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20070218 Giving Generously To God

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Giving Generously To God

2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Sunday 18th of February 2007

I don’t know about you, but I’m happy that it’s Sunday 18th of February. I’m glad it’s today because that means that Valentine’s Day is over. That day makes me nervous! Am I going to buy Mandy something or not? Is she going to buy me something or not. While some people think it’s just a commercial exercise for companies to get more money out of us, others think it’s the perfect opportunity to be told and shown that you’re special. Which one is she thinking this year?

The problem is, the size of the gift might be too much, over the top, too expensive, even seem by some as ridiculous, but if it’s generously given – there’s no doubt about it, the person giving generously real loves the one whose receiving.

In the US the average man is expected to spend the equivalent of $199.11 AU on their loved one on Valentine’s Day, reported the Gainsville Sun this week. The majority of men interviewed said that they plan on purchasing a special dinner, followed by flowers and candy.

There’s no doubt about it, the person giving generously really loves the one whose receiving the gift.

Sandy Taylor is a florist and she helped out this week and told me that 12 long stem roses cost $80 to buy. Apparently too there was one guy here in Wodonga who purchased $400 worth of flowers for his loved one and had a $100 worth sent each day.

The one who gives generously loves the one to whom they give.

Many and I? Well we snuggled up on the couch and watched “The Scarlet Pimpernel Again” and ate a “Heaven” ice cream and a nice real coffee and we had a great night together.

…And she was happy

The one who gives generously loves the one to whom they give.  

Now you don’t have to give expensive presents to prove your love for someone that’s true. But it sure helps! But on the other hand a relationship were love is not expressed very often if at all will not be a strong relationship. There’s trouble there.

On the other hand, those who spend generous amounts of time together in conversation, thoughtful acts like picking up after yourself or doing the dishes, kind words that let each other know that you love them and value them, making time for each other, listening and understanding how they feel, physical touch and giving a thoughtful gift at the right time will help build a strong relationship full of love. A relationship where love is shared generously will be a thriving relationship.

There’s a wise saying that goes, “You can give without loving – but you can’t love without giving.”

People who love give…

Today, I want to talk about giving generously to God. We’ve talked about giving yourself to God, giving joyfully to God and today we want to focus on giving generously to God.

Context of passage

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. He’s reminding them about the instructions that he gave them in his previous letter 1 Corinthians. In chapter 16 of that letter he had told them that he would be coming and that they were to collect money each week from the people in the church and put it aside so that when Paul arrived he would take the funds back to help the poorer churches, the Christians in the Jerusalem churches. They were finding it really hard, suffering from poverty and famine, and were a minority often misunderstood by Jews and Gentiles in a Roman occupied city.

Why was Paul doing this? Because when he became a follower of Christ on the Road to Damascus – the risen Lord Jesus told him to go and take the good news of JESUS to the Gentiles. The Jewish Christians were a bit concerned about this new move in mission because up until this point on Jews had been the focus of sharing the gospel, focusing on the Gentiles was a new move. So the Paul was called before leaders of the church in Jerusalem and asked to explain himself. Galatians 2:6-9 shows their gathering and listening to Paul. After hearing him speak they saw that Paul had been indeed given the responsibility by God to preach to the Gentiles. They said, “Go ahead, but one thing we ask, remember the poor.” So for Paul the task of urging the Gentile Christians to give to the poor, hungry Jerusalem church had become a passion for him.

During his third missionary journey, Paul had collected money from the churches in Macedonia – Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. They had given money though they were poor and were suffering persecution. In fact Paul says that they gave more than expected. Here in the verses that we’ve read today Paul is using the example of the Macedonian church to encourage them to give.

Three weeks ago we saw that the Macedonian churches had given so much because they gave themselves to God. We talked about the fact that Christian giving starts in giving yourself to God. Last week we talked about the fact that these Macedonian Churches had given joyfully even though they were in deep poverty. They didn’t run a hide, or give disappointedly. They gave joyfully. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit and when we give joyfully it shows that we have given ourselves to God. This week as we come to the passage again we see that the Macedonian churches gave generously. Because they had given themselves to God first they gave generously. They had experienced his generosity in giving to them the free gift of grace, forgiveness rich and free, that they gave generously to him.

·        Give Generously to God

       Though they have been through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more.

2 Corinthians 8:2-3 (NLT)

Paul explains to the church in Corinth what had happened with the churches in Macedonian. This is an incredible church.  They were generous! Though they were in deep poverty they gave with rich generosity.  Notice that it doesn’t say here that the Macedonian churches were poor. They were more than that… it says

              

·        Through much trouble and hard times…wonderful joy…deep poverty overflowed in rich generosity   NLT

·        during a severe ordeal of affliction…abundant joy…extreme poverty…overflowed in a wealth of generosity    NRSV 

·        out of the most severe trial…overflowing joy…extreme poverty…well up in rich generosity           NIV

Situation Much trouble and hard times
ResourcesWonderful joy and deep poverty
OutcomeOverflowing rich generosity

Paul describes their poverty as deep poverty, in the NIV it says it was “extreme poverty.” This was not normal poverty – it was extreme poverty. I know extreme sports are not normal sports. A normal sport might be bowls or cricket or golf. But those extreme sports are different – they’re spots like skydiving, snow boarding, bungy jumping. There’s a big difference and Paul says that they were in extreme poverty. Yet they gave generously. How can that be?

Well this verse also clearly shows that though they didn’t have much they did have something and it was joy. Wonderful Joy! When we see that they were poor but notice that they had joy we can know that they had something – something that was most important. They had a genuine relationship with the living God through faith in Jesus Christ. How do I know that? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It’s evidence that God is at work in your life. His Spirit is within you. You can be “happy” temporarily without the Spirit of God within you – while everything is going according to the plan. But joy – joy in the midst of hard times, of poverty, of suffering, is a different story. That’s evidence that your trust is not in circumstances but in the Living God.

So your difficult circumstances, what ever they are, though financial times, unemployment, a pending surgery, criticism, being misunderstood, or judged, add to any of these situation a deep trust in God, through Jesus Christ and the joy that flows from that relationship will result in generosity. Generosity even though you have little, generosity when work is difficult to find, generosity when facing surgery towards God and friends and those in similar circumstances plus wonderful joy overflowed into rich generosity.

Giving Generously To God Starts With What’s Expected

Paul says in v3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. They gave beyond their ability. They didn’t just give what they could afford but they gave even more, far more. In fact verse 5 says “They even did more than we had hoped”  it was beyond what was expected. The expected would have been the tithe.  This is the first financial principle of giving a tithe. 

People ask, "What if I can't afford to tithe?"  I say, "You can't afford not to."  If you want God's blessing on your finances, you need to give.  You need to obey what he's said.

Why Should I Tithe? 8 Reasons from God’s Word

  1. Because God commands it

“A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, belongs to the Lord and must be set apart to him as holy.” Leviticus 27:30 (NLT)

  1. Because Jesus commended it

“You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.” Matthew 23:23 (NLT)

  1. Tithing demonstrates that God has first place in my life

“The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first place in your life.”Deuteronomy14:23 (LB)

  1. Tithing reminds me that everything I own was given to me by God!

“Always remember that it is the Lord your God who gives you the power to become rich…”Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT)

 

  1. Tithing expresses my gratitude to God

“What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?” Psalm 116:12 (NLT)

 

“All must give as they are able, according to the blessings, given to them by the Lord.” Deuteronomy 16:17 (NLT)

 

  1. God says that refusing to tithe is stealing from Him!

“God says, ‘Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me!’ But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ God says, ‘In tithes and offerings…Bring your whole tithe to My house.’” Malachi 3:8-10

 

  1. Tithing gives God a chance to prove he exists and wants to bless you!

“‘Bring your whole tithe to my storehouse. Test me in this,’ says the Lord, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you wont have room enough for it! I will prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your fields will be protected from plagues.’”Malachi 3:10

  1. Tithing proves that I really love God

“(Jesus) If you love me, obey my commands.” John 14:15

 

“…now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real.” 2 Corinthians 8:7b-8 (NLT)

 

It’s like the child’s first steps.

Some people say hey, I’m going to be really generous, I’ll give fifty dollars, even 500 dollars but when ten percent is 5,000 it’s not generous. It’s far less than what God expects.

Giving Generously To God Goes Beyond What’s Expected

They didn’t just give the tithe – they gave beyond that, even more than what Paul had expected. These churches were generous. They were excelling in giving. Even though they were poor, they gave generously.

When building the tabernacle Moses was faced with a curious problem. “And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning…The people were restrained from bringing more and more because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work!” Exodus 36:3,7. When people catch a vision of God’s work, they can hardly be held back from giving!

Out of her deep love for Jesus, Mary anointed him with a very costly ointment (Mark 14:3-9). Some criticised her because it seemed so lavish and wasteful. Generous giving to the Lord may be labelled fanatical by others. But Jesus labelled it “love”. In fact he was so moved by the woman’s giving that he vowed “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be also told in memory of her.”

Those who are most reasonable and calculating usually give less. Be love generates lavish giving.

At the Jewish feast of Purim there was a regulation that says that however poor a man is he must find someone poorer and go and give them a gift.

That’s great advice. There are a lot of people who say “Hey I’m poor. I don’t have enough to give, people should be giving to me,” yet here’s the Macedonian church saying, we’re in desperate straights, in extreme poverty but we’re going to give generously anyway. Paul is blown away and now Paul is encouraging the wealthier Corinthian Church to model on them, to do the same, to give generously.

 

We have to ask why. How can they give when they are in such great need, when they are so poor, and I think it’s because God will supply your needs when you give generously. He’ll supply all your needs. The Bible is full over references of that show that God has promised to care for your, to look after you, to cover you, all through your life. On eof the clearest example is Philippians 4:19. “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” My God shall supply all my needs. You can be generous no matter what your financial state because God have promised to supply all your needs. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father noticing. He says look at the lilies, they are dressed in so much splendour and your Father will not fail to clothe you in the same way that he clothes the lilies. The Bible constantly says that God will look after your financial needs – wants? Not necessarily. Needs definitely.

So the Macedonians – in desperate straights – gave generously because they knew that God would supply their need.

Giving Generously To God Brings Results That Are Unexpected

Paul points out to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NLT

 

6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,

   “Godly people give generously to the poor.
      Their good deeds will never be forgotten.”[b]

 10 For God is the one who gives seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good,  and he will produce a great harvest of generosity[c] in you.

 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God. 12 So two good things will happen – the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem[d] will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving  to God  13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift[e] too wonderful for words!

Using an agricultural figure of speech that can be understood today as well as in New Testament times, we are to be generous with money and possessions. “Planting  generously” or “Sowing Generously” means in this context giving our money generously to those in need. The word for generously is the same word that is usually translated blessing. Like a farmer we sow with the hope of a blessed (full, multiplied) return. It is a reminder of a universal principle. We invest in something that we cannot have immediately in order that we may enjoy a future blessing. Sowing bountifully requires faith. It is an expression of the grace of God to the one to whom the gift is given and it makes the giver dependent upon the grace and character of God while hoping for a return on his investment. The obvious is stated here. In order to reap an abundant harvest you must sow liberally. The seed that is planted reproduces in number and the more you plant the more you will reap in the future. Paul also discusses this principle of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7 where he says “You reap what you sow.” Jim Davis

Jesus in Luke 6:38 says “If 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.”

IF you give generously you’ll receive generously – if you give sparingly you’ll receive sparingly.

I’ve found this principle to be true without even really realising it. I was at AMP 12 years ago and I was about to leave AMP to begin Bible College training. I was single and drove a Datsun 240K that my grandparents had given me. As I continued to pray and seek God about what he wanted me to do with my life I was convinced that he wanted me to put him first in everything.

I remember leaving AMP wondering whether I’d every own a nice car, a house, whether I’d ever marry, have kids – all I knew was I was leaving a good steady income and taking all my saving to pay for Bible College tuition.

I tithed regularly. I met Mandy and when we married we tithed from the start. We then gave more, over and above the tithe and God has continued to direct our lives. We feel today blessed in every way. God has taken care of us. He has provided for us. And I believe the more I give to him the more he give to me.

This is true of our church…

Look at the people who gave generously to God in the years gone by.

I wonder about you this morning – perhaps if you were to pass away – and someone was flipping through and they found your cheque book would they say, “Wow, what a generous giver this person was!” I wonder this morning if you would give yourself a mental generosity check. How generous are you with your giving? Would you be like the Macedonian churches or would you be closer to the people in Corinth who Paul was urging saying “Come on! Excel in giving.”

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