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Disciples are Generous

Living Like Jesus Disciples  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Giving is not just a practical necessity, it is an act of worship that draws us closer to God. Giving is one of the concrete ways that we demonstrate that we are followers of Jesus.

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We are in a series entitled “Living Like Jesus’ Disciples.
We have talked about a lot of different aspects of discipleship, but we have not yet talked about this aspect of giving.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time anyone preached a whole sermon on giving at Hopewell (Pastor Anita says she did.)
Giving is one of the concrete ways that we demonstrate that we are followers of Jesus.
If we belong to Jesus, then everything we have belongs to Jesus- including our finances.
We participate materially as the Body of Christ by sharing what we have with others.
We participate financially as a member of the local church.
Giving is not just a practical necessity, it is an act of worship that draws us closer to God.
Paul talked quite a bit about giving and generosity to the Gentile churches.
While he boasted about not taking a salary, he did however take up an offering.
Synagogues throughout the Roman empire would take up a collection for the Temple in Jerusalem
Paul’s offering was for the church, the believers in Jerusalem.
The reasons were twofold:
The Jerusalem church was experiencing poverty, either by famine or persecution or both.
The gentile believers owed a debt of gratitude to church out of which the gospel message had come to them.
Paul would deliver the gift himself at the conclusion of his third missionary journey.
Let me set the stage for this passage:
The regions of Achaia and Macedonia are adjacent Roman provinces. Corinth is in Achaia
Corinth is a large and wealthy city on a popular trade route. Macedonia contains relatively newer colonies such as Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea that were less prestigious in the Roman world.
The Corinthians had promised to give a gift for the Jerusalem church. Paul conveyed that information to the Macedonians who decided to do likewise.
Now he is coming to collect on their promise and he seems to be concerned that they will keep their commitment.

The Attitude of Generosity

The Attitude of Generosity

2 Corinthians 9:1–5 NLT
I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.

Give enthusiastically

2 Corinthians 8:7 NIV
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Giving feels good!
Giving feels good!
Giving can be out of guilt or obligation.
It can be out of pity or compassion.
it can be out of pride or competition.
Not all or our reasons for giving are equally right, but it is still good to give!
It feels good to make
Paul calls giving a “grace” -literally a gift of the Spirit.
It’s a lot like the fruits of goodness and kindness.
If the sinful nature is inherently selfish, then giving defies the sinful nature!
No wonder it feel good. Giving makes you a little more like God!
Like Old Mr. Scrooge from Dickens's “A Christmas Carol” giving changes your disposition. And a changed heart will result in generosity!

Give intentionally.

1 Corinthians 16:1–3 ESV
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.
It feels good to make promises, but it sometimes hurts to keep them!
It feels good to make promises, but it sometimes hurts to keep them!
That’s why giving must be intentional. If you don’t actually plan to give, you might not do it.
Many in our congregation prefer online giving because they can do it while they are paying their bills.
Tithing is an Old Testament principle which many still practice today.
Israel was commanded to set aside a tenth of all of their agricultural increase, this was mostly crops and cattle.
It was to be taken to the temple and given to those who serve in the temple for their sustenance.
It was also shared and consumed by those attending the festivals so that there was a festive atmosphere of plenty.
We don’t know how consistently the tithe was observed. Many apparently did not tithe. However, some gave more.
Tobit was a devout Israelite, a contemporary of Daniel and Ezekiel, taken captive to Assyria. Here he reminisces about his upbringing in Israel:
Tobit 1:5–8 NRSV
All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on all the mountains of Galilee. But I alone went often to Jerusalem for the festivals, as it is prescribed for all Israel by an everlasting decree. I would hurry off to Jerusalem with the first fruits of the crops and the firstlings of the flock, the tithes of the cattle, and the first shearings of the sheep. I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar; likewise the tenth of the grain, wine, olive oil, pomegranates, figs, and the rest of the fruits to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem. Also for six years I would save up a second tenth in money and go and distribute it in Jerusalem. A third tenth I would give to the orphans and widows and to the converts who had attached themselves to Israel. I would bring it and give it to them in the third year, and we would eat it according to the ordinance decreed concerning it in the law of Moses and according to the instructions of Deborah, the mother of my father Tobiel, for my father had died and left me an orphan.
Some people question whether the tithe is still valid under the New Covenant.
If the New Covenant is truly superior to the Old then it would it really suggest giving less?
Paul’s instruction to set aside a sum of money weekly in accordance with one’s income seems consistent with the practice of tithing.
A tithe (tenth) looks just like the whole number, making it a representative portion. It represents the whole -giving all that we have to God!
Karie’s dryer story.

Give willingly.

2 Corinthians 8:8–9 NIV
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
It’s important to give, but it’s also important how you give.
It’s important to give, but it’s also important how you give.
Doing the right thing for the wrong reason might seem to be OK in the end. After all, you did it. Doesn’t that count?
But the goal of being a disciple of Jesus is heart transformation.
If it’s not done willingly, then your heart is not really in it, thus the heart is not transformed.
Salvation is a Divine exchange. It’s all of you for all of Jesus.
Jesus took the first step by leaving heaven for you.
Your appropriate response is to give yourself fully to Jesus.
When you do, all of heaven’s resources become available to you.
Our attitude is not that we give to receive, but that we give freely as Jesus did.

The Increase of Generosity

2 Corinthians 9:6–10 NLT
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. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

The principle of increase - You have to sow to reap

Psalm 126:5–6 ESV
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Every farmer knows that you have to save some of your harvest to plant seed for the next year.
Every farmer knows that you have to save some of your harvest to plant seed for the next year.
Some people refer to the tithe as “seed money.” They are giving strategically as they trust God for increase.
A poverty mentality says, “eat your seed because you might not get any more later.”
A wise person sows their seed so that they will have more later.
When you give as “seed.” You are giving with the expectation of an increased return.
Maybe not right away, but eventually it will come back to you.

The function of increase - Whatever you sow you will reap

Galatians 6:7–8 ESV
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Here’s another thing that any farmer knows - whatever you plant, that is what will grow.
Ok, so weeds are the exception.
We don’t plant those, but they don’t just magically appear.
They are dropped by birds or by an enemy as in the parable of the wheat and the tares.
The point is that you cannot expect to receive what you do not give.
If you want friendship, then be friendly.
If you want prosperity, then give of your finances.
Or if you want kindness, mercy or forgiveness, then give kindness, mercy and forgiveness!
Or if you want kindness, mercy or forgiveness, then give kindness, mercy and forgiveness!
This passage talks about our dual nature, we are flesh and spirit.
Whatever you feed will grow!
Sowing to the flesh means pleasing the flesh, doing what feels good or right at the moment.
Sowing to the spirit means doing what pleases God, even if its not what we think we want.
The result is that our desires become aligned with God and we are more eternally satisfied.

The secret of increase - The more you sow, the more you reap!

2 Corinthians 9:8–11 The Message
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Do you get it? God is generous with us so that we can be generous like Him!
God is not stingy but is extravagant, event reckless in his love and giving toward us!
When our mindset is changed from selfishness and self-protection to that of God’s, we become extravagant lovers of God and of others!
This is not something that we do out of guilt, obligation or condemnation.
Quite the opposite! Is comes out of a realization of who God is and who is he is making us to be.
The Bible consistently says that the more you give, the more you will receive.
But it doesn’t always seem that way. Why? Because we still have the old mindset. We are giving just to get something.
Here’s the key. The reward is not just what you perceive to have received in return. The reward may also be the very ability to perceive it.
Some ministries make it sound like you will win the spiritual lottery if you just give your gift to them. It doesn’t work like that.
What you do out of obedience to God will make you more like God. You may not get rich, but you’ll be blessed!
The

The Result of Generosity

2 Corinthians 9:11–15 NLT
Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 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. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
So what is the reward for being generous?

The reward from your perspective

The reward from your perspective

Psalm 119:162 NLT
I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Notice the word “all” is used five times:
All grace - you are not just functioning in your own strength but moving in the supernatural gifts of the Spirit.
All sufficiency - Since everything you have is God’s, everything He has is yours. You have all of the resources of heaven available to you.
In all things - The resources of heaven include life, health, provision, wisdom and anything else you may need.
At all times - What you need will be there when you need it, even if you didn’t know you needed it.
So that you may abound in every (all) good work - the resources of the kingdom are available for kingdom business, wherever or whenever that might be.
If you think that God’s promise of provision and prosperity is about human greed or to satisfy our selfish desires then you have completely missed the point!
If you see yourself as belonging to Jesus then you whole life is about kingdom business.
If your whole life is about kingdom business then all of the resources of heaven are available to you.
The resources of heaven are there for you to so the things that Jesus wants to do through you.

The reward from the other’s perspective

The beautiful thing about generosity is that other people are blessed in two ways:
Their needs are met bringing at least some relief to their suffering.
Their attention is drawn away from themselves and their situation to the kindness of another and ultimately to the goodness of God.
In short, giving is a practical way to show the love of God to other people.
Caring is contagious. When you care for others, they begin to care about themselves, others, even about God.
Need-meeting ministries are not ultimately about eliminating needs, but about changing the poverty mindset.
We want to convince people that they are not hopeless by giving them hope.
We want to show people who have been victimized, used and taken advantage of that someone loves them without any conditions.
There are so many people in the world whose entire focus is survival.
If someone receives a blessing that they did nothing to earn then maybe they will also come to understand that life is waiting for them outside of their protective shell.
By thrive and grow, I mean that everything that everything that is under our care should increase.
That is the principle of increase, that everything that is alive and growing should increase!

The reward from God’s perspective

This is what glorifies God, that people are turned from self-focused and self-centered barely survivors to living thriving beings who grow and produce fruit.
By thrive and grow, I mean that everything that everything that is under our care should increase.
That is the principle of increase, that everything that is alive and growing should increase!
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