Summary: The Macedonians plead with Paul for a chance to share financially. What creates that kind of a heart?
- Skit: Guy shows up who has traveled back in time. Offers second guy a chance to buy Apple stock the day before the company starts. Play up the time period and maybe some jokes off the company name.
A MYSTERY: Why would someone plead for a chance to give?
- Think of the way that fundraising normally works. Someone tries to guilt you into giving. Someone tries to pester you into giving. It’s something you do as a concession. It’s something you do out of a sense of duty or obligation.
- That’s why verse 4 leaves us shaking our heads? What in the world? The Macedonians pled with Paul for a chance to help? Why? Who volunteers for that? If they’re not bugging you about it, just stay as far away from them as you can. At least that’s the way we normally look at it.
- There’s no doubt that they had a viewpoint that was miles away from ours. In this sermon I want to see if I can get us to where we see things from their perspective – even if it’s just for a moment. We might not be ready to make that big a shift, but we can at least see where we need to go.
HOW IT DOVETAILS WITH CHRIST'S VISION: Jesus spoke of the Kingdom as something you’d joyfully sell everything to have the chance to participate in.
- I want to unpack these two parables for a moment.
- Now, let’s start by acknowledging that the point of these parables is not giving. Rather, these are parables concerned with entering into the Kingdom, so they have more of a focus on salvation and getting to be a part of the Kingdom.
- The first parable is about a man who finds a treasure in a field. He puts it back and sells everything he has to buy the field. He obviously does not do this begrudgingly or with a sense of duty. Rather, he’s overjoyed at the chance to do this. He’s overwhelmed by his good fortune. He understands this is likely the best thing that will ever happen to him and he’s smiling at the open door.
- In the same way, Jesus wants His hearers to understand how they should see the offer He is putting before them. As He invites them to be a part of His Kingdom, He wants them to understand that this is not an offer to see as a duty or obligation. “Well, I don’t really want to, but I don’t feel like I can say no.” “I don’t want to go to hell, so I’ll say yes, but this stinks.” Not in the least. The opportunity to enter Jesus’ Kingdom is the opportunity of a lifetime. An door will be opened through His life and death and we should rejoice in it.
- The second parable paints a similar picture. A merchant is shopping for pearls. He knows his stuff and is looking with his expertise for what is worth buying. He comes across a pearl so incredible, so magnificent that he rushes off to sell everything he has so that he can buy it. Again, as with man buying the field, the merchant here does not do this with a frown on his face. He’s not motivated by duty or obligation. He’s overwhelmed by the opportunity in front of him. He’s rejoicing in the chance he’s been given.
- Here again we have a picture of the proper response to an invitation to enter Jesus’ Kingdom. Joy and gratitude at the opportunity.
- A brief side note: although it’s not relevant to our sermon, it is worth noting that in both parables the person sold everything they had to enter the Kingdom. This does not speak to salvation by works and us earning our way in. Rather, it speaks to the reality that receiving Christ means that He is Lord of our life. He is in charge. He died for us so we live for Him. When we want to do one thing but His commandments point us to something else, we do what He said because He is Lord of our lives.
- So these two parables are about coming into the Kingdom. And both tell us that we should do so with joy and gratitude.
- Now, what does that have to do with money and what we read in 2 Corinthians 8? Well, a lot.
- If the chance to enter this Kingdom is such an incredible opportunity, it would naturally follow that we would want to pour as much as possible into this. Not only our commitment, but our service, our spiritual gifts, and our financial resources. When you have an opportunity like this, it’s worthy of us putting all we can into it.