Going Deeper into Loving Others
Here we go… deeper into Give… opening our hands wide…
Gather your sisters (or a brother or two) along with your Bible, journal, and your favorite pen.
Father God, Your open hand satisfies us with all good things. Teach us to give in the same manner as You.
Read Reflection Scripture:
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
– 2Corinthians 9:11 ESV
What insights did you gain from the Reflection Scripture and Reflection Thoughts when it comes to being Openhanded when you Give?
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way… The Greek translated as every way means just that: any, all, whole, some of all types (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). To be enriched in every way means there is no area of life we cannot be generous with. We are not just talking material possessions, but time, energy, wisdom, understanding, compassion, mercy, etc.
The enrichment of God is multifaceted. What He calls us to give with generosity, He provides in the same manner — generously.
Generous in the original language includes sincerity, mental honesty, as well as not self-seeking, and “openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity” (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). This is heartfelt, sincere, honest, openhanded giving. When we look at the Reflection Scripture in context, we see this clearly.
Read 2Corinthians 9:6-12
What does this passage reveal about the spiritual reality of giving?
The more we give, the more He provides. The sowing and reaping of crops is the metaphor used for giving. If we sow sparingly, we will reap in like manner… sparingly. If we sow bountifully, generously, our gain will be that much greater.
What does God make abound to us for every good work?
He makes all grace abound to us for every good work He’s prepared for us to do. In addition to being enriched in every way, His grace is added in abundant measure so we can open our hands wide and give whenever and whatever He places on our heart.
What does the ministry of giving supply?
The ministry of giving supplies the needs of the saints and thanksgiving to God (verses 10 and 11). True generous Spirit-led giving opens people’s eyes to see God and give Him thanks. Our generous giving blesses both Believers and God.
Have you experienced the blessing of more when you’ve given generously? How?
What is it you tend to “sow sparingly” when it comes to giving? Why?
We tend to give little when we feel like we have little to give. Fear also enters the picture. When it looks like we don’t have enough to fill the need, we may choose to give nothing instead. We don’t want to fall short and fail.
The Reflection Scripture tells us God enriches us for generous giving. He adds to, increases, what we have when we give by faith.
Jesus trusted His Father with the call to provide a meal for a crowd of more than 5000 with just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:15-21). He asked His Father to bless the gift and the opportunity to give. Then He instructed His disciples to feed the people.
Jesus gave what the Father provided with blessing and not fear:
No fear of not having enough.
No fear of failing in the call.
No fear of leaving anyone hungry.
When all was done, everyone was satisfied and basketfuls of leftovers remained.
When God presses us to give, we can be assured He will provide no matter what it is – in all types and all ways – He doesn’t just give enough, He makes us rich in whatever commodity is needed. Because we have a generous God who enriches us in every way, we can afford to be generous, even openhanded, with all we have.
Prayer of Praise
Did praising God as Creator of life encourage you to open your hands wide? How?
In the Word
Turn to Psalm 104.
Read aloud Psalm 104:1-15, 24, 27-28 written below. [If you’re with others read it out loud together.]
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.
He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass so that they might not again cover the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. …
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. …
These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
What adjective do you think best describes God’s provision?
Abundant. Excessive. Bountiful. Lavish. Extravagant.
Lavish means expending or bestowing profusely and paints a good picture of God’s excess in creating. But extravagant means exceeding the limits of reason or necessity, extremely or exceedingly elaborate (Merriam-Webster’s).
What God created and provides through creation is far beyond our needs. For a few billion humans, He created a vast universe in which to place them. The streams and rivers gushing forth water for the beasts… far beyond their needs. The acorns of a single oak feed squirrels, birds, and whatever other animals eats them and there are still enough on the ground to produce more trees.
His provision is complete and sustaining. God not only provides us with everything we need for life, He gives us the means to produce more, which blesses us with the ability to give to others as He does. We can’t do this on our own, it is one of the gifts He gives us to work alongside Him in providing for His creation.
When we consider His bountiful creation and His way of providing and keeping its creatures, should we have any fear of scarcity? Why or why not?
As Creator, He created and is creating. Always bringing something from nothing.
Read Genesis 1:1-13
How did God create the vast expanse of the universe from nothing?
By speaking, God created. Whatever He said, it was so.
How should we respond to His speaking generosity in our lives when we feel empty? Void of whatever it is He’s calling us to give? What hinders us from giving what we feel we don’t have?
I’m faced with this something from nothing dilemma every time I approach the writing of a lesson, a teaching, a devotional.
Within myself there is nothing of any value to share. No knowledge. No understanding. Nothing except what He provides or inspires. In my nothingness, I’m generally led to kneel face down on the floor. From there I confess my emptiness, doubt, and yes, even some resentment toward the nothing and nowhere to start.
It is in these moments of facedown praising, confessing, and thanksgiving, I’m reminded who He is. Our great God who creates something ex nihilo — out of nothing. And by faith I get up and listen for what He says…
Psalm 104:28 and 29 describe two different stances God has toward mankind and the way those stances effect people: His open hand satisfies, His turned face dismays.
When God opens His hand, we are filled with good things. But when He hides His face we are dismayed, disturbed, alarmed, anxious (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). The original language includes acting hastily, which in Americanese could be “thrown into a tizzy.”
What do these two responses to God’s stance toward us reveal about our relationship to Him? How do we see it in the general attitude of the world today?
In the world today, there is a lot of fear over scarcity of resources, and very little talk about our Great Creator and Sustainer. When we neglect to see God for who He is and confess our ultimate dependence on Him, we become frantic over not having enough.
Do you allow fear of scarcity to stir panic in your personal world?
Trusting His power to make something out of our nothing, loosens our grip on what we have.
Turn to Psalm 136
Read Psalm 136:1-9
What inspired God to create? What makes His wonders so great?
God’s goodness, greatness and inspiration for creating are rooted in His steadfast love which endures forever.
Recently my mom made a tunic for me. I saw the pattern in the store and its vintage look caught my attention. She found a fabric in my favorite color, one she knew I would like. The process of creating the top took time. She would sew, and then bring it to me for a fitting. We made adjustments. She ripped out, added tucks, and moved buttons. I was reminded how intimate creation is.
God’s creation reveals the same kind of intimacy. This is no accidental, happen-stance, big bang creation. I believe He weaves a bit of Himself in each part of this world. From mountains to valleys, molecules to mass, Creation is an expression of God’s steadfast love.
How are we to respond to His love?
The psalmist calls us to give thanks for His steadfast love which is behind everything He does and is.
Where do you see His steadfast love in your life when you consider both your past and present? Are you thank-full?
Do you think it’s important to give Him thanks? Why or why not?
Recognizing God’s love through His openhanded giving and giving Him thanks is an important part of our relationship with Him and impacts our spiritual well-being.
Read Romans 1:18-23
What angers God?
God’s wrath is against those who are ungodly and deny the truth of His existence, love, and provision, which is clearly evident in all He has created and maintains.
What do the ungodly fail to do despite all the evidence in the world? How does it affect them?
The unrighteous, those who deny God, fail to give Him honor and thanks. The effect of denying the evidence of God and neglecting to foster a proper attitude toward Him turns their thinking futile and darkens their foolish hearts.
Please understand, God does not get angry because He feels unappreciated when He doesn’t get a Thank You as we do on occasion. His wrath is fueled by the lies which keep His people from the truth, enslaving them to sin and idolatry.
He loves all, but His love is not a self-centered needy love. His love is completely other-centered. He is not offended when He is disrespected. Just look at Jesus’s response to His arrest, persecution, and crucifixion for evidence. His wrath comes from a heart jealous for the lives of those who are lost and rebel against Him, those who have been blinded and choose the deadly lie over the life-giving truth.
Giving God openhanded thanks for His open hand toward us is essential to maintaining a right perspective on life.
How does blessing God with thanks bless you?
Do you find yourself more open to giving when you regularly honor God with thanksgiving?
Being openhanded in our praise and thanks toward God moves us to be more openhanded toward others.
Read Matthew 6:24-34
According to this passage, what is mankind most anxious about?
Jesus reveals the heart of man as being most anxious about our physical and material needs. Is this true of you?
Jesus also points out the impossibility of serving two masters. Money (or mammon – material wealth) and God are the two specifically listed. How would you describe the difference between serving one vs the other?
To serve material wealth is to pursue the things of the world, to be more concerned with our own needs than others. God, on the other hand, calls us to be other-centered: Love God, love others.
What did Jesus mean when He said, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Life – true life – is not about the physical or material, there is something more important. The state of our soul. Our spiritual lives.
As the verse says, we can only serve one master. To pursue the material is to pursue the things of the flesh, what the world cares most about. A life focused primarily on the material causes worry and we trust God less and less.
We are called by faith to put trust in the unseen, not what we see (2Corinthians 4:18). We are called to seek the Kingdom of God, His rule in our lives, and so serve Him as He calls us to with all He’s given us. We are not to be anxious for our physical needs, because God will take care of those when we allow Him to rule in our lives as we seek to live in His Kingdom right here on earth.
The spiritual and material are opposed to one another, just as the flesh and the Holy Spirit are.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:6-8 ESV
The material world is temporary, what God is concerned with – our souls – is eternal in nature. He wants us to keep an eternal focus and not get distracted by the earthly. As we saw in Romans, the created world is meant to reveal God, not become our god.
It all comes down to our focus and where we determine to invest what He has given.
Read Matthew 6:19-21
These verses preface the passage calling us to be anxious for nothing.
Where are we called to invest? Why?
We are called to store up treasures in heaven, because the treasures of heaven are incorruptible. They are eternal.
What does it look like to invest in heaven?
Jesus answered this question in His conversation with the wealthy man who wanted to know the way to eternal life. Ultimately, He told him: “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22 NLT)
The openhanded giving God calls us to has no regard for self, only for God. It is reflected in Jesus’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane: Not my will, but Yours be done.”
To love others as yourself is to be as anxious for another’s well-being in the same way you are for your own. Therefore, we give to others in need as readily as we would give to ourselves.
Where do we see this type of giving in Scripture?
- Ruth in leaving behind her homeland to support her widowed mother-in-law
- Joseph in forgiveness and provision for his brothers
- Moses in the leading of God’s people out of slavery
- Nehemiah in his building of Jerusalem’s wall post-exile
- Mary the mother of Jesus
- Paul in his evangelism and church-planting ministry
- Jesus in emptying Himself of His divinity to save His rebellious, lost creatures
Being openhanded, not considering anything as our own, and trusting God wholly with what He’s given us and what He calls us to give is the way to begin storing up eternal treasure in heaven. Where it really matters.
What emotions rise as you consider living this kind of openhanded life? What does it reveal about what you believe about God?
Because our souls are eternal, so are our relationships with other Believers. Investing in people through Spirit-inspired giving is another way to store up eternal treasure (1Thessalonians 2:19-20). If giving builds relationship and turns another’s eyes toward God in thanks, why not give freely? You can’t take it with you.
Openhanded giving can feel risky, but in the end it is always worth it.
Read Psalm 112
Who is considered blessed in this psalm?
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments!
The Hebrew for “blessed” is a word which is sometimes translated happy, and depicts someone who is to be envied with desire (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament).
What do you most envy in other people? What blessing would you most like to have?
What type of blessings are characterized by this man’s life of obedience and fear of the Lord?
This man who fears God seems to fear nothing else. Not bad news. Not getting involved in the lives of others in need or those who have been treated unjustly. He is carefree in his lending and generosity.
How do you describe “fear of the Lord”?
Genuine faith is expressed in, and animated by, a reverential awe, and this is the basic meaning of the biblical idea of the fear of God. Unless there is personal awareness of the awesome and majestic sovereignty of God, it is impossible to have a meaningful faith existing in one’s heart.
–Tyndale Bible Dictionary
“Fear of the Lord” is the proper attitude toward God as Creator, King, Father, Judge, and Savior. Like the appropriate respect children are to have for their earthly parents, we are to have toward God.
A proper attitude toward God and experiential knowledge of His love and grace, move our hearts to trust Him and live free of fear.
The Word tells us:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.
Psalm 111:10 ESV
Wisdom and good understanding are what we most need when it comes to practicing openhanded giving. Which is not giving according to our emotions.
Where do you struggle when it comes to openhanded giving? Is it something which incites fear? How?
“God, have I been closed-handed in some way lately?”
Sometimes I wonder why I ask the hard questions. Because I know through experience He is faithful to answer.
It didn’t take any further digging. His answer came swiftly as I remembered my recent response to my husband’s question. Honestly, I’ve been snappy, refusing to give respect. The heart of my respect issue was and is wrapped up in my feelings of whether the question deserved a respectful answer. I was humbled and disgusted with myself.
Openhanded giving is not based on what we believe others deserve or have earned. It is rooted in our desire to obey the One who continues to give even though there is nothing we can do to earn it.
Do you find it hard to give when you feel someone hasn’t earned it or deserves it?
A line from Psalm 112 is quoted in the passage where the Reflection Scripture is found in context.
Read 2Corinthians 9:9-10
The writer of Corinthians uses the quote from Psalm 112 as an illustration to help make his point. What is the result of the man’s openhanded giving?
The man’s righteousness endures forever because he freely gives to the poor.
Why does God multiply our seed for sowing?
God multiplies the seed for sowing beyond our needs to give us the potential to increase our harvest of righteousness.
In light of the quoted verse from Psalm 112, how do we increase our righteousness? By freely giving to the poor.
The Greek word translated as righteousness in these two verses means: the condition acceptable to God… integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon).
The one who fears the Lord and gives freely to those in need is the one who is considered right and acceptable to God in his thinking, feeling, and acting. This is the one considered blessed, who lives a life to be envied with desire.
In contrast, Jesus told a parable about a man whose crops were greatly multiplied and decided to build bigger barns to store it all up and retire. This man was called a fool and his life was taken from him before he could selfishly enjoy what God multiplied in his life (Luke 12:15-21).
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:21 NIV
God multiplies our “seed” for us to live a right life through openhanded giving and increase our righteousness. Another one of our eternal treasures.
Our hands and hearts should open wide before God, making everything He gives us available to Him for His use and His glory.
On Day 5 of our study we examined our giving as Spirit-Inspired.
What thoughts came to mind as you considered Psalm 104 and the actions of the Creator?
What did the image reveal about God as you considered it from the perspective of His abundant blessings poured out into your open hands?
When our hands are open to receive, His provision overflows our hands. The abundance of His grace is more than we can physically, emotionally, or spiritually hold on to.
Some of what He pours out is for us to use, act on, pursue. But the excess, could it be a picture of His extravagant giving like we see in creation? Does He give in such a lavish, bountiful, abundant, excessive way to show us just how great He is? How faithful? How trustworthy?
O Lord my God, you are very great!
I arrived at the shop emotional, wondering if I failed to seek God in the giving of a gift I gave. I shared my heart with the sister. The time I spent choosing something I believed would be a blessing. The planning… the forethought… all I put into a gift. I was hoping it would reveal my love, and all it did was create anxiety. Did I miss the mark? Forget to seek God?
Being God-inspired in our giving doesn’t always produce the positive reaction we expect or hope for. Sometimes God’s overflow can be a splash in the face to the one receiving the gift. Their first instinct is to turn away.
Openhanded, God-inspired giving is risky business, even painful if our focus is another’s response to the gift given. There will be times those we give to will turn away or respond negatively. It can leave us feeling like it is better not to give at all. But we must keep our focus on the Giver of all things. We must open our hands wide and trust the overflow to Him and His perfect plan.
God’s greatness and grace go beyond physical, spiritual, and emotional provision. As His Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, He begins to grow blessings for us to give others through The Fruit We Bear. This is what we’ll explore next week as we continue Going Deeper into Give.
Lord, open our hands toward You.
Click here for PDF of the homework: Give Week 3 – The Fruit We Bear – Homework