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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Start:Stop - A grateful heart

Bible reading

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 11)


The City of London is a place where London’s spirit of enterprise is distilled to the maximum. It was in the City that many forms of charitable activity originated or evolved into business models for others to follow. Making money and giving money are both features of life in the City. What does the Bible say about the way we should use the money we make?

Instead of giving grudgingly, the Bible encourages generosity and cheerfulness in giving. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, ‘Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ Gratitude is the first fruit of humility and is a response to the forgiveness, freedom, healing and restoration which we find in God. We are precious to him, honoured and loved by him, so give out of thankfulness for this acceptance and love.

Giving to our church is a tangible, faithful, and accountable way in which we demonstrate our gratitude to God. Of course our lives haven’t in every way turned out how we wanted them to; but God has given us life. Of course the church isn’t perfect; but God has given us Jesus, and forgiveness, and the life everlasting. Of course there are lots of other good causes; but giving to the church is about investing in forever, in striving to live now the companionship God has promised us always.

The Elizabethan poet George Herbert was aware of our natural tendency to think what God has given to us as being ours and to retain as much of it for ourselves as possible. His prayer, therefore, was that he might be given a grateful heart. One that rejoices in all that God has given, recognising it all as a gift, rather than something earnt, and, therefore, generous in the way it is used and given back to God. May our prayer be that of George Herbert:

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart …
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

Give one thing more, a grateful heart. That’s the prayer for our Stewardship campaign this year. This autumn we are encouraging all those who come to St Stephen to reflect on the various ways in which we can use their time, talents and treasure in God’s service. Each of us can give from our treasure in ways that benefit others and our Stewardship leaflet explains how to give regularly and consistently to St Stephen, so I encourage you to reflect on whether you could give regularly out of gratitude and to help this church.


All generous God, you poured yourself out in creation, were totally spent in Christ’s death on the
cross, and continue to give yourself through the gift of your Holy Spirit to us. Give us generous hearts; that, in response to your love, our lives may overflow in thanksgiving and generosity, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart.

God our Father, make us to think more of what we can give to life and less of what we can get out
of it. May we be mindful that we hold our gifts, our talents, our possessions, our life itself, in trust for you and the service of mankind. Save us from thinking only of our own needs and desires; and help us to remember that it is more blessed to give than receive, according to the teaching of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart.

Almighty God our Father, we belong to you. All that we have comes from you: our family and friends, our health and life, our possessions and energy, our leisure and abilities. Help us to share in the blessing of giving as well as the happiness of receiving.

Thou that hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart.


Lord God, you created this world and all that is good in it. You allowed us our freedom, and entrusted us with great responsibility. All of what we are, all of our concerns, and the unique ability we each have to help those around us come from You. Bless us, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we strive to transform the earth through love, word, and deed. Amen.


The Voices Of East Harlem - Giving Love.

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