Summary: Sermon about giving
Our Attitudes and Our Assets
Key Verse (5)
Introduction: And the Bible has an awful lot to say about money, and so while it may not be the most comfortable of topics it is a very necessary topic, and so even though I am not an expert nor claim to be the best of examples of all that is in this book, I do have a responsibility to address those topics that are in it.
• Allow me to set up the text before we read it. The church in Jerusalem has fallen into a condition of extreme poverty, so Paul set up a collection that would take place with the churches that he founded to help the poorer Christians in Jerusalem. At first, the Corinthian Christians had provided funds which they had promised but now their enthusiasm seems to have waned. It is into this situation that Paul is now writing. In 2 Corinthians 8:1 – 12 (read text)
• Paul uses the example of the Macedonian church as a model for the Corinthians to imitate and I want to look a little more in depth at that example, but before I do I first want to pull out a couple of important principles that Paul makes about a person’s attitude towards giving that will help us in understanding the Macedonian example a bit better.
• Listen again to what Paul says in verse 8 “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.”
• The point that Paul is making is that your giving is a true reflection of the sincerity of your faith.
• Friends what you truly believe you support. And one of the predominant ways we support something is with our finances. Friends, if you were to look at your spending habits over the last month, what would it reveal about your values?
• If someone who didn’t know you looked at the breakdown would they say about you, “Wow, these people really take their faith seriously.”
• I also want to suggest that your attitude towards giving is not only a reflection of the sincerity of your faith it is also a reflection of the depth of your experience of God’s love.
• You see, Paul says that all giving is really just a following after the example of Jesus, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
• One time when Jesus was teaching He said that “the person who has been forgiven little, love little.” His point was not that there are some people who are more needing of forgiveness than others, it is only that some are more acutely aware than others, and because they are aware of their need they are exceedingly grateful when they are forgiven and it wells up in great expressions of love.
• Friends, what do your giving habits tell about your gratefulness, and the depth of your experience of God’s love for you? If it suggests a shallow experience, may I propose the remedy is not to give more, the remedy is a deeper walk with God who will then motivate and change your heart.
• One last principle that I want to draw out before looking at the example of the Macedonian church, in verse 11 Paul encourages them, “Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”
• You see Paul is saying that their real attitude towards giving is not validated by their feelings of good will, nor is it validates by the amount of money they give, it is validated by the act of giving itself.
• When your heart is moved to give, do you give? Is that your habit? When you feel a compulsion to give, do you make the effort required so that it translates into real action? The point is less that you feel bad for the AIDS orphans in Africa, its more about does that feeling bad translate into any real and tangible action on your part.
• You see the case that Paul has built in all of this is that our giving habits reveal our true attitudes towards our faith in relationship to our wealth.
• Our giving habits reveal if the substance of our faith has penetrated the grip of materialism that seeks to keep human hearts in bondage.
• And consequentially the way we give has the potential to communicate the Gospel.