Summary: A method by which we must give.
Stewardship: A Matter of Choice
Review last week briefly. “Do we use the gifts that God has given for their intended purpose, or do we distort the intention of the gift?”
Illustration: During the monthly meeting of the church’s stewardship committee, one of the members posed this question to the entire group, “What causes Christians to lack generosity in their giving?” Diane, a real estate agent responded, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” David, an insurance agent noted, “Church members can’t afford to tithe in today’s economy.” The Chairman of the committee opened his Bible and read 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 to the group and then asked this question: “How has giving changed your heart?” After some discussion, the group came to this conclusion: “Christians will be generous givers when their hearts are encouraged to grow in grace, faith, love and commitment to Christ and to His church.
Giving is not just speaking of our money or possessions. It speaks of EVERYTHING. We must understand that giving is ‘people’ related, not ‘church’ related. If your heart is not right, then you will not give.
While this passage specifically deals with Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians about a particular collection for the saints in Jerusalem, it also provides the richest, most detailed model of Christian giving in the NT.
II. They chose to give out of their own affliction and poverty – vs. 2
A. The motivation of their giving was from the grace they had been given.
B. Macedonia – northern Roman province of Greece. This was an impoverished province that had been ravaged by many wars and even then was being plundered by Roman authority and commerce.
C. Vs. 2 mentions that in the midst of affliction, they had an abundance (surplus) of joy. Because of the work of Christ in them, they joy of the Lord moved through them.
Illustration: Dr. R. A. Torrey, was one of the great Bible teachers of past generations and founder of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. He & Mrs. Torrey went through a time of heartache when their 12-year-old daughter was accidentally killed. The funeral was held on a gloomy, miserable, rainy day. They stood around the grave and watched as the body of their little girl was put away. As they turned away, Mrs. Torrey said, “I’m so glad that Elisabeth is with the Lord, and not in that box.”
But even knowing that, their hearts were still broken. Dr. Torrey said that the next day, as he was walking down the street, the whole thing broke anew – the loneliness of the years ahead without their presence, the heartbreak of an empty house, and all they other implications of her death. He was so burdened with this that he looked to the Lord for help. He said, “And just then, this fountain, the Holy Spirit that I had in my heart, broke forth with such power as I think I had never experienced before, and it was the most joyful moment of had ever known in my life! Oh, how wonderful is the joy of the Holy Ghost! It is an unspeakable glorious thing to have your joy not in things about you, not even in your most dearly loved friends, but to have within you a fountain ever springing up, springing up, springing up, always springing up under all circumstances in your life!
D. John 10:10 “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” NAS
III. They chose to give of their own free will – vs. 3
A. Three points mentioned in this verse –
1. They gave according to their ability - they gave based upon what had been given
Illustration: Someone once said, “Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving.”
2. They gave beyond their ability – they gave sacrificially
3. They gave of their own accord – because they wanted to, unbegrudgingly
IV. They chose to give of themselves – vs. 5
A. Vs. 5 is the key to all proper giving – they gave FIRST of themselves.
B. This does not refer to a point in time, but of priority – condition of the heart.
V. They chose to give with joy – vs. 2
A. Joy is different from happiness. Adrian Rogers makes this point…
1. Happiness comes from the ‘happenings’ in our lives.
2. Joy comes from within, from the Spirit of God in you.
B. The Macedonians gave because of the joy of the Spirit of God in them.
VI. They chose to give according to their means – vs. 3
A. They gave according to their means, but they also gave sacrificially.
Illustration: How much time do we, or are willing to give up in service to Christ?