Summary: When God builds a Church, it is marked by joyful giving
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Comedian Flip Wilson told a story about a preacher and his church. A preacher was trying to get his people to be more enthusiastic about their church. The preacher said in his sermon: "If this church is going to get anywhere, it has to learn to crawl." The people said, "Let it crawl, Rev., let it crawl!" Then he said, "And after it learns to crawl, it has to learn to walk." And the people said, "Let it walk, Rev., let it walk!" The preacher got excited and said, "After this church learns to walk, it has to learn to run!" The people shouted back, "Let it run, Rev., let it run!" Then he said, "And if this church is going to run, it’s going to take money!" And the people said, "Let it crawl, Rev., let it crawl."
As we continue with our series, “When God Builds a Church”, we are going to look at one of those subjects that make some people uncomfortable. It is one of those subjects that admittedly I myself have even shied away from because of the perception that people have concerning the church and this subject.
Today we are going to deal with the subject of giving.
I believe people get uncomfortable with the subject of giving because of the fear of being convicted about the need to do better. This subject hits ALL of us where we live.
Studies show the average Christian gives about 3% of their income. Only about 9% of evangelical Christians tithe. (Barna Research Group) A 2003 Barna study says the average gift is closer to 2.2%
Giving is something that if we do not practice, we miss out on a great blessing.
I want us to focus on the joy of giving. Being able to give is something that should bring joy. I remember when I went from, “DO we HAVE to give this much?” to enjoying returning a portion back to Jesus.
Today we will look at five things that will help us to give with a joyful heart. Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 for our text today.
In this chapter Paul is trying to encourage the Corinthian church to follow through with their promise to help the church in Jerusalem. To do this, he speaks of the giving of the churches of Macedonia. They were in a bad way financially, but they still gave to the relief efforts in Jerusalem.
I. GIVING IS A SHARING OF GOD’S GRACE. (1,7)
“Grace” is one of the eight words used by Paul in various places to describe the offering the churches were taking up for the Jerusalem church. Grace is unmerited favor, or getting something you did not earn.
2 Corinthians 8:1 (NASB) 1Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 7But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.
In Acts 2:42-ff you will see that part of what the early church did, was to give to help others.
God gives us grace; we share that with other people.
When you look at the situation of the churches in Macedonia, it would not appear that God had blessed them because of the poverty and afflictions they were suffering. Throughout all the problems in that region, the churches felt God’s grace shinning upon them.
Every Christian should consider it a favor from God to have the opportunity to give.
In verse 7 we see that God had blessed the people so they abounded in everything.
God has given this church what it needs to do what we need to do.
When we give, we are sharing God’s grace. When we give to something like the Missions program, we are helping to reach people with the gospel who may have no other opportunity. In verse 7 Paul reminds the Corinthian church not to waste what they have been blessed with.
II. GIVING IS NOT ABOUT THE SIZE OF THE GIFT. (2-4)
Giving is not about the size of the gift, it is about the heart, attitude, and sacrifice behind the gift.
2 Corinthians 8:2 - 4 (NASB) 2that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,