Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Money Matters - Generous Giving

Money Matters – Generous Giving
Text: 2 Cor. 8:1-15
When we are sick we go to the doctor and get some tests done to check out what’s going on inside our body.  In the same way, how do we check out the spiritual status of our hearts?
Luke gives us the way to have an internal check up of our heart. Luke 12:34 says “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” This according to the Bible is a pretty clear indicator as to where the affections of the heart lie.
Does the bible forbid the acquisition of wealth? No. Duet 8:18 – It is he who gives us the ability to produce wealth. This is his grace upon our lives. Are we thankful for the jobs we have? Do we recognize it as the grace of God and not your efforts?

God richly supplies us with many things to enjoy. 1Tim6:17. There are some streams of Christianity that  promote the idea that poverty is next to godliness and some that promote prosperity as a sign of godliness.  In the Bible we see people like Abraham, Isaac, David, Job and Solomon were very, very wealthy.  And you have the poor widow, the apostles etc who were not well off. We are promised spiritual and material blessing.

The bible however gives us principles on how to handle wealth. Wealth is neutral, how we handle it is what matters.

The warning about money is this – those who chase after it will find trouble. Eg). Achaan – loved money and fell in to sin. Balaam decided to curse God for money. Delilah sold her lover for money. Judas betrayed Jesus for money.

So how do we handle money rightly? Money has power – that is why we are warned. We cannot serve both God and money. Mammon is powerful.

2 Cor 8:1-5
Verse1 – The church in Jerusalem were very poor. The Corinthian were rich and affluent. As Christians and as churches we have an obligation to help the poor. Paul tells us that the Macedonian Church i.e Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea were very generous. He was citing them as an example to provoke the rich Corinthians to give.

What does giving involve? Giving involves money, but much more. We can give a meal,  our home for someone to enjoy a holiday while we are away, bicycle, sewing machine or any possession. I may give someone a car, or I may freely loan it to others.

There’s a great deal of giving that can take place even when I retain ownership – as long as I remind myself that God is the true owner, and I’m a steward of what He has given me.
We must be careful that our ownership doesn’t involve possessiveness. Instead of buying stuff we rarely use, why not borrow it and give the money towards God’s purposes.

How can we give in a way that glorifies God?

  1. Verse1 – Our giving should be motivated by grace. Giving can be an act of the flesh or a spiritual act. There is also a gift of giving but we are not talking about that. So if I don’t have the gift to give should I give? V.7 – we are commanded to give. We also need God’s grace to give and God’s grace is given to us freely without measure.
  2. Verse2a- the Macedonians were not rich – out of severe trial, they gave. They were severely persecuted and yet they gave. You may have difficult circumstances – illness, financial trouble etc , whatever it is – give.
  3. V2b – They gave out of overflowing joy. As you give you will experience much joy. So we give with faith.
  4. V2c-extreme poverty – that did not stop them. So nobody is excused. God will stretch your resources when we honor  him
  5. V2d –they did not just give but they Bible records it as “rich generosity” – it’s not the quantity but the heart with which they gave
  6. V3. Proportionate – as much as they were able
  7. V3b – Is it sacrificial – they gave beyond their ability. When we give does it cost us, does it pinch us? Sacrificial giving is an integral part of a healthy church. Giving affirms Christ’s Lordship. It breaks the chains of Mammon that would enslave me and transfers my center of gravity to heaven.
     V3c - Voluntary – entirely on their own – of their own free will. It is always between you and God. Do it in secret.
  8. V4. Giving was a privilege and not an obligation or compulsion. In fact they pleaded to participate.
  9. V5. It was an act of love – they gave more than expected. Jesus who was rich became poor for our sakes so that we may become rich in every way. Jesus laid aside his majesty and died on the cross so that we could have the free gift of salvation and make us rich in every way. This would evoke a response from us that is full of gratitude.
Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightning.  Karl Barth

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