Summary: God ensures that generosity will be a mark of authentic biblical community by rewarding those who give.
May 19, 2002
Big Idea: God ensures that generosity will be a mark of authentic biblical community by rewarding those who give.
It’s been a very interesting week, hasn’t it? Since we were here last Sunday, the Cubs haven’t won a single game. (And they’ve had 6 tries!!) Star Wars, Episode Two was released in theatres coast to coast. And of all things, the President is being accused of knowing about September 11 before September 11.
Hopefully this isn’t true. I personally think it’s a bunch of political maneuvering, which is still pretty sad. But what an accusation. To say someone had key information that would save lives, then didn’t share it is a strong indictment.
I stand before you today with life-saving information. I can only say that because I get to share what God has revealed in the Bible concerning his Son Jesus. To have this information and not share it would be wrong. I must share it. And yet, not all of the news about following Jesus is easy on the ears. Some of what it takes to be a Christian is quite challenging – especially when we start sharing what the Bible has to say about money – specifically about giving it away. But again, to have this information and not share it, especially because it is life-changing, and life-saving information – to have this information and not share it would be wrong.
A lot of ministers don’t share it. They reason, “People don’t like to talk about money in church. It turns them off. Attendance will go down if you preach about money.” And yet, strangely enough, Jesus wasn’t afraid to talk about money. In fact, He saw our attitudes toward money as one of the key check points of our spiritual health. There is an element in which this topic is for mature audiences only. Because how we handle money is part of spiritual growth.
Our passage today from 2 Corinthians 9 talks about the law of sowing and reaping.
This concept is often misused to motivate people to give. The reasoning is that God wants you to be rich, and the way to get there is to give. Televangelists talk about sowing seed money. "Give to my ministry - sow that seed of faith - and God will bless you with riches and wealth!"
They forget that Jesus himself was poor, and misuse what the Bible says on this matter for their own gain.
And yet, through giving God transforms us.
Clearly the Bible does say that there are sometimes rewards for giving:
Deut. 15:10 (NLT) - 10Give freely without begrudging it, and the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.
Pr. 19:17 - He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done.
Mal 3:10 (NLT) - 10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!
Jesus made a similar promise:
Luke 6:38 (NLT) 38If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving—large or small—it will be used to measure what is given back to you.”
Sort of like putting leaves into a bag – press them down to make more. That’s how much God wants to bless the generous giver.
Now let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9:
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 - 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (TNIV)
There it is. The law of sowing and reaping.
You see, a farmer has a choice of how much seed to sow. If he doesn’t plant much seed, he won’t get much harvest. But the choice is his.
Similarly we have a choice regarding how much of our wealth to give away. The more generous we are in giving back to God, the greater the harvest.
TRANSITION: God ensures that generosity will be a mark of authentic biblical community by rewarding those who give.
I. FOUR QUALIFIERS CONCERNING THE REWARDS FOR GIVING
(The wording for these four qualifiers came from a sermon by Bob Russell)
The reward is…
1. Not always immediate
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. God operates on His perfect timetable. Some of the rewards are reaped in this life. Some will be received in the life to come.