Summary: True giving never hurts, true giving heals.
“Dear Wakelee Church…Sincerely, Paul”
The Corinthian Connection Series
“Giving Until It Heals” ~ II Corinthians 8-9
Wakelee Church ~ July 11, 2004
(All verses are New King James Version unless otherwise noted. Underlines added for emphasis.)
(This sermon is based on a sermon given by Bishop Blake (United Methodist OK area Bishop)at the 2004 General Conference.)
THEME: TRUE GIVING NEVER HURTS, TRUE GIVING HEALS.
The Ponca Indian tribe has an interesting tradition. When a loved one dies, the family and friends meet to share with one another. They share not in the form of words, but in the form of giving. Now you may think this not too interesting until you hear who does the sharing.
You see, thousands of dollars of gifts are give to members of the tribe and friends. If people need food, the family gives them food. If others need household supplies, the family gives them a basket of supplies. Others are give personal items from the deceased, like blankets and shawls.
Instead of friends giving to the bereaved….the bereaved family gives to others.
And even one year later, the family and friends get together again and the “giveaway” continues.
When asked about this custom a granddaughter of a chief simply said, “We believe you can accept death better by giving rather than getting.”
Instead of giving until it hurt, this custom emphasized that one should give until it heals.
As Paul continued this second letter to the Corinthian church, he needed to give the church an opportunity to heal itself by giving to others. This is a message so different than what we normally hear.
Paul didn’t guilt the church into giving…he told them that they need not give grudgingly or out of necessity…he told them that their faith showed in their giving…and that giving was much more of a Spiritual thing than a physical. Paul told them that they had an opportunity to assist in their own healing by giving.
“Giving until it heals is far more biblical than giving until it hurts. Giving until it hurts turns giving into a negative experience. It is demeaning and painful. But in the New Testament, giving is never presented in such a painful manner.” (source: Bishop Blake, from the Oklahoma Conference of the U.M.C. –General Conf. 2004)
“God loves a cheerful giver…” does not mean give until it hurts.
“Freely receive and freely give…” does not express the idea of giving until it hurts.
“Joy to the world…” does not fulfill the commitment to give until it hurts.
Wasn’t it Jesus, himself, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ?
True giving, biblical, new testament giving, should never hurt, true giving heals.
This morning we’re going to look at four connections that Paul gave the church at Corinth, and indeed to us today, that backs up that fact.
I. Connection: We should challenge ourselves to give not for the cause or the program, instead we give because we have been for-given!
At the very heart of the gospel is the experience of forgiveness. We all fall short of God’s calling. We all miss the mark of faithful discipleship. However, God is a god whose standards are never lowered but whose children are always forgiven.
Forgiveness, the good news revealed in Jesus Christ, thrusts us into the future free from the barnacles of our past. As a consequence, we in turn forgive and “give for” others. We give until it heals not because of we’re convinced of a good cause, but because we have the internal need to give because we have been forgiven.
Paul had gone to the church at Macedonia before coming to Corinth. He was surprised that this congregation, poorer than most of the churches, exceeded Paul’s expectations in their giving for the work being done in Jerusalem.
Instead of giving until it hurt, the Macedonians gave until it healed. Note the verse on your sheets. Paul said that he could testify that they first gave themselves to the Lord and then to the Lord’s will on their lives.
[“For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” - II Corinthians 8:3-5]
Could it be that we have loaded down Christian giving with so many negative meanings that what is intended to be the positive, freeing, joyous experience of discipleship has become so negative that we shy away from the addressing it all together?
We should challenge ourselves, not by guilting one another or shaming ourselves for this program or cause, but to give because we have been forgiven.