Summary: As Paul attempted to motivate the Corinthians to participate in the special collection for the poor in Judea, he taught them a number of principles for giving.
A. Good morning – Praise the Lord for another opportunity to worship the Lord and to love one another!
1. I hope that last week’s message about resurrection blessings was encouraging to you!
2. How wonderful to believe in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, and as a result to be filled with joy, hope and power!
B. Today, we want to return to our sermon series on Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.
1. We find ourselves at chapter 8, which is one of the best chapters in all the Bible about Christian giving.
2. As a matter of fact, chapters 8 and 9 are an extensive discussion of the principles of Christian giving as related to a special collection that Paul was engaged in.
3. We’ll have more to say about that special collection in just a minute.
C. Before we go any further, let’s point out that the subject of Christian giving is an important one.
1. Despite the fact that many want to shy away from talking about money and giving, it is a supremely important subject that must be addressed.
a. Jesus talked about money more than any other subject.
b. Of the 29 parables that Jesus told, 16 of them are related to money and its use.
c. 1 out of every 6 verses in the four gospels is devoted to money.
d. So it’s a subject that needs to be addressed as often as it comes up in the text.
2. And despite the fact that some churches do talk about it too much, or talk about it in ways that are detrimental and destructive, we must address the subject in a spiritual and faithful fashion.
D. Let’s look at a few cartoons that speak to some of our fears about giving and some of the stereotypes we have to battle against.
1. In this first cartoon, we have the ushers getting a pep-talk before taking the offering. The leader says, “If anyone leaves this church with any money still in their pockets, we failed.”
2. In this second cartoon the ushers are acting like bandits, “This is a stick up! No body moves until we get enough money to cover this week’s budget.”
3. With technological progress occurring, it won’t be long until we see some churches seating people according to their offering preferences. There will be rows for those giving by cash, check, credit card, or on-line donation. How about direct withdrawal?
4. Here’s one more: Two guys are stranded on a desert island. One guy says, “I’m afraid no one will ever find us.” The other guys says, “Don’t worry. I give 100 thousand dollars a year to my church. My pastor will find us.”
a. The way we handle the collection here at Wetzel Road, I don’t know how much people give, nor does anyone but a couple of people who are responsible for depositing the money and keeping records for the IRS.
b. So if you get stranded on a desert island, don’t hold your breath waiting for me to rescue you because of how much you give.
c. How much you give is between you and God.
E. Let me also mention, at this point, that I’m very proud of this congregation.
a. I’m not preaching this sermon this morning because we are in financial need, or because the church needs to be admonished for not giving as we should.
b. As long as I’ve known this congregation, we’ve been a people who support the work of the Lord with great consistency and generosity and joy.
c. Over the years, we have always risen to the occasion and supported the work of the Lord in a beautiful way.
d. Now that isn’t to say that none of us need to grow in this area.
e. Since none of us know how much money each other makes, nor how much we are giving, then the only ones who can evaluate how we are doing individually is God and me and God and you.
E. So, as always, let’s take these matters to heart and let’s dive into chapter 8 of 2 Corinthians and learn some things about excelling in the grace of giving.
1. As we study this chapter and chapter 9 next week, I hope we walk away with an understanding that giving is a blessed privilege, and that learning to excel in the grace of giving is the very best thing that can happen to us.
I. Understanding the Word
A. One of the major ministries of Paul’s third missionary journey was the taking up of a special “relief offering” for the poor Christians in Judea.
1. Paul had assisted in a similar offering back in Acts 11, but he was happy to do so again.