Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to encourage faith and to encourage continued faithfulness in the grace of giving.
"Happy Heaping Handfuls"
2 Cor. 9:7
"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Several months ago when I preached on tithing I determined in my heart to preach more faithfully the theme of giving. To pay more attention from the pulpit to what the Bible says in regards to our finances and our worship of God.
I am pleased to report to you that I am not coming to you with an appeal for an urgent financial need. Our books are in the black, our bills are paid, and we have a little in the bank.
The purpose of this sermon is to bless you and to encourage your faith and to encourage you to continue to be faithful in the grace of giving.
The Bible says, "God loves a cheerful giver." The word used here for cheerful is the word that gives us our word hilarious.
So I’ve entitled my sermon this morning, "Happy Heaping Handfuls." I get this from all the references to generous and bountiful giving in these two chapters. Scan over these two chapters with me as a quick refresher on this point.
8:2 the words, "overflowing, ...welled up, ...rich generosity"
v:3 "they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability."
v:4 "they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints."
v:11 your eager willingness
9:2 I know your eagerness to help, ...you ... were ready to give; and your enthusiasm...
v:5 the words "generous gift" are used twice to describe their offering
v:6 whoever sows generously will also reap generously
v:11 so that you can be generous on every occasion, ... your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
v:12 This service that you perform is ... overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God."
v:13 "your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else."
v:14 "the surpassing grace God has given you." ("The grace of giving." - 8:7)
In the margin of my Bible I have written descriptive phrases and summary expressions beside these verses.
One-liners and notes like:
8:3"They gave when they couldn’t afford to give." (They must have reasoned we can’t afford not to give.")
8:4"They pleaded for the privilege of sharing." ("please don’t rob us of the privilege.")
8:7"Giving is an act of grace." (How graceful are we when measured by our gifts?)
"Don’t fall behind in giving." ("Excel in this grace of giving."8:7)
8:8"Giving is a test of sincerity." (Are you sincere when you say, "Something should be done."?)
8:11"Finish what you started."
8:12"Give what you have... God judges not only by what you give but also by what you have left." (What you hold on to may say as much as what you give.)
9:2"Eager to give."
"Ready, ... enthusiastic giving!"
"Grudgingly giving." :-(
9:7"Giving deliberately, thoughtfully."
"Forced giving." (Compulsory.)
"Giving that abounds."
9:9"Liberal scattering of gifts." (Random acts of kindness.)
9:10-11"You will be given to so you may give -"
9:11"Always generous in giving." (That kind of giving results in thanksgiving.)
"Generous giving to all."
9:14"Surpassing grace." (In reference to "the grace of giving" in 8:7.)
These are just my notes on Paul’s comments about the Corinthians’ gifts. Even a casual reading of these two chapters will tell you the Corinthians were givers. They gave by the fist-full and loved doing it! That’s why I use the title "Happy Heaping Handfuls."
Now I want to draw some applications from these chapters - especially chapter 8, verse 7. The last part of that verse says, "God loves a cheerful giver." (One preacher added, "But He’ll also take it from a grouch.")
Let me talk to you first about "happy handfuls." We have often heard the expression and have even been invited to "give until it hurts." But I don’t believe that way. Oh, I believe we should give until we can feel it. David said, "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." (2 Sam. 24:24)
I just don’t believe it hurts to give.
Having said that let me remind you that when the Church was first getting started, some of the Christians sold their lands and gave the money to help the poor. Acts says, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." (2:44-45) And, "There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (4:34-35) Some have read those passages and have jumped to the conclusion that these people acted unwisely and literally gave themselves out of house and home. Then they make a further leap and assume that these are the same people Paul has in mind when he refers to "the poor saints which are at Jerusalem." (Rom.15:26) (There’s a phrase that flies in the face of heretical prosperity teaching! "Poor saints!")