Summary: One year into a stewardship campaign we can learn from Paul’s advice to the Corinthians. Finish what you started a year previously.
An elderly man won $1,000,00 in a lottery. His family was worried about him because he had a bad heart. They were afraid that when they told him he’d won the $1,000,000 he might drop dead of shock. So they went to their minister hoping that he would find the best way to break the news. The minister called on his old friend and they talked for awhile as old friends do until, finally, the minister said, “What would you do if I told you you’d won $1,000,000 in the lottery?” The man said immediately, “Why I’d give half to the church.” At that the minister dropped dead.
Sort of good news, bad news. Good news is that the man wanted to give to the work of the Lord. Bad news is it killed the minister.
The Christian Church of Clarendon Hills is in the midst of an expansion project. God is growing his church and expanding our ministry territory to share the message of a new life in Jesus Christ. With any expansion project there is good news and bad news.
First the bad news – expansion costs money
Economy has been slumping
People don’t always like to be asked to give
People aren’t always willing to part with money
So, that’s the bad news…expansion costs money
Now the good news – expansion costs money
Why is that good news?
All the wealth in the world is God’s anyway (Ps. 24:1)
God wants to teach us
That means if He wants this done, He’ll get it done. Only our lack of faith and obedience can make it fail
Our wealth in God’s hands can do wonders.
A person with only one cent still has a pocket filled with potential. Potential for treasure in heaven.
In the book of 2 Corinthians we find that the Apostle Paul was collecting an offering for needy Christians in Jerusalem. The Corinthians had been the ones to suggest this idea.
But now some of Paul’s adversaries were saying he couldn’t be trusted. They were saying he wasn’t a genuine apostle, and that he was putting into his own pocket the money they had collected for these poverty-stricken believers.
He uses part of this letter to ask the Corinthian Christians to consider how honorable his personal life had been – and how he had demonstrated trustworthiness among them.
And then in the 8th chapter of 2 Corinthians he urges them to prepare for his coming visit by completing the collection they had started a year previously. Exactly one year into our Faithful-Now and Forever commitments, we can learn from Paul’s advice too.
Things can change after a year. At the time a pledge sounds great, but later the enthusiasm may lessen. Other wants and needs creep in, and the original cause is no longer forefront in our minds.
A lot can change in a year. However what doesn’t change is that our gifts have the potential to impact eternity. So Paul unapologetically says, “Finish the work.” And then he tells us how to do it.
TRANSITION: First of all he says…
I. FINISH LIKE YOU STARTED
By that he means finish…
With the same enthusiasm (v. 10)
Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. (v. 10)
The Corinthians had a great deal of enthusiasm when the need of the Christians in Jerusalem came to their attention. “Let’s take up a collection and said it back with you, Paul.” They came up with the idea and they were the first to give. But now, it was a year later. And they hadn’t followed through with their commitment.
Perhaps you are someone who made a commitment to Faithful-Now and Forever last year on November 19. You enthusiastically thought of some things you could sacrifice in order to make a greater pledge. But now find your enthusiasm isn’t at the level it was a year ago.
One of the things Kim and I decided we would sacrifice was costly entertainment – namely concerts. Many of you know I’m a big U2 fan. U2 came to Chicago for 4 concerts in May. I didn’t make much of a fuss, b/c I knew Kim and I had sacrificed things like this. Then I read how Bono was turning the concerts into a worship experience, etc. And they were coming back to Chicago for two more shows on October 15-16. Praise God. Surely this is a sign from the Father that it is my destiny to see this tour. I knew I had weak case, but I thought I’d test the waters with Kim. So I told her one morning, “U2 is coming back to Chicago, and I think I need to be there.” You all think she’s kind and sweet. Let me tell you something – she is kind and sweet. Underneath that exterior is a tough woman. I tell her I need to be at the U2 concert, she looks at me and says, “Hello! Do the words Faithful-Now and Forever mean anything to you?”