Perhaps you might be wondering why I preached three messages on giving. I became so enthralled with the subject as I started studying it a month ago that I realized that there was so much to say. And, it isn’t like you can just come at it from one direction and talk about it forever. Over the past three weeks we have looked at three different vital aspects of giving. The first message had to do with the object of our giving – we should give to help those in need (see Isaiah 58). The second message had to do with the faithfulness of God’s character that enables us to trust Him as we give. The third message (today) had to do with the motivation behind our giving: Grace.
We spent most of our time in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9. We identified 6 characteristics of joyful giving in these two chapters. They are:
1. All giving is by Grace (2 Cor. 8:1,6,7; 9:14-15). The Greek word for "grace" is Charis, which Strong’s defines as "divine influence upon the heart and it’s reflection in the life." I really like that. We receive God’s grace as a divine influence upon our heart that is then reflected in our life. The experience of this grace helps us to be generous with our lives, even if we are going through severe trial or extreme poverty. Grace is so powerful, that in 2 Cor. 8:2, when you mix those two cirucumstances with overflowing joy, you get rich generosity!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 is an illustration of giving by grace. Through the principle of sowing and reaping, it encourages us to plant seeds in the Lord’s work. We are to give how the Lord leads us, not out of compulsion but out of JOY! An understanding of God’s will for you in the giving of your time, resources, and energy will lead you to joy as you follow Him, instead of someone else’s expectations. We also see, from this passage, that God will give us His grace and will bless us so that we can, in turn, bless others from our abundance that He provides. In vv. 12-13, we see that giving is a service that spreads God’s glory and gives Him praise. When we give, we actually lead others in worship, because as they receive the gifts, they begin to praise God! Givers are worship leaders, because everyone you give to praises God for the blessing!
2. We should be EAGER to share in the PRIVILEGE for giving (2 Cor. 8:3,4). We should have an "I can’t wait" attitude when it comes to giving! We should be looking for ways to bless others and be generous with our lives and our resources. God loves a cheerful giver!
3. We are to give willingly according to what we have (2 Cor. 8:10,11). We should not compare our gifts to others, especially if we do not have as much as others. God looks at the heart and approves our gift if we give sacrificially and with the right attitude. The little bit of the widow is just as impressive as the millions from the billionaire to God (see Luke 21:1-2).
4. We give to supply the needs of others so there will be equality – in turn our needs are met (2 Cor. 8:13-15). The principle here is not that everyone have exactly the same thing, but that everyone’s needs are met. One of us should not be sitting in a palace, while another brother starves because of bad circumstances (1 John 3:17). Now, we are not talking about supporting laziness, but true need. If the brother will not work, the Bible says that he will not eat (2 Thess. 3:10)- we are not to bail out the lazy, but we are to help those in real need.
5. Our giving encourages others to do the same (2 Cor. 9:1-2).
6. When we pledge to give, we should follow through with it (2 Cor. 8:11; 9:3-5).
All of life is to be lived by grace. Matthew 10:8 says, "Freely you have received, freely give." We are to be generous in all ways. Many would think that I am primarily talking about money and giving to the church. That is part of it. The last couple of weeks, we identified three areas to give to, which were the needy, the advance of the gospel, and the local church. There are ministries that exist to help with the first two and they should be aided because of their specialty. But, the local church should also be primarily carrying out these ministries and should be supported.
Giving is to be by grace. If you are wondering what kind of time or resources God wants you to give, just ask Him. We try to put people under the Law on this because we are afraid that if we give freedom and allow people to listen to the Lord, then they won’t give anything and our ministries won’t get funded. I have a better idea, which I believe is more scriptural: Let’s turn ourselves over to the Grace of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit and give how He leads. I trust you and I trust God! I bet that we will find that we give more than before! And not just money and not just to the church. My prayer is that you live generous lives and that you share your lives and resources with others at all times. May you have open hands and freely share the love of Christ with everyone you meet. May God bless you and lead you to support His work both here locally and globally so the nations will bow and worship the Lord! May we all excel at the grace of giving! Remember, we are blessed to be a blessing!
One Other Note:
Tonight, the worship and prayer time was awesome! We had over 40 adults come out for an extended time in God’s presence. We worshipped Him and entered into a time of seeking God and asking Him to search our hearts and purify us. Many folks really met with God. Then, we broke into three groups to intercede for our church in the areas of furthering our passion for Christ, experiencing God’s presence and healing in our families and personal relationships, and praying for those we know who do not know Christ. We had an incredible time, and I wish that each of you had been there! God is moving in our hearts and is drawing us closer to Him! May we find our joy in the Lord.
Also, I will not be preaching on giving next Sunday! I think that we have got it and I praise God for making our church into such a generous, sacrificially giving church. May God bless you richly!