Summary: How can we learn to be generous givers.
Do you remember 1972? Why 1972? That’s when I went to high school. A gallon of gas cost 36¢. A gallon of milk cost $1.20. By the time I graduated high school, the cost of gasoline increased an astronomical 64%, to 59¢ per gallon. Imagine, that? Milk had risen 37%, to $1.65 a gallon. Stamps were 13¢.
I remember when my mom would plan her shopping excursions. We had two grocery stores within walking distance, and my mom was a walker. But, when there were eggs on sale at another store, my dad would have to drive her, they got in the car to go and buy one dozen eggs because they were on sale for 50¢.
My, how times have changed. We won’t go and drive a long distance to save a few pennies on a dozen eggs, and maybe not even to save a nickel for a gallon of gas. Our time is precious . . . yet so is our money. So, how do we balance the two? What are we supposed to do with our money? In fact, what does God tell us to do with our money? For the next couple of weeks we’re going to look at what God calls us to do with our money and time, because time is money and money is time, right? Right!
Now, most pastors don’t like to talk about money. It’s not something you talk about at parties or social gatherings. It’s like telling someone their breath stinks; or they have lettuce on their teeth, or the meal they prepared is uneatable. Yet, God demands that we talk about money, giving and possessions.
I read an interesting statistic concerning the frequency of certain themes in the Bible.
Believing is mentioned 272 times
Prayer is mentioned 371 times
Love is mentioned 714 times
But . . . Giving and possessions are mentioned 2,162 times!
o 3 times more than love,
o 7 times more than prayer,
o 8 times more than believing
Evidently, God wants us to be givers! So, instead of apologizing for bringing up money and giving, I should probably apologize for preaching on it so seldom! My intent is to challenge us about what God says about giving, possessions and our money.
So, let’s dig into what Paul was talking about in this section of his letter to the Corinthian church.
2 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 (A-CHAI - YA) were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
3 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.
4 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.
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
The Corinthian church heard about the opportunity to give to the poor in Jerusalem, and they reacted with great enthusiasm at the chance to give their money to this church. They weren’t required to do this and they weren’t manipulated into offering a generous gift. They simply believed this is what they were supposed to do.
When Paul traveled to other cities, he would speak of the generous response of the Corinthians, and their commitment to sacrificial giving, and more. Paul wanted to make sure two things didn’t happen ~
● He didn’t want the Corinthians to drop the ball and not send the offering to the Jerusalem church. He didn’t want the church and himself to be disappointed if they didn’t follow through.
● Secondly, he wanted the Corinthians to be prepared. Paul didn’t want the believers from Macedonia to come to the church and learn that all of his boasting was for naught, that they dropped the ball on that end.