Summary: In the Corinthian letters, Paul gave 5 reasons Christians should give.
Stewardship Series Part 1
The Grace of Giving
SCRIPTURE READING: II Corinthians 8:1-7
I read an interesting Biblical statistic the other day concerning the frequency of certain words used in the Bible. It seems that…
Believing is mentioned 272 times in the Bible
Prayer is mentioned 371 times in the Bible
Love is mentioned 714 times in the Bible
But Giving is 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! Rather than apologize for bringing up stewardship, I should probably apologize for preaching on it so seldom! But my opportunity has arrived because we are between our Pueblo- related Bible themes. My intent this Sunday and next is to challenge growing Christians to incorporate, what the Apostle Paul calls “the grace of giving” into our lives.
Paul wrote Just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” II Corinthians 8:7
These words were written to the Corinthian church. Paul was giving details about a special offering they had pledged to support. The offering was to go from the “daughter” churches in Asia to the “mother” church in Jerusalem. The offering was desperately needed because the Christians in Jerusalem were suffering terrible persecution and hardship.
That is why Paul urged the Corinthian church to excel in the grace of giving. Grace can be defined as: pleasure, favor, beauty, kindly action, thankfulness, and spontaneous generosity. Grace is always freely given – the opposite of paying a debt. You may be aware of the fact that “grace” in the Greek language is “charis.” (…This is easy for me to remember because I have a niece named Charis…) Charis is the root of the English term “charisma.”
The Apostle Paul was full of personal charisma, but he was also a man of intellect and logic. So he proceeds to give rational arguments for why we should practice the Grace of Giving. First he urges us to FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE SET BY OTHERS.
1. Follow the example of others II Corinthians 8:1-7
Paul held the Church of Macedonia up as an example of the Grace of Giving. The Macedonians were going thorough their own tough times, so initially Paul had not even asked them to contribute. But they caught wind of it and begged to be included. Paul describes it this way:
2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. II Corinthians 8:2-5
What a shining example of the Grace of Giving! Paul knew that the enthusiastic giving of one person will stir others into action. It’s a funny thing about giving. Sometimes, the only thing needed is inspiration. Last year, we completely funded Vacation Bible School through a bake sale. It was an auction led by none other than our own Janet Arnold. Things started slow, but it wasn’t long before the generosity of some was caught by everyone. Before long the whole room broke out in a frenzy to out-bid the others on high-carb treats. (Now you could call this out-of-control gluttony I guess, but I prefer to think of it as overflowing generosity!)
Paul understood the contagious nature of generosity when he told the Corinthians about the example of the Macedonians. The fact was, some time had passed since the Corinthians started collecting their offering. The enthusiasm of the Corinthians was fading. Some people had forgotten all about the offering. But hearing that the poor Macedonians had given as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability was a wake-up call. The Corinthians needed to finish what they had started.
I want to remind you of a similar event in the life of our church. We, too, have a task to finish. More than 5 years back members of Castle Hills Christian Church pledged funds for a New Worship Center. Many of you participated in those pledges. But others of you are new here. We want you to know the background of this project.
It was a bold task for us to undertake. We raised more than Half a Million Dollars before we ever broke ground, and by the end of the project it was only necessary to borrow about $420 thousand to finish the building. In the 26 months since the building was completed your generosity has whittled almost $100 thousand off of that note --- which stands at only $324 thousand.