Summary: You do not need to be wealthy to be generous. You can give even when you are broke.
“The Path to Generosity”
2nd Corinthians 8:1-7
I started my first job when I was 12 or 13 years of age. In the area where I grew up we had a local mission and the helped families in the area with a variety of needs. They gave away food and clothing to needy families and they also provided lawn care to people in the community for a fee. And that’s who I worked for. Another thing the mission did was to take care of men who were homeless. They gave them a place to stay and 3 solid meals a day. The pastor who supervised all of this was named Paul. He was a pretty rough individual but had a great heart, a lot of wisdom and he was the right person for the job. He had several rules he functioned by for the older men who stayed there. (1) If you are going to stay there you had to attend church every Sunday. He would preach in a chapel located there and church was mandatory. (2) another rule he had and by the way, his wife was a great cook, was this ….if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. That’s right out of the scripture, of course, from the apostle Paul.
So the men who stayed there would go out and do lawn work and other odd jobs and they could have 3 meals and a warm place to sleep. Then at the end of the week he would pay everyone in cash. He also hired a few young teenage boys like me and he would pay us all at the same time. Payday was very interesting. I still recall how he would do it. He would gather all of the men and the young guys together; we stood in a large circle and he would call us over to him and he would pay us in cash. And this is the way he paid me….Henderson, how many hours did you work this week?…..no time cards. I would tell him and this is what he would do. He pulled out this wad of cash and he would say this is what you made, this is for God and this is for you. He would hand me my money and he would stick God’s money in his pocket. Now as a kid I always wondered how God got His money out of his pocket. But he was a very hard -working, honest, man…. he had a big impact on my life and right there in that circle he gave me my first lesson on tithing. Now before we move any further I want to define what a tithe is. So let’s go to the dictionary. Webster defines a tithe as a 10th part, paid or given for the support of a church. I do not know how many of you give 10% of your income to this church. My family does and that is the one I am responsible for. But as your pastor I am also responsible for helping this church understand that God has commanded all of us to give our tithes and offerings.
Now I want to admit something to you. As a young boy I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. Partly I suppose because no one asked me if I wanted to or not. He just chose to give my money away for me. Sort of like the government does. No seriously. You go to work for someone and let’s say that they pay you 10.00 an hour. You work for 40 hours and so you’re expecting a check for 400.00. But that’s not what it is. With S.S. and Federal tax your check will be about 312.00. Over 20% of your check will come out and go to the government. Without anyone asking you by the way. Now you’re probably like me in that. You don’t like someone telling you to give and you sure don’t like someone making you give and you certainly don’t like someone doing it without even asking you first. So why as your pastor should I think that I should stand up here and tell you that you need to give if I already know that people don’t like it? Well, first of all, no one is going to make you give to God’s work. No one is going to deduct it from your paycheck…federal tax, social security, tithe! But we do have to understand what the Bible teaches us about giving. In fact the Bible doesn’t just teach about giving it actually teaches about generosity. In our passage for today Paul was talking to the church in Corinth and he was telling them about the church in Macedonia and how they had learned to give. Now why did he do that? Because the church in Macedonia had discovered some basic principles for giving that the church in Corinth had not caught on to. And you know what? Some of us here today have missed these principles also. Some of us have not yet learned to give and we certainly haven’t learned to give generously. This morning I want to plead with you for a moment and do everything I can to convince you to just listen. Because this is what I believe deep down inside of me…I believe that everyone wants to be a giver. In fact I would say everyone here wants to be a generous giver. And that is what Paul shows us here….. 5 characteristics of a generous giver/believer.