Don’t ever try and teach what you don’t know


God so loved the world that He gave … John 3:16

You’ve seen it in the end zone camera angle for field goal attempts, directly in the camera angle for right-handed batters, or underneath the basket on free throw attempts — some guy holding a sign that says “John 3:16.” It’s the most well-loved verse in evangelical Christianity, because it tells us what Jesus came to do and what we need to do to respond to it. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It’s the first verse that any kid in an evangelical church memorizes. The hope for the guy with the sign, of course, is that someone will see the sign, find out it’s a verse in the Bible, look it up, and get saved.

However, that’s not what we’re after from that verse this morning; we’re interested only in the first 8 words: “God so loved the world that He gave …” He gave. This is one of the most important aspects of the nature of God: He is a generous giver. It all starts with Him. He makes the first move.

I am starting one of the most difficult things I have ever done this morning. I am starting a series on giving. What’s so hard about that? I’m not a giver. I am breaking all the rules. I am proposing to write about and teach something I know next to nothing about. So how does one do that? You study. You become a fast learner. You attempt to stay one step ahead of yourself. Mostly, you open you heart and learn along with everyone else. You become a humble teacher.

Here’s the thing. I’m going to assume that you know more about this than I do, so I invite your input. Write me and tell me what you know about being a gracious giver. You teach me, too, and I’ll share it with everyone. We will learn together. I’m serious about this. Reply to this email, and tell me some stories about giving and learning to give.

This one thing I do know. It all starts with God. He is the Master Giver. He gave. He gives. He keeps on giving. Everything we have and will be comes from Him. He didn’t have to do any of this. He didn’t have to create the world and put us in it, watch us go astray, and pay the price to get us back. He didn’t have to give us His grace. But He did. He did because He wanted to. It’s His story all along. He is  the source of all good and perfect gifts.

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4 Responses to Don’t ever try and teach what you don’t know

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Looking forward to this too, because I’m also not a giver..

  2. Dan says:

    John – sorry, I am going to have to play the internet troll again. You are wrong, you know. If there is one thing that you and Marti do as a couple, it is give. You ruin yourself regularly with giving. You just don’t tithe to an institution, which is only one sort of giving. You don’t keep track of it, you don’t get tax benefits for it, you are foolishly lavish in your manner of doing it. Marti won’t just give, she will throw a red carpet event. I suggest you have a chat with Marti before your next post? your friend, Dan

  3. Sandie says:

    I know my comment is over a week behind – because Bobby and I were out of town celebrating our 47th anniversary…how appropriate that you posted this devotional on the exact date of our wedding anniversary! Aside from my relationship with Jesus, the majority of what I know about giving (and receiving) has been learned in the past half-century (OMG…how did I get this old!?)
    The major lesson? Marriage IS NOT A 50-50 deal! It’s an obligation of 100% for both of us – all the while knowing we will fall short…terribly short at times. We have learned to trust each other and depend that whoever has got their head screwed on straight during the crisis will pick up the slack. At times it’s not pretty, but then, neither is life. It’s raw and real and we have to determine to keep it that way – to keep it fresh…otherwise it will rot like the manna some foolishly tried to hoard away for the next day. You can’t live on yesterday’s blessings; they will grow stale and lose their life force. Thank you – and Marti – for keeping it real.

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