Summary: To be faithful in giving includes giving systematically, generously, cheerfully and expectantly.
A. The American industrialist, Henry Ford, was once asked to donate money for the construction of a new medical facility.
1. The billionaire made a pledge of $5,000.
2. The next day in the newspaper, the headline read, "Henry Ford contributes $50,000 to new hospital."
3. The irate Ford was on the phone immediately to complain to the fund-raiser that he had been misunderstood.
4. The fund-raiser replied that they would print a retraction in the paper the following day to read, "Henry Ford reduces his donation by $45,000."
5. Realizing the poor publicity that would result, the industrialist agreed to make the $50,000 contribution under one condition.
6. That above the entrance to the hospital was to be carved the biblical inscription: "I came among you and you took me in." (Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994, pp. 1-2.)
B. Ford truly had been taken in, which is an experience that should never happen in the context of Christian giving.
1. No one should ever feel like they are being manipulated or arm-twisted.
2. Unfortunately, many worldly tactics have been used over the years to increase church donations.
3. Many ministers have stood in pulpits and said erroneous and horrendous things in order to increase what goes in the collection plate.
4. I hope and pray that that is something that never happens in this pulpit by me or by anyone else.
C. Giving is a very important and spiritual subject that needs to be addressed often and unapologetically.
1. Why? First, Because the God’s word speaks often about the subject of stewardship and giving.
a. Research shows that there are 2,350 passages in the Bible dealing with money and material possessions. That’s more than on any other subject.
b. Jesus talked about the proper approach to money and things more than any other subject – even more than heaven, hell or loving our neighbor.
c. Some of Jesus’ greatest statements are about money. Like, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21), or “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
2. But that’s not the only reason giving should be addressed often and unapologetically. Another reason is that faithfulness in giving generously transforms people.
a. When we learn to release our grip on the things of this world, we become liberated from all kinds of bondage and snares.
b. Paul warned about this in his first letter to Timothy. He wrote, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:9-10)
3. Let me add one more reason to address the subject of giving: Giving is the path to blessing.
a. It is the path to blessing for ourselves, the church and the world.
b. It is one of the best ways for God to be praised and receive glory.
4. Well, with that said, by way of introduction, let’s turn our attention to 2 Corinthians 9.
I. Paul’s Approach
A. At the end of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 16, he told them of his intentions to take up a collection for God’s needy people living in Judea.
1. So, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to begin putting aside money on a weekly basis, so that when he came through Corinth, he could pick it up and take it to Jerusalem.
2. It appears that they were very excited about participating in this collection and pledged to give very generously.
3. 2 Corinthians 8:10ff reads, “And 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. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it will be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:10-12)
B. Paul begins chapter 9 saying that he shouldn’t have to remind them about their pledge to contribute to this collection, but he is going to do so anyhow.
1. “There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.”