Summary: To love sincerely means that you will give sincerely not to man, but to God.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Text: 2 Corinthians 8: 1-9
This Sunday we complete our three part series on the Stories of Love. We began by examining the 3rd Chapter in the Song of Solomon. In the most intimate of language we realized that God’s love is all encompassing. It is agape, philos, and eros. It is intimate, exciting and enduring. Last week, we explored Psalm 97 and discovered that Love the Lord in practical sense means to Live the Lord. You rejoice in his power, you recognize his righteousness, and you remember his holiness.
This week Paul suggests to us that we are to Love Sincerely.
Henry Van Dyke says it this way:
“Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul?
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal;
While he who walks in love may wander far,
But God will bring him where the Blessed are.
The nature of God is to examine the sincerity of our love for him. That’s the essential story of the Lenten Season. Jesus demonstrating the sincerity of his love for the Father; when men where willing to bestow praise upon him, he would direct their attention to the Father which is in Heaven.
When people wanted to thank him for a miracle he had done, he would tell them over and over to not tell anyone. When telling a parable on what sincerity of love meant: he directed their attention to a widow who gave out of her poverty and he lifted up her giving as an example of righteousness. When confronted with the awful reality of the cross, he didn’t say a mumbling word.
We will walk with Jesus next month and discover that he sacrificed all to demonstrate the sincerity of his love for God and for us.
This dimension of love is truly love in action. You manifest the authenticity that you Love the Lord by living and giving. Loving sincerely means that you live and give!
Allow me to be pristine clear, giving is not determined by the amount of a gift, it’s not about money; giving is determined by one’s response to God’s grace. It is really a condition of the heart.
Matthew 6:19 and following says it like this:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Paul in both of his letters to the Church at Corinth is dealing with the authenticity and sincerity of their love for God.
To love sincerely you must first give yourself to the Lord. Paul uses a Greek verb, aideomai, which means to have respect for or to stand in awe of, in other words reverence. Loving Sincerely is a dimension of reverence.
One of our challenges is that we in our giving and loving we connect the sincerity of our love to our own sense of self-satisfaction.
The truth of the matter is that when you love sincerely it is a dimension of reverence. When you love sincerely your gift is really being given to God even though it may be given through some earthly channel or vessel.
If God is Love, and we are to love God completely, than all manifestations of our love must be sincere and must be to honor God.
That’s the test of loving and giving; why do you love and why do you give? If it is for some purpose other than to honor God than Paul is suggesting that you are missing the meaning of God’s grace.
Jesus, who was rich, became poor for our stakes so that out of his poverty we could become rich.
Loving sincerely is truly a dimension of reverence to God. It’s thanking him for his mercy and his grace – which is called unmerited favor.
Paul introduces us to another idea. The idea that loving and giving is connected to freedom; true freedom for Paul is only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who frees us from sin and death.
When we accept that Jesus Christ died for us, than Loving sincerely frees us up to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us in service of God.
Yesterday, we had the homegoing services for young Terrell Parks. The Sanctuary was full of young person between the ages of 20 – 30. As a part of the message, the people where asked to close their eyes and to search their hearts and to make the determination if they had truly accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. Over twenty young people raised their hands for us to pray with them that on this day they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Immediately there was a release of spontaneous applause that indicated that a burden they where carrying had been lifted and the joy of the congregation was real.