Summary: In our series on guidelines for grace-oriented giving, we shall notice in this sermon an example of grace-oriented giving.
For the next few weeks I plan to take a break from my sermon series in Romans. I want to preach a four-week series of sermons titled “Guidelines for Grace-Oriented Giving” from 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15. There are several reasons for talking about giving.
First, I want to refresh our commitment to Forward by Faith. We are coming up on the first anniversary of our Forward by Faith capital stewardship campaign. So, this is a good time to evaluate how we have done so far this first year, and to recommit ourselves to the remaining two years of the campaign.
I am very encouraged by your giving to Forward by Faith this past year. Although we have fallen off the pace towards our goal of $373,578, we have nevertheless collected a little over $95,000 in the first 10 months of the campaign. All of this money is over and above our regular giving to the General Fund.
That brings me to the second reason for talking about giving, and that is for us to make a pledge of commitment to the General Fund for this coming year. We have done this in the past, but without much emphasis on the pledge. It is my plan for us to make an intentional pledge of commitment to the General Fund, in much the same way we did to Forward by Faith last year.
When we talked with capital stewardship consultants a year ago they all said that giving to our General Fund would increase. Frankly, I was somewhat skeptical, although hopeful! I thought, “We are asking our church family to make a pledge to Forward by Faith in addition to their giving to the General Fund. I am just hoping that people will maintain their level of giving to the General Fund, and not rob Peter to pay Paul.”
Well, I am happy to report that giving to our General Fund increased this past year. Giving to the General Fund for the first 9 months of this year increased by just over 7%. Remember, this in addition to giving to Forward by Faith! And when we look at our total giving for the year so far in comparison with giving at the same time last year, our total giving is 33% higher. Isn’t that great?
So, for the next few weeks I want to examine God’s “Guidelines for Grace-Oriented Giving.” What is it that motivates and encourages people to give? How should Christians give? How much should God’s people give? It is my intention to answer these and other questions in the next few weeks.
We are going to be studying one of the most significant passages in Scripture that deals with giving. Paul gives us God’s “Guidelines for Grace-Oriented Giving” in 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15. It is an exciting passage.
Today, I want to look at “An Example of Grace-Oriented Giving.” Let’s read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5:
1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
As we begin our series on “Guidelines for Grace-Oriented Giving” some of you may be thinking, “Oh no! Not again! Here is another sermon about money! I wish the pastor would not talk about money.”
Now, in the past I have been reluctant to talk about money. But, in recent years I have come to see that this was a mistake.
It might surprise you to learn that Jesus said more about money than anyone else in the Bible. Furthermore, Jesus said more about money than any other single subject. Why is that?
Jesus talked more about money than any other single subject because money is a spotlight on a person’s spiritual condition. It is an index to a person’s character. It is a reflection of a person’s heart.
Jesus repeatedly linked money to one’s spiritual condition. I can point you to many stories, but let me share just one with you.
Every Sunday school child knows the story of Zacchaeus (in Luke 19:1-10). Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.
Zacchaeus wanted to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was a “wee little man” (as the Sunday school song says). So Zacchaeus ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Jesus, for he was about to pass that way.