind that was in Christ Jesus, we desire to be filled with the compassion for human misery that possessed Him.
3. In cheerful giving our gifts must bear a fair proportion to our resources. I believe that any man who gave a shilling at the collection last year, and was unconscious of any thrill of pleasure, would find that by giving ten shillings the pleasure would come. God Himself doubtless rejoices in all the joy with which His bountiful hand enriches His creatures. He loves a cheerful giver, because when a man gives cheerfully he gives not only at the impulse of a generous love, but he gives largely enough to make his gift a real sacrifice, and by every sacrifice for others we are brought into closer sympathy with God Himself.
4. Giving becomes most cheerful when it is exalted into an act of thanksgiving and an expression of love for God as well as for man. The collection is a part of the service; and it is something for us to have one portion of the service in which we may all take a part with cheerfulness. In very much of the service, I fear, there is very little joy for many of you. When we are showing forth God's praise some of your hearts are filled with self-reproach, because there is not more fervour and gladness in thanksgiving. But those of you who are most depressed may rejoice that to one appeal which God makes you can respond with cheerfulness. To-day He asks us what we will do to lessen their suffering and restore them to health. He will rejoice if with any thoughts of them our hearts are moved with compassion, and if we give cheerfully out of love to them. But if we remember how dear they are to Him, and give the more largely because of that, He will rejoice the more. And we too shall give the more cheerfully if we remember that by our giving we not only alleviate human suffering, but made glad the heart of God. Here is something we can do for God Himself. You serve Me if you serve My children. "God loveth a cheerful giver," for he who gives most cheerfully, gives out of love for God, as well as out of love for man.
(R. W. Dale, D. D.)
God is able to make all grace abound towards youEphesians 3:20.
I. "GOD IS ABLE" — a very simple proposition. A self-evident one to those who really believe in God. Is not the opinion of many something like this? — "God is not able to do much specifically. Granting His personal existence, He can only act along the line of the laws, and in conformity with the great forces of the universe." "God is able" is our answer to this. Whatever He has done, He can do again. Is He not the Creator still, every day? Every morning He says, "Let there be light." Every year He says, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind."
II. THEN SURELY HE IS ABLE TO RULE THE WORLD HE HAS CREATED, AND STILL CREATES. He is the Lord of Creation, and not its servant. The "laws" of the world are but the methods of God. Nature is God's way of acting to-day. If He acts differently to-morrow, that will be nature too. It will be another nature, another method of God made known. He can act behind all the points that are visible to us, and without altering the "order of nature" He can produce what change He desires.
III. WE MAY THEREFORE ASK HIM TO GIVE US WHAT WE THINK WOULD BE GOOD FOR US. There are limits to prayer as to everything else. Every one is bound to say with the Master Himself — "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Still there is room for prayer.
1. Take, e.g., "Give us this day our daily bread." That scarcely any would object to. Even sceptical people wish to be fed. Even the richest of men need bread. But that simple prayer is an appeal to the all-ability of God; and if answered, as it is continually, involves supernatural considerations.
2. We pray to God also about the weather. But there are some who are almost afraid to pray about it. The feeling is: "We had better to leave it; God knows best what to do. We are under physical laws. If we pray at all, let it be for the spirit of submission to them." This shadowy phantom that men call law, which is nothing but the present amount of their own knowledge of God's methods of action, disappears for a while when the great Presence is realised, and then it comes stalking in again and makes for the throne, and its worshippers stand around with formula and definition, with records of discoveries, with catalogues of sciences and arts, and say, "Law is king."
3. Thus we reach the solemn dread issue — "God or no God!" For if I may not ask my daily bread from God, if I may not tell Him what I wish about the weather, then what may I speak to Him about? "About spiritual blessings"; but are they not also given according to law? If God is bound to act invariably in the material sphere, He is equally bound to act invariably in the spiritual sphere; and if we may not pray to Him in the one, we may not pray to Him in the other. It is God or no God.
IV. PRAYER SPRINGS FROM THIS FAITH THAT "GOD IS ABLE." For what is prayer? "Our Father which art in heaven" is the answer. Prayer is the child speaking to the Father — asking anything that seems good and needful.
1. Prayer is asking. It is not dictation. If it were, it would be liable to the objections urged against it.
2. Answers come in many ways. They sometimes come by denial of the particular request, in order that a greater blessing may be given.
3. Do you say, "I am not so much concerned about the outward things of this life, but I am borne down by a sense of guilt: I see no way of escape, for it is written, "As a man soweth, so shall he also reap'"? I answer, "God is able to forgive."
4. Do you say, "My nature seems strengthless. I can wish, but I can do nothing"? I answer, "God is able" to make you all that He designs man to be.
5. Or do you say, "I hope I am forgiven, and yet I am in fear. The heart is deceitful, temptation is strong. What if after all I should make shipwreck of faith"? My answer is, "God is able" to guide you safely through.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)I. THE EXHAUSTLESS TREASURE — "All grace." You know if a man has got a little money, and he lives upon the principal, he may get rid of it all and be reduced to want; but here is a treasure that you may live upon — the interest and principal too — as long as life lasts.
1. This is treasured up by God the Father in His infinite, paternal love; and it can no more be plundered than it can fail or be exhausted.
2. It is held officially and responsibly by our covenant Head. He is the Treasure, and He is the Treasurer.
3. It is imparted by the Holy Ghost. It is His province first to implant all His own graces, and then to impart supplies to those graces to call them into lively exercise.
II. THE ABOUNDINGS OF THE SUPPLY. "God is able to make all grace abound towards you." It is of no use for a man to tell me that he has abundance of gold locked up in an iron chest, and he has lost the key; but let it be brought out, and it may be of some importance. So also with the statement of my text. God does not deal as parsimoniously with us as as we with Him. It is abounding grace that He bestows.
1. He does not always meet the caprice, the carnal desire of His people, but He always makes His grace abound in everything they really need.
2. God makes all grace to abound for the replenishing of the exhausted child of God. Those of you who have been at all accustomed to sharp exercises will be prepared at once to recognise the seasons in which you have felt exhausted, just like the man that is running a race, and bids fair to win the prize, but his strength is exhausted, just like the man that has been hungering and thirsting a long while, and is almost wishing to die. Now, in such cases as these, what is the abounding of grace for but to replenish? "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength."
Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness
I. Economical comes from the Greek root which means "home feeding." Now, fathers and mothers, what does home-feeding mean? Just to measure out so many ounces to your little child, and a little more to your eldest one? Is that the way we feed our children? No! We set them down at the table and let them eat as much as they like, until they have had enough — that is economy. The Mosaic economy is the dispensation of God's abundant graces through the teaching, etc., of Moses to the family of Israel. The economy of Christ is taken, I suppose, from the miracle of the loaves, where Christ stands as the Father, breaks the bread, blesses it, and gives it out, and there is enough and to spare. The economy of grace is God giving enough for each and all — bestowing His Holy Spirit, enough for each and for all. Economy is one of the noblest and most bountiful words in the language.
II. THRIFTY. You say, "I must be thrifty," and I hope you will; for it is an adjective derived from the words "to thrive." And thrive as fast as you can, and God's blessing be with you. But do not attach a meaning that is "mean" to it. A thrifty table is a thriving table, and a bountiful one too.
III. FRUGAL. This comes from the Latin Frugis, fruitful. A frugal table is a fruitful table, groaning beneath the weight of God's temporal gifts.
(R. Maguire, D. D.)
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