Message for 11th July 2021

2 Corinthians 8 & 9

1We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

3For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us…

 

6Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.

7But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you see that you excel in this act of grace also. 8I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.

 

9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor - so that you by his poverty might become rich.

 

10And in this matter I give my judgment: This benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it.

11So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.

12For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have

13For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness

14your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.

15As it is written,” Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack."

 

2 Corinthians 9 (The Message)

The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
The Cheerful Giver

6The point is this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 

7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion - for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

8AndGod is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9As it is written,

   "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
   his righteousness endures forever."

10He who supplies seed to the Sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

11You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

12For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God

13By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

 

Sermon: “Being Generous!”

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15

 

I wrote this short message on financial giving about a decade ago at another church. I have slightly changed it so that its truths can be presented to another church in another time. I hope it will prove helpful, challenging and encouraging. We need to face the reality of our giving which is absolutely central to our worship and our survival. I pray that the Lord will speak to you through this simple message.

___________________________________

 

There are some things it’s not polite to talk about: religion and politics are two examples. For the church it’s money. God knew this. That’s why there are about two thousand direct references to money in the Bible! Our message today centres on what we Baptists call Home Mission – that proportion of our own giving that we deliberately dedicate to other churches (perhaps struggling) in our Union.

 

We did not invent Home Mission. It is right here in Scripture – especially in the verses from Acts & 2 Corinthians, where Paul addressed the (difficult) question of the collection for the distressed church at Jerusalem – the mother church – which was very close to his heart.

 

Paul reminds the wealthy church at Corinth to see through on their promise to give to the church in need. (Home Mission)

 

Jesus called his disciples to a high standard of generosity/giving – he said it was more blessed to give than receive – he had more to say about giving to others than anyone else. He promised we would receive back (in time) much more than we gave.  (Luke 6:38)

 

Paul continued the work of Jesus.  Giving can be a joyful experience, even if the giver is very poor. Go and look at the “Widow’s mite” in Mark 12: 41-44. What about us? Do we enjoy giving our money, or do we begrudge it? Think about it. Be honest.

 

Paul (8:5) cites the Macedonians as a poor church who gave beyond their ability.  “We know we’re poor but we want to give; you can’t stop us giving! We want to serve the Lord in this way – no-one’s twisting our arm!”

 

It’s interesting that Paul reports they “gave themselves first to the Lord!”  Giving was something they did because they loved the Lord. Giving to the church was the same as giving to the Lord.

Notice, it was the Lord who gave them the heart to give cheerfully.  Giving is an act of grace – it’s every bit as significant as the graces (gifts) of faith, speech, knowledge, hard work (8:7).

 

In fact, Paul reminds them that this gift of giving would be a test of the sincerity of their love for God. Giving is linked to love of God.

 

The heart (Billy Graham said) is invisibly and inextricably linked to the cheque book!  We worry that we won’t have enough.  Well, that’s not true and it never has been. Because…

 

God loves a cheerful giver (2 Co 9:7):

 

The cheerful giver need never worry because she knows God will watch over her and provide for her needs:

God cares for the one who gives to others (The Macedonians knew this); the Psalmist taught that the giver would never go without.  (Psa 41: 1-3); Jesus taught this, too (Luke 12: 6-7).

If we give cheerfully (not grudgingly or sparingly or under compulsion) we are doing the will of the God who loves us.

 

God provides seed for the Sower, (v.6):

 

We should not read this verse as a “health & wealth” gospel. It doesn’t mean we will have more for our own consumption! (Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz!) It actually says that, having been adequately provided for (our needs met) we can use our plenty for every good work. We are not meant to hoard our goods in barns but to use the left over to help others.

“Every good work” suggests that giving is more than financial – we have our time and abilities to offer others – our prayers/hospitality – the gift you have is the gift you can share…this is part of what Paul meant by acceptable worship (Romans 12: 1-2).

 

And what about when we have more? What then? Verses 10 & 11 tell us: so, we can give even more! Perhaps not a though that we like very much!  The principle of the kingdom – the more we give to others in the service of God the more he will multiply his blessings to us and we will be all the more useful. (The principle of the loaves & fishes).

 

What an encouragement this is to give cheerfully and liberally!

God says, “I will bless you so that you can become a blessing to others!” (Home Mission)

That means, if I give from my substance, others will be helped. What I put on the collection plate or in the envelope will help keep the building open so that we can join together in worship, but it will also bless and help other lives. Don’t we want to do that? If not, we have a problem!

 

Giving brings Thanksgiving & Glory to God:

 

Those whose needs are met will thank God for meeting those needs and bring glory to God because of the grace of God which is at work in the lives of (us) givers. The people we help will be motivated to thank God and praise him for this proof that God is at work in their own - and in our lives…

 

And might it not be the case also for the not-yet Christians (and for all others) who will see the truth of what we teach by our example?

 

Perhaps we can make authentic the gospel by being a cheerful giver, by believing God provides (and then some!) and in so doing bring thanksgiving & glory to God in Christ Jesus. (Home Mission)

 

9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor - so that you by his poverty might become rich.

 

All this being said, can we afford not to be generous?

 

MFR

 

 


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