Summary: A series looking at giving of our time, talents and money
Dead Sea Giving
April 7, 2013
The Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea for a reason: it's dead. This is because of its salt content. It is the saltiest body of water on the planet, nine times saltier than the ocean. It is so salty that no fish can live in it. It is so salty that sailboats don't sail on it — and this is a big body of water, 10 miles by 50 miles. You'll never see a wave runner skimming along the surface of the water. You will never see people building vacation homes on its banks. It's desolate.
The only people who like the saltiness of the Dead Sea are tourists to Israel. It's impossible to sink in water that is that salty. As you can see from these pictures, you can do a crossword puzzle or read a book in the Dead Sea and you don’t need a raft. Tour buses drive there, people put on swimsuits, and they go bobbing. Just don’t swallow the water!
What’s interesting about the Dead Sea is that there is fresh water continuously flowing into the Dead Sea. The Jordan River and several other streams feed into the Dead Sea. But the Dead Sea has no outlet. And because it has no outlet, the fresh water comes in and sits there idly, and the hot desert sun evaporates it all.
For the next few weeks, my hope is that we can help us to stay away from becoming a Dead Sea person. What's a Dead Sea person? This is a person who receives fresh blessings, fresh resources, fresh provisions from God on a regular basis, but has no outlet. Dead Sea people never channel any of those resources to other people in their lives. My hope is to challenge you to become a generous or more generous person. To become more like a river than a dead sea. Rivers take the water from upstream and channel it downstream. I'm going to challenge you to take the blessings you receive from God, and channel them downstream into the lives of other people.
We're going to take a look at a section of scripture from 2 Corinthians 8. The source of generosity is God. Our role model for generosity is Jesus Christ. Let’s see what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:7-9 ~
7 But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us — see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I'm not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
9 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.
Why does Paul say "For your sakes Jesus became poor?” Paul wants us to understand what Jesus did for us, and why we should be generous. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul explains ~
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
That's where it all began. Jesus was in heaven enjoying community with the Father and Spirit, and He chose to give that away so He could come and live here. Jesus not only left the perfect love, power and joy of heaven, but he also humbled Himself and became a servant. He also took on our nature and became a man, and lived a 33-year life as a Palestinian peasant, first as a humble carpenter and then as an itinerant Jewish rabbi. He healed people, taught God's word, and sought to transform the world.
Finally, He also humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross. Ultimately, Jesus laid down His life for you and I. He paid for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to.
Looking back at 2 Corinthians 8:9, notice Paul said, 9 so that you through His poverty might become rich. He did all this so that you could become rich. “Rich in what way?” Most importantly, spiritually rich. Rich in terms of a relationship with God. If Jesus ultimately hadn't given up his wealth by laying down his life at the Cross to pay for your sins, God would not have been able to offer you the gift of forgiveness. If Jesus hadn't laid down his riches on the Cross, God wouldn't be able to offer to you the opportunity to receive the gift of his salvation today — membership in His family with brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit living in you, an eternal home in heaven. These spiritual riches are yours through Jesus, who, in a sense, purchased them by discarding His heavenly status.