Summary: In today’s sermon, the last of four messages in the series on guidelines for grace-oriented giving, we see the underlying principle of all giving as well as five benefits of grace-oriented giving.
Today is the last in my four-week series of sermons titled, “Guidelines for Grace-Oriented Giving” from 2 Corinthians 8-9.
Today, I want to look at “An Encouragement to Grace-Oriented Giving” from 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Let’s read it:
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God 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. 9 As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”
10 He 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. 11 You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By 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, 14 while 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! (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
In his book titled Charismatic Chaos pastor and author John MacArthur tells about one of the most unusual legacies of World War II, which has been the “cargo cults” of the South Pacific. Many aboriginal island peoples ranging from north Australia to Indonesia were first exposed to modern civilization through the Allied armed forces during the war. The American military in particular often used the remote islands that dot that part of the globe as sites for temporary landing strips and supply depots.
White men came bearing cargo; then they left as quickly as they had come. The tribal people had no time to learn the ways of civilization. But for a brief time they saw high technology—such as it was in the 1940s—up close. Cargo planes would swoop from the sky, land, leave their payload, then take off. Island natives saw cigarette lighters produce fire instantly and believed it to be miraculous. They saw large machinery push aside whole forests to build airstrips. They saw for the first time jeeps, modern weaponry, refrigerators, radios, power tools, and many varieties of food. They were fascinated by all of that and many concluded that the white men must be gods.
When the war was over and the armies were gone, tribesmen built shrines to the cargo gods. Their tabernacles were perfect replicas of cargo planes, control towers, and airplane hangars—all made of bamboo and woven material. These structures all looked exactly like the real thing, but they were nonfunctional except for their use as temples to the cargo gods.
On some of the more remote islands, the cargo cults still thrive today. Some have personified all Americans in one deity they call “Tom Navy.” They pray for holy cargo from every airplane that flies overhead. They venerate religious relics—such as Zippo lighters, cameras, eyeglasses, ballpoint pens, nuts and bolts, and so on. As civilization has begun to penetrate some of these cultures, their fascination for cargo has not diminished. Missionaries who have been sent to areas where cargo cults have flourished receive a warm reception at first. The cargo cultists are looking for cargo, not the gospel, and missionaries have then found it very difficult to penetrate the materialism that is the very essence of the islanders’ religion.
In recent years the charismatic movement has spawned its own variety of cargo cult. The Word Faith movement, known otherwise as the Faith movement—or Word, Faith-Formula, Word of Faith, Hyper-Faith, Positive Confession, Name It and Claim It, or Health, Wealth, and Prosperity teaching—is a subdivision of the charismatic movement and is every bit as superstitious and materialistic as the cargo cults in the South Pacific. The leaders of the Faith movement promise each believer financial prosperity and perfect health. Anything less, they argue, is not God’s will.
These greed-driven heresies are popular because they promise what virtually every false religion in the world offers, namely, that God gives us what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. Virtually every false religion offers a god who provides us with cargo. And the cargo is provided for our own self-indulgence, personal pleasure, and individual satisfaction.
But our God does not work that way. He is certainly concerned about our material and physical needs. And he has promised to provide them to us.