Summary: Third Sunday of End Time(WWIID #3) - When people examine their offerings they discover that Jesus’ gospel motivates believers to react generously.
EXAMINE YOUR OFFERINGS
2 Corinthians 8:8--12 November 17, 2002
8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For 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.
10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
All of us would agree that the times have changed. Sometimes the changes over the years are drastic and dramatic and it’s easy to see those things that have changed. At other times the changing of the times is almost imperceptible. I would venture to say, from Old Testament times to our times today, the attitude of mankind has changed from one of selflessness to selfishness. That has taken time. Generation after generation has become more and more concerned about themselves instead of people around them. This is the world in which we live.
A good example—when Moses was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, he realized that they needed a place to worship. He asked for donations to build the tabernacle. As they took the tabernacle with them on their journeys, they could come there and better focus their attention on worship. Moses asked the leaders who were heading this project how it was going. The leaders said to Moses, ‘you know, we have too much. The people have brought too much, more than enough, for the work that we needs to be done.’ Then Moses said, ‘We can’t ask them for any more.’ "And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work"(EXODUS 36:6b, 7). Imagine that!! A church leader saying, ‘No more money! No more gifts! We have too much!’ We see how that attitude of selflessness has shifted to quite a bit of selfishness in our times.
This morning as we look at these words of 2 Corinthians, the Lord reminds us to
EXAMINE YOUR OFFERINGS
I. Jesus’ gospel motivates
II. Believers react generously
I. Jesus’ gospel motivates
The letter here that Paul wrote was one to encourage the Christians because they had taken up a special collection. Remember, the Apostle Paul made missionary journeys—one was shaped like a fishhook. He was visiting those churches again. Since the last time he had visited them, these believers had heard about a famine in Jerusalem. They took it upon themselves to help the believers in Jerusalem by taking up a special offering. Paul hadn’t asked for it, the believers in Jerusalem hadn’t asked for it; they did it on their own because of their generous, selfless spirit.
Paul says to them in the beginning of our text: 8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. As you read that and hear that, you might think that Paul is putting them to the test. He wants to compare them. As we look at it more closely, Paul is not saying he is going to send Titus over there to make sure all the collection is made; he isn’t going to make them feel guilty if they haven’t met their goal. The key phrase here is ‘sincerity of love.’ In other words, he is asking how the offering is going. Was the collection coming to an end, were they gathering enough money for their goal or not? Paul says that all of this happens because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Then come the familiar words of verse nine…9For 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. As he spells that out for these believers, they were reminded again in their hearts, why they were so generous. They were reminded again in their hearts why they were taking up this collection for people they did not even know, people they had never met. It was because Christ gave up everything for them.
If we want to take one thing home today, we should take this verse home with us, work on it during the week, and learn it for ourselves. This is our motivation in all the things we do, all the things that we say. Christ Jesus who was rich became poor, so that you and I might become rich. That is God’s grace to us. We don’t deserve to be rich, we don’t deserve to be blessed with the gifts of eternal life, but we are. God has given them to us (these gifts) through His Son—forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Paul says in Romans: "There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus"(ROMANS 3:23,24). We need to hear that—we are sinners.