Summary: Is giving for the Lord’s work a struggle? Take to heart what Paul says as he points us to God’s grace in Christ and changes the way we think about giving. Parts: A. Give yourself to your gracious Lord. B. Trust his grace with an undivided heart
Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13, 14
Theme: Our Giving Overflows from God’s Grace
A. Give yourself to your gracious Lord
B. Trust his grace with an undivided heart
Season: Pentecost 6b
Date: July 12, 2009
Web page: www.caughtbyjesus.net/sermons/Our-Giving-Overflows-from-God_s-Grace-2Corinthians8_1-9,13,14.html
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit open our hearts to live for Jesus 1 Corinthians 8.
"We want you to know, brothers, God’s grace, which has been given among the Macedonian churches, namely, that in great trial the overflow of their joy and their down-in-the-depths poverty overflowed into the riches of their single-mindedness. For according to their ability, I testify, and beyond their ability, on their own, with great urgency they asked us for this grace and this sharing in the service to the saints -- and not [merely] as we had hoped but they first gave themselves to the Lord and us through God’s will. So we urged Titus that just as he first began so also he complete among you also this grace. Now as you overflow in everything, in faith and doctrine and knowledge and all eagerness and love from you to us, also overflow in this grace.
"I’m not speaking this as an order, but through the eagerness of others to prove the genuineness of your love too. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, namely, that for you he, being rich, became poor, so that you may become rich by his poverty . . . For it’s not to bring others comfort and you affliction, but from equality. In the present time your excess meets their need, in order that also their excess may meet your need, so that it may be equal." (1 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13, 14)
Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:
1. Why was the Apostle Paul gathering a collection for the Jerusalem Christians?
Jerusalem, the Jewish capitol, the birthplace of the Christian church on Pentecost. In the Apostle Paul’s day, though, many Christians in Jerusalem struggled. Following Jesus instead of the Jewish leaders brought crosses. The help and aid that flowed to widows and the poor from the Jewish relief rolls was cut off, in appears, for followers of Jesus.
At first it doesn’t seem to have been too bad. Wealthy Jews had also become Christians. In brotherly love, they shared what they had. Widows were provided for. The poor had enough. But persecution not only scattered the Christians; it also seems to have taken away whatever wealth was among them in Jerusalem. So even when persecution died down, the Christian there struggled to strive, especially in times of famine or other crises.
So Paul gathered a collection for them among the Gentile churches in Galatia, and in northern Greece, called Macedonia, and in southern Greece, were Corinth was. Just as the Gospel had gone out from Jerusalem making these Gentiles spiritual rich in Christ, so now these Gentile Christians shared their material wealth to help their fellow saints in Jerusalem.
The Christian’s in Corinth eagerly began contributing. They were among the first a year ago to have the desire to do so. But problems prevented them from fully putting this desire into practice. Divisions tore the congregation. Christians took each other to court, open sin was boasted about, the Lord’s Supper degenerated into a selfish feast, and there were more problems. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians to address these problems, and they took his words to heart. But in the meantime gathering the offering for their fellow saints in Jerusalem had fallen off.
So now in 2 Corinthians Paul writes to them again and in chapters 8 and 9 urges them to turn their attention again to this offering. He doesn’t use the latest marketing techniques or the insights of social science and psychology on how to motivate givers. Rather he talks about God’s grace -- God’s grace at work among the Macedonia Christians that overflowed in their giving, God’s grace in Christ that enriched the Corinthian Christians. God’s grace. For you see, Christian giving overflows from God’s grace.
That’s as true today as it was in Paul’s day. Our giving overflows from God’s grace. That’s the theme to keep in mind, dear friends. Christian giving, our giving overflows from God’s grace. Therefore, before any money leaves your wallet or purse, give yourself to your gracious Lord. That’s part one. And trust his grace with an undivided heart. That’s part two. Then our giving as well will overflow from God’s grace.
A. Give yourself to your gracious Lord
1. Why was the giving of the Macedonian Christian’s so surprising?
Paul starts this section on the offering by talking about the Macedonian churches: "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity" (2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV). "Severe trial." "Extreme poverty." We don’t know the details. But consider what we do know.