Key Scriptures: Acts 9:36-43, Luke 21:1-4, John 6:5-9, Matthew 19:16-30, II Corinthians 9:7, Luke 6:38, Matthew 6:1-4, Acts 20:35, I Timothy 5:8, Hebrews 13:15-16, Matthew 5:42, Malachi 3:8-12, I Peter 4:10, Matthew 19:21, I Timothy 6:17-19, I Corinthians 16:1-2, James 1:17
Guiding Question: How can we be the giving people God calls us to be?
Optional Introductory Activity: Bring in a treat that your students would love, like fresh baked hot cookies. Put the cookies where the students can’t see them, and tell them there’s only enough for you. Bring out the treat and eat it in front of them. Make a big deal about how delicious it is, be very descriptive. Tell the students you are so sorry they don’t have one because they would really enjoy it. After a couple of minutes of this dialogue ask the students to raise their hands if they would like one, as you remember you have a few more. Give only a couple of students the treat. Ask them how they like it, etc. Ask the rest of the students how they feel at this point. Ask the students with the treat how they feel. Then ask the students how they would feel about the situation if they hadn’t had anything to eat in two days.
Lesson: (Questions for the students are in bold italics.) Read John 6:5-9. Why do you think the boy was willing to share his lunch? Do you think he realized he was the only one in over 5000 people who had brought food to eat? What did Andrew think of the boy’s gift? What did Jesus do with the gift? How do you think the boy might have felt as he realized what Jesus had done with his gift?
Read James 1:17, Romans 6:23 and Psalm 100:1-5. God loves us so much that He freely gives us many gifts. What do these verses tell us are some of the things God gives us? What other things are gifts to us from God?
Read Acts 20:35. If God has given us so very many gifts, what does this verse imply about what God wants us to do? In fact we know our giving is very important to God because Jesus and the New Testament writers wrote about giving a lot.
Jesus explained the importance of generous giving in the story of the rich young ruler. Read Matthew 19:16-30. Notice the first part of the story. What was the first thing that Jesus told the man he needed to do? Even though Jesus only mentioned a few of God’s commands under the Old Law one could assume that Jesus expected the man to try and keep all of God’s commands. The man claimed he did. Although, Jesus knew that probably knew that wasn’t entirely true, he chose to focus on the man’s heart. What did Jesus tell him e needed to do to “be perfect”? Jesus make it clear that if God asks us we should have hearts willing to generously give away everything we own. Later Jesus noticed a woman who had that generous heart. Read Luke 21:1-4. What were Jesus’ comments on what he observed? Notice it’s not the total amount given, but the attitude of the giver that is most important to God.
Read Acts 9:36-43. When we talk about people in the Bible with generous, giving hearts we need to look closely at the life of Tabitha/Dorcas. What did she give to the poor? It appears she gave her, talents and money (to buy the materials needed to make the clothes). Notice how the people reacted when she died. They started showing Peter evidence of how generous and giving she had been. What was Peter’s response? He asked God to raise her from the dead.
The Bible gives us a lot of directions about how we are to give.
- Cheerfully and from the heart – II Corinthians 9:7. How do you know if you are giving cheerfully and from the heart?
- Without calling attention to ourselves – Matthew 6:1-4. How can we give without calling attention to ourselves? Why does God care if we get a lot of attention for our giving?
- Give to do good and share what we have – I Timothy 6:17-19 and Hebrews 13:15-16. What is the difference between sharing what we have and sharing what we have left over or extra? Does God care? Why or why not?
- Give to serve one another – I Peter 4:10. Do you think this verse is only talking about money? What other gifts do we have that we can give to serve one another?
- Give to the poor – Matthew 5:42, Proverbs 19:17, Proverbs 14:31 and Proverbs 22:9. Why do you think it is important to God for us to help the poor? Is anyone too poor to give to someone else? What does the story of the widow’s mite, John 6:5-9, tell us about poverty and giving?
- Give to God – I Corinthians 16:1-2, Malachi 3:8-12. Many people mistakenly believe God requires us to give ten % of what we receive back to God. They base this on one offering that was required in the Old Testament, ten percent of they received to help support the Tabernacle/Temple and the priests. Actually, there were three types of offerings required amounting to between 19 and 27% of what they received. If you add the cost of sacrifices, the total amount is probably closed to one third of their income/crops/flock. The New Testament doesn’t give any percentages, but does talk a lot about generosity. How do you know if you are contributing “enough” money back to God and the Church? In addition to money, what other gifts have you been given that you can give back to God and the Church?
Skills Activity: Review the main points of the lesson Remind students that no matter how old they are, how much they own or how they got their money and things, God still expects them to give. Explain that often we think we have nothing to give because we have an attitude of scarcity. We believe if we give anything we have away, we may need or want it one day and no longer able to get it. Read Philippian 4. What does Paul want us to understand about our needs, our anxieties and our giving? Have the students complete the “Giving Worksheet”. Discuss the answers they are comfortable sharing. Are their clusters of material goods, talents and time? Have the students plan and execute a service project combining their assets. They can also ask others to help them with the project. (If they need ideas for possible service projects, the Teach One Reach One website has quite a few activity ideas. Look under the Service Project tab.) After the students complete the service project, spend some time allowing them to reflect on the experience. Have them share what they learned about generosity, giving and their own hearts during the project. Have them think about ways they can continue growing in this area.
Author: Thereasa Winnett