Sunday, December 04, 2005

How Then Shall We Give?

[Much of this message is based on a sermon published in Nelson's Annual Preacher's Sourcebook (2005), December 4, 2005.]

Intro: We ended last weeks message with the reminder that “thankgiving” is not something we do once a year, but is something that must be practiced year round.

  1. Christmas is full of traditions and concepts that we tend to remember only at Christmas time, but really must become a part of our lifestyle, become a part of our way of life.

  2. Thanksgiving is certainly one of those.

  3. Today we focus on another – that of giving.

  4. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “money”. Interestingly, the Bible spend far less time speaking about money, and far more time on stewardship.

  5. The Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines stewardship as being “the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”i

  6. Stewardship is not just money, it is also natural resourses, it is our things, it is our families, and it is our money.

  7. Stewardship is not about giving, stewardship is not about how much we give; rather, its concern is how do we give.

  8. In today's passage we will look at five principles about our giving.

Read II Corinthians 8:1-12


Tran. The Corinthian church had come a long ways.

  1. In I Corinthians we see a church that is fractured. It has divided itself into factions depending on who had led them to Jesus – rather than following Jesus, they followed the men God had appointed as leaders.

  2. We see a church that has forgotten how to love

  3. We see a church that celebrates sin in its midst.

  4. Now Paul sees a church that is growing, church worthy of following new truth.

  1. Give Gratefully (v. 1)

      1. There are two ways in which can given

        1. First, we can give because we have to. There are those who give because they have to. They are compelled to. It is as if they have no choice.

        2. And then there are those who give because they want to. Nobody or nothing forces them to give.

(Ill.) At another point, John had written, “We love because He first loved us.”, Paul is almost suggesting that, “We give, because he first gave to us.”

      1. Sadly, there are those who give to get God's favor. They work with the theory, the more I give, the more God will love me.

      2. But there is a major flaw in that theory – it is based in a theology of works. It is based on the thought that I can be good enough for God. Yet, it is because I cannot be good enough, that Christ came.

      3. We can't earn God's grace – not by what we do, not by what we give. We can only accept it as a gift.

      4. And our giving is a response to our appreciation of what God has given to us

  1. Give Sacrificially (v. 2)

    1. Paul is using the Macedonian church as a model for the Corinthian church – and for us

    2. These Christians had experienced a “sever trial”. We don't know what that trial is – but Paul did.

    3. That was only a part of the story. They also experience “extreme poverty.”

    4. Though we do not know their exact circumstances, it did not hinder their giving. In fact they gave generously. They gave sacrificially.

(Ill.) There was a young boy who worked long hours in a factory in Naples, Italy. He yearned to be a singer. When ten years old, he took his first lesson in voice. “You can’t sing. You haven’t any voice at all. Your voice sounds like the wind in the shutters,” said his teacher.

The boy’s mother, however, had visions of greatness for her son. She believed that he had a talent to sing. She was very poor. Putting her arms around him, she encouragingly said, “My boy, I am going to make every sacrifice to pay for your voice lessons.”

Her confidence in him and constant encouragement paid off! That boy became one of the world’s greatest singers—Enrico Caruso!ii

  1. Give Eagerly (v. 3, 4)
    1. Neither Caruso's mother or the Macedonians had much to give, but it was not the amount that mattered. It was the attitude.

    2. God is not looking for equal gifts – he is looking for equal sacrifice.Give Eagerly (v. 3, 4)

    1. when I go to a conference, there is always a knee jerk reaction when I am told an offering is going to be taken.

    2. But that does not seem to be the reaction of the Macedonians.

(Ill.) Macedonia was an area ancient Greece – located south of Phillippi and north of Corinth. Geographically, it represented the bulk of the peninsula that represents modern Greece. They had heard about the needs of the church in Jerusalem – and they responded.

    1. They had heard about the needs of the church in Jerusalem – and they responded.

    2. In fact they more than responded – they had to plead for the privilege to be able to help the Jerusalem church. They were eager to help.

(Appl.) It sounds so strange. Have you ever heard of some group or even some person plead that an offering be taken? But they were eager to be involved in the lives of others.

  1. Give Spiritually (v. 5)

    1. More important than their giving financially to the Lord was their willingness to give themselves.

(Ill.) In Romans 12:1-2, Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    1. More than money, more than things, more than your time. God wants you. And if he has you, then he will have the right amount of the rest.

    2. When we belong to God, when we really belong to God, we will not have a problem giving all that we have for we will understand that God owns it all anyhow.

  1. Let Your Giving Be Motivated By Love (v. 7-9)

    1. Finally, Paul suggests, our giving must be motivated by love.

    2. I suppose our reaction here would be that modern teen sloggan - duh

(Appl.) I mean here is the church that received Paul's greatest teaching on love. If it has been awhile since you have read I Corinthians 13, then take time to do so this week.

    1. The church had grown to love Paul. It was that love that Paul appealed to.

    2. But it was also the love that they had for Jesus Christ.

    3. It was not to be some syrupy, emotional love – but a love that came out of their relationship to Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Let me conclude by noting that when Christ came and give the greatest gift -

  1. It was rooted in his recognition of God's grace

  2. It was sacrificial

  3. It was willingly given

  4. It was a spiritual undertaking

  5. It was motivated by love

As we share communion this morning – we celebrate that great gift that Jesus made so many years ago. Can our giving be any less?

iMerriam-Webster, I. (1996, c1993). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.). Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster.

iiTan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.