Sermons

Summary: In fellowship together we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our resources so that we can support each other. Jesus helps us fulfil this responsibility by enabling us to have the grace to be generous givers.

You can listen to the full message here:-

http://www.nec.org.au/listen-to-a-sermon-series/in-fellowship-together/

Message

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Being Stewards

Let’s start by reaffirming the close connection between being in fellowship together and being good stewards of our resources when we are in fellowship.

In the very early days of the early church

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

Acts 2:44-45

The fellowship together had an impact on the way people used their resources. There was a willingness, driven by being in united community, to financially support kingdom work.

1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

1 Corinthians 16:1-3

The church in Jerusalem was in need, the Gentiles churches were using their resources to makes sure there was support. Being in fellowship, and being stewards while in fellowship, is a responsibility we have.

So what methodology do we use to fulfil that responsibility?

Well … we turn to Scripture. As we do so we are going to allow our hearts … and our hands … and our wallets, and purses and direct debits … to be directed by Christ.

We do that by turning to 2 Corinthians 8:1-15.

What we see here is that Paul ties together a relationship with Jesus – knowing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 8:9) – and the impact that has on the way we use our resources.

Paul does this by firstly dispelling a common myth. That myth being that when you have more money you will become more generous. It’s not true.

Have a look at the table on the screen

(it is a snapshot of the World Giving Index located here:-

https://www.cafonline.org/about-us/publications/2018-publications/caf-world-giving-index-2018)

In terms of wealth:-

Indonesia is the 98th richest country

Kenya is ranked at 152.

Myanmar is 132.

So there is a myth which needs to be broken.

Breaking the Myth.

You need to have a lot of money to be a generous giver.

And I really love the way Paul goes about breaking the myth. He goes to the Corinthians, and takes them by the shoulder, and points them north towards Macedonia. And then he says, “Let me tell you what is happening up there”.

Look at what is happen in other places where people are in fellowship.

Those churches in Macedonian included Philippi, Thessalonica. These churches were extremely poor.

The Macedonian countryside had been decimated by civil wars. Now that the Romans were in control the government took over the gold and silver mines in Macedonia. They also taxed the copper and iron smelting industry. For the general population life was difficult.

But believers had even greater struggles. From the letter which Paul wrote to the Philippians and the Thessalonians we know that these churches were going through severe testing and they had to face a great deal of oppression.

We have heard of the saying, “hitting rock bottom” … well that is a good description of what has happened to the Macedonia believers.

Yet they act in a way which is totally contrary to their circumstances.

Paul has been travelling around the Gentile churches to raise finances for the believers in Jerusalem because that area of the land had been hit by a severe drought and believers in Jerusalem were starving.

When Paul came to the Macedonia churches he didn’t even ask them to make a contribution.

They were already so poor and had so little.

Paul couldn’t ask them to make any more sacrifices.

But Paul had underestimate them.

3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. (2 Corinthians 8:3-4)

They had heard about the offering. Without even being asked they wanted to give.

Urgently pleading … to give.

If I was to put up a blank sheet and with two columns

1) Reasons why I am urgently pleading to give.

2) Reasons why I cannot give.

Which column would fill up first? Would we even fill the first column?

We all understand the pressure. We live in an age when financial burdens on the family can be huge.

It is not cheap to have a house … even if you were to rent.

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