Summary: Sermon outlines four reasons for Christians to give abundantly. Everyone can give something and the quality of our gift is based on the purity of our heart.
Reasons To Give
We are all blessed in many ways beyond our comprehension. Even though we have lousy days, go through tough times, and face more than our share of challenges, we all receive countless blessings. The tendency is for people to tell you more about what is going wrong in their lives rather than what is going right. When we really think about life in general, we have much to be thankful for: we live in nice homes, we have friends and good support systems, and have the freedom to make our own choices. As a whole, life is not only good; it can be great.
One of our greatest opportunities to bring additional joy, blessing, and abundance to our lives happens when we are generous and give to others. Today’s epistle lesson from 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, talks about four reasons to give abundantly. Hopefully, by taking St. Paul’s advice we will live more complete, joyous, and blessed lives.
First Reason to Give Abundantly – Law of the Harvest
There are certain principles for giving and they are similar to the Laws of Nature. You know what I’m talking about: things like what goes up must come down, don’t spit into the wind, and don’t take any wooden nickels. As you can see, I was not a science major in college. The main principle for giving is called The Law of the Harvest. It is found throughout the bible and in its basic form states that you reap what you sow. St. Paul illustrates this fundamental Christian concept using farming terms saying, “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” The Law of the Harvest makes economic sense and even though I’m not a farmer there are a few points that I want to explain. First, the cost of planting seed is virtually immaterial compared to the bountiful harvest. No planter will begrudge planting seed because casting insufficient seed will only cheat the sower. Likewise our gifts to others are immaterial in relation to the benefits we reap from God. Second, our rewards for giving abundantly are not entirely material. I want to make this point because some unscrupulous pastors encourage congregations to give based on greed. They claim that the more people give, the more material riches they will receive. St. Paul and our church do not subscribe to this shrewd investment strategy that is both non-biblical and sinful. Selfish giving simply leads to spiritual poverty. Instead, our motivation must come from within our hearts and for our love for others. When our giving is done in the Spirit we will receive bountiful blessings. The Greek word for sowing bountifully (eulogias) has a double meaning. The word actually means blessing, so that one who sows bountifully will also reap blessings from God. On the other hand those who sow sparingly will forfeit their blessing.
The Law of the Harvest implies that our sowing is something that is ongoing. Productive farmers must continually plant crops to reap harvests. They cannot maintain unproductive fields for too long. They must continually plant seed and cultivate crops to reap harvests at the end of each season. The same is true with us. We must be continually generous to receive future blessings. Giving is something that is to be done on a regular basis. Unlike the man in the Parable of the Rich Fool, we are to actively sow the fields given to us instead of relaxing, enjoying our abundance by eating, drinking, and making merry.
Second Reason to Give Abundantly – God Loves A Cheerful Giver
St. Paul writes that giving is a conscious decision. Christian giving is the result of careful thought and we are to decide our hearts on how much to give. Christian giving is a spontaneous response to God who has given us everything. From Deuteronomy we read, “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you all in your work and in everything you put your hand to.” This scripture along with Proverbs 22:8, “for God loves a cheerful giver,” demonstrate that the giver’s attitude is crucial. Only God knows and understands our hearts and He rejoices when we imitate His unselfish, cheerful giving to others. The amount of our gift is not important; rather our giving is judged by our motivation’s purity. God delights in blessing His people with gifts and blessings when they give cheerfully, unselfishly, and generously.
We are told to be cheerful givers rather than stingy givers. Let’s look at these words more closely. The Greek word for grudgingly (lupe) means sorrow, grief or pain. Giving is not to be made with an attitude of regret, remorse, sorrow, or reluctance for what was given. Instead, giving should be happy, joyous, and cheerful. It is no accident that St. Paul uses the Greek word hilaros (from which we derive the English word hilarious) when describing cheerful givers. Cheerful givers are the recipients of God’s love because they do it with heartfelt joy.