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2 Cor 8,1-15 The Grace of Giving

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The Grace of Giving

2 Corintians 8:1-15

A Pastor stepped behind the pulpit on Sunday morning

and said to the congregation:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

this morning I have some Good News…

and I also have Bad News.

The Good News is that we have all the money

that we will ever need to meet our budget

–       not only for this year,

but for years to come.

The Bad News is that most of it

is still in your pockets.


A rookie policeman was asked in an examination

what he would do to break up a crowd in a riot.

His answer indicated a deep understanding

of human nature. 

He replied, "I would take up a collection." 


A congregation in a small town

was having trouble with their collections. 

So one Sunday the Pastor announced from the pulpit: 

"Before we pass the collection plate today,

I would like to request that the person

who stole the chickens

from Brother Harvey's henhouse

would please refrain from giving

any money to the Lord. 

because God doesn't want

money from a thief." 

The collection plate was passed around,

and for the first time in many months,

everybody gave. 

No matter how you look at it,

          the subject of money makes us nervous.

For some people, the preacher NEVER

          speakes about money…

          (If he did, then all ‘them’ non-giving members

                   would give).

For others, the preacher ALWAYS ONLY

          speakes about money…

          “The church is always begging for money,”

                   they gripe.

The topic of Money makes us anxious…

We get nervous when our paycheck is smaller

          than we had expected.

We become sick when our investments

          produce a return that is lower than expected,

                   or when we loose money in an invenstment.

I don’t know about you,

But I have to bite my tongue

Every time when an organisation calls

                   for financial contributions.

The other day someone called and asked,

          “May speak to Mr. Funk?”

And I replied, “My name is Ferd.

Mr. Funk is my dad.”

“May I please speak to your dad,”

the person asked.

And I said politely,

“My wife won’t let him live with us.”

People asking for our hard-earned money

          Make us nervous.

And we also become downright angry

when the church has the nerve

to ask for money.


Money is not in the first place a material issue!

Let me say that again…

Money is not in the first place a material issue!

Money is a profoundly spiritual issue!

There is no other topic in the Bible

          That Jesus addressed as often

                   And as forcefully

          As the topic of money & posessions.


Money is a profoundly spiritual issue!

Don’t you find it ironic

(it would actually be funny

if it wasn’t so serious)

how we spend hours in line

          to purchase a good and expensive seat

for the Blue Bomber game…

                             or the latest Harry Potter book…

                   or a concert ticket…

          and it’s sooo much fun!

But we forget our wallet when we go to church…

          And we write out a check

for the fundraising banquet

before we leave the house,

so that we won’t be tempted

          to give too much

because the speaker was so good.

Don’t you find it ironic that we are

at the edge of our seats in the stands,

yelling with the crowds for a tying touch down…

and we are beside ourselfs

                   when there is overtime…

                   (we have no problem getting up

                             for work in the morning)…

But we nervously shift in our seats

and clear our throats

          when the church service goes a bit long…

I think we sometimes forget that these worship services

          are only a rehearsal for what awaits us

                   in all eternity… (now THAT’S a long time).

And I sometimes think

“If you don’t liking it now

- chances are –

you’re not gonna like it then either.

It seems to me that when it comes to spiritual matters

          God very often has to take the back seat

                   to our own selfish wishes and desires.

That is so true also for the way

in which we deal with our money.

But this is nothing new.

The Early Church already dealt with the problem

          of reluctant giving.

Let me read 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (The Message)
The Offering
1Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in the Macedonia province. 2Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. 3I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could--far more than they could afford!- 4pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
5This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and it caught us completely off guard. What explains it is that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. 6That's what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. 7You do so well in so many things--you trust God, you are articulate in your speach, you are insightful, you are passionate, you love us--now, do your best in this, too.
8I'm not trying to order you around against your will. But by telling you about the enthusiasm of the Macedonians as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. 9You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us--in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.
10So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. 11Your heart has been in the right place all along. You have got what it takes to finish it up, so go for it. 12Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. 13This isn't so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you are shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, 14your surplus matches their deficit, their surplus matches your deficit. In the end you come out even. 15As it is written,
Nothing is left over to the one with the most,and
Nothing is lacking to the one with the least.

In the early beginnings of the Christian Church

the Apostel Paul was moving

from one community to another

to bring people to Christ

and establish new faith communities.

The church in Jerusalem was experiencing

financial hardship in the midst of persecution. They were poor and many poor people

were coming to Christ and joined the church.

Corinth, on the other hand, 

was a very wealthy city

located on one of the major trade routes

in the ancient Mediterranean.

And so Paul makes an appeal to the Corinthian Church

to look at the need in Jerusalem

and to fulfill the commitment

they had made earlier.

Paul did not want to use his apostolic authority

          in this deli­cate matter.

Rather, he makes several appeals

to complete the collection.

The gift must spring from their own voluntary generosity.

The Corinthian Church knew that there was

          a great need in the church in Jerusalem.

          And thru Paul, they had promised

to send financial help,

          so that the work of Missions

                   could continue.

When we look at the History of the Early Church,

          We already see the framework of a Conference

of Christian Churches

“doing together what they could not

          do alone.”

But, just like today, in Early Christainity

there were selfish Churches

          who lagged behind in their commitment.

So Paul reminds the Corinthians and us

          what it’s all about.

He tells the story of another congregation.

The Macedonian Church,

          which was also a Church established

by Paul’s missionary efforts,

          and which was a very poor church

                   going thru “fierce troubles”,

          was giving way beyond their means.

Paul says,

“They were PLEADING for the privilege

                   to help out poor Christians.”

“This was totally spontaneous,

          entirely their own idea,

                   and it caught us completely off guard.”

Man! I’m getting goosebumps when I read this!

I can just picture our churches finance Committee

          At the edge of a nervous breakdown

                   Because there is SOOO much money!

“What are we gonna do with all this money??!!”

The Macedonians had “absolutely nothing” –

          and they gave generously,

                   way beyond what their

                             financial adviser would

                                      think is responsible giving.


And here, in rich Corinth, the church was LAZY

          in their giving…

The reason – the motivation – the inspiration

for their giving

was that they gave themselves COMPLETELY

          without reservation

                   to God

                   and to God’s Mission in the world.

The example of the Macedonian Church

should be an example to us as well.

Yes! We do get asked for a lot!

But, we have been given a LOT too!

We have been give the ultimate gift.

          God gave His Son.

Christ gave up His heavenly riches

          to give us salvation and eternity.

How could we NOT give up willingly



 with an eager desire

even PLEAD for the privilege to help out

in the relief of the poor

and to contribute in God’s cause.

Many of you in fact are doing that.

          Many of you have made a commitment to be

                   faithful and generous givers.

I am sure that you are experiencing

          the riches of  God’s blessings as a result.

Some of you are still struggling with your

          financial commitment to God and His Church.

I want to encourage you today to take a look at

          what God has done for you in Jesus Christ?

Look at the example of those who,

out of their poverty,

          Give way beyond their means.

And decide within your heart

          - not out of a sense of guilt or past failure -

          but on the basis of your LOVE for

                   Jesus Christ and His Church.

Giving is a very liberating thing.

When we give – not because we have to –

          but because we want to respond

in love and gratitude to our Lord Jesus

who gave it all for us –

          we become free from the bondage

of this world’s value system.

          And we become free

to worship Him

with our heart and soul and our posessions.

Giving is good for us!

When we give to the Lord and to the needy

          we get a good feeling inside…

                   we experience the GRACE

                   of being part of God’s Mission in the world.

Brothers and Sisters,

On Pentecost we were reminded of our commitment

          to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today I want to affirm our strong desire to serve God

As a community of faith…

And we do that in so many ways…

And I also want to challenge and encourage all of us

          To place our finances and our material gifts

                   Under the Authority of the Holy Spirit.

Good intentions don’t offer relief to the needy…

Good intentions don’t feed the hungry…

          They don’t build churches…

                   And help to provide resources

                             For Christian Education.

Good intentions make lazy Christians

          And unfaithful givers.

Good intentions leave the talent

burried in the ground.

As we go from here today,

          May God’s Spirit awaken in us

                   A passion to give…

That we too would plead for the privilege

          Of sharing in building God’s Kingdom.

Let us pray.

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