Summary: Paul’s part two on giving where from promises to preparation to participation to prayers and praises, God is glorified and we are blessed!
God Grants Grace in Giving
I saw a single frame cartoon once that had two men standing outside after church services. They were standing there in their underwear and one says to the other: “That was the best sermon on giving I ever heard!”
Today we will see part two of Paul’s message to the Corinthians on giving. I’ve divided the chapter into three sections and entitled each section with a sentence with lots of “P’s.”
1. Prepare and Perform on Previous Promises
9:1 Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you;
2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.
3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready;
4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting.
5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
Remember Ananias and Sappharia? The Bible tells us about them in Acts 5. They seem to have made a promise to give the proceeds of a sale of land to the church. Perhaps the land sold for more than they expected, or they changed their minds, but they kept back some of the money and with his wife’s full knowledge Ananias brought the rest to the church and gave it as if it were the full amount promised. Peter speaks to Ananias and asks him, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.” And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it. Later Sapphira came in and the same thing happened to her when she lied. The moral of the story? Don’t play games and make false promises to God. He will hold you to it.
These Corinthians have made promises about an offering a year earlier. Paul has told others about their plans and boasted about the zeal that they showed. That was last year. Now the fire of their zeal is at least in question and Paul wants to see them finish what they started.
Have you made any promises that you are struggling to keep? How many here have been baptized? Did you know that you made a promise to God in that act of faith? God made some promises to you then too. You entered into a covenant with Jesus Christ, through his blood by his act of sacrifice and by your act of faith. The name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were invoked upon this spiritual rite of passage into the kingdom of God. You confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and called upon the name of the Lord. You were buried and raised in the name of Jesus. This was not a mere symbolic religious expression. This was a divine and human agreement enacted in water and blood. How is it going in your relationship with Jesus these days? God takes very seriously his promises to us. But listen to me now, He also takes very seriously our promises to him.
Eccles. 5:4 When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it, for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake.
How many here are married? Did you make any promises before God in your marriage? God expects us to keep our promises. Marriage as an institution made by God is not to be entered into lightly. The Old Testament warns: Mal. 2: 13 "And this is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand.