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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