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Work Your Plan, Give away 033014. 2 Cor 9

TRANSCRIPT

March 30, 2014 Session 5 Work Your Plan. Commentary

The Passage: 2 Corinthians 9:6-13

The Point: Our generous giving should glorify God and reflect Christs giving.

[Our culture applauds philanthropy, giving for the needs and benefits of others. Close to two-thirds (65%) of all families engage in some form of charitable giving. That is applaudable, but when the average contribution is put up against the median household income, Americans only give away about four percent of their income. Worldwide, America ranks 13th. No. 1 and No. 2 rankings were Myanmar (85%) and the United Kingdom (76 %). Interestingly, 78% of Americans claim to be Christian, 59% of British claim to be Christian and about 4% on Buddhist Myanmar claim to be Christian. Go figure! We talk a good game, but when the chips are down . . . show me the money

One would think that those in the church do far better. Unfortunately, the average church attendee only gives about three percent to his or her church. The Bible not only calls believers to give, but we are called to give with great generosity. I think it important here to note that the Bible never teaches that we should give only or even primarily to the church. We are merely to give. Jesus said, True religion is to care for the widows and orphans.

How much do you think Jesus gave to the church? It depends on which church you are talking about. His first church was the temple and Ill bet He gave a tithe. However, for His other church, He, like the widow with the mite, gave all He had.

The Setting: We continue our study from 2 Corinthians 89, where Paul addressed the issue of an offering that was being collected for the benefit of suffering believers in Jerusalem. Paul reminded the church at Corinth that the principle of sowing and reaping applies to giving. The Corinthians could be free and generous, knowing that God would use their gift and provide for them.

This is the third successive session on giving. First, we saw the power of giving, then the process of giving, and now the result of giving. Yes, this lesion is apparently kicking a dead horse.

However, I submit that there is still something God want to say to us or maybe just to me, about these scriptures. ][footnoteRef:1] [1: Editors notes.]

As to money, Jesus evidently thought our attitude and use of money was a key to our spiritual well-being, for He had much to say about money.

Non-Christians can be generous, but Christians generosity does more than simply meet needs, it draws people to Christ. Thus, the Point: Our generous giving should glorify God and reflect Christs giving.

Lets see what Paul has to say in 2 Corinthians 9.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

6 Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.

7 Each person should do as he has decided in his heartnot reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.

KEY WORDS: Reluctantly (v. 7)Genuine Christian benevolence is defined by the attitude of the giver. To give reluctantly (literally, out of sadness or sorrow, thus grudgingly) is not pleasing to the Lord.

Cheerful (v. 7)Giving with a cheerful attitude delights the Lord. This Greek word is behind the English hilarious. It describes an attitude of happy compliance or cooperation. Christian giving is a blessing, not a burden.

This is the third successive session on giving. First, we saw the power of giving, then the process of giving, and now the result of giving. How do you feel about teaching number three? I hope you are feeling enthusiastic. Jesus evidently thought our attitude and use of money was a key to our spiritual well-being, for He had much to say about money.

Do we really need such a strong emphasis on giving? Christianity Today reports the average churchgoer gives less than three percent of household income through the church.1 Experience also shows that only a very small percent of churchgoers tithe (give 10 percent of their income).

Paul has provided some valuable spiritual principles about giving. He already had declared generous giving is beneficial for the giver (2 Cor. 8:10). In 9:6 he expanded that thought: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Paul was saying that those who give generously would profit the most from their giving.

The decisions we make about giving are personal. You cannot decide what I should give, nor can I decide for you. Paul obviously understood that, for he went on to say each person should do as he has decided in his heart. Notice the two verbs in that statement: do and decided. We first make the decision about what to give. Then we are to do what we decided to do. Did Paul really need to say that?

Maybe you have been inspired by worthy appeals and decided to give far more than your usual response. When you got home later and took out your checkbook, you peeked at the balance and the nearby stack of unpaid bills. Did you do as you decided?

Lets admit that acting on a decision to give generously can be scary. It may mean deferring a major purchase or becoming vulnerable to some unforeseen expense. Paul encouraged believers to make up their minds and to follow through.

Paul added that our giving should be done with an attitude that pleases God. We are not to give reluctantly (Ill give, but I really dont want to) or out of necessity (Ill give because I have no choice). That is not pleasing to God, for God loves a cheerful giver.

What helps us give cheerfully? On a number of occasions my wife and I have had to work through a bit of uncertainty and anxiety over an offering. Over the years weve learned three things help us give cheerfully: (1) Knowing the cause to which we give is in line with Gods purposes. He wants us to make disciples everywhere, so gifts through the church for local, national, and worldwide evangelism and benevolence is a given. Among His concerns also is meeting the needs of poor and disadvantaged people for food, clothing, shelter, jobs, and the like. Giving to individuals and organizations devoted to giving practical help to people certainly squares with divine purposes.

(2) Having confidence the agencies to which we give are good stewards of the funds they receive. While every organization has administrative expenses, some seem to push the envelope at that point. We appreciate the work of many fine organizations and give to them. Lately, we have decided to make most of our gifts to agencies that transparently are good stewards and offer their help in Jesus name. For instance, when natural disasters occur, we give to our denominations disaster relief program. By the same token, 100 percent of our denominations world hunger offering is used by our missionaries to feed hungry people overseas.

(3) Being convinced the Lord is leading us to give a particular amount. These three factors give us a deep peace and enable us to give with joy and satisfaction.

2 Corinthians 9:8-9

8 And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.

9 As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.

Paul assured the believers in Corinth that giving generously and cheerfully according to what they had (see 8:12) would not leave them up a creek without a paddle. Our Lord is worthy of our trust for salvation, and Hes just as worthy of our trust in the matter of generous Christian giving.

The word translated grace basically carries the ideas of graciousness, favor, and help. We typically think of grace in terms of the Lords gracious provision for our salvation (saved by grace, Eph. 2:8). In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul wrote about Gods grace as it relates to generous giving. God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. Gods grace toward us provides bountifully in every way. His gracious provision for meeting our needs for giving will overflow. Always having everything we need is His assurance He will provide more than is required to enable us to give what He guides in every situation.

When God blesses us materially, we dare not lose focus on why He does so. His purpose in ensuring gracious givers have everything they need is so that they may excel in every good work. Do you get it? Gods bountiful provision is not to enhance our reputation or to put us on easy street. Rather it is to enable us to do the good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

[What its really about? Pastor Doug Olive used to say that we should, use things and love people. Instead, I fear we have gotten that reversed. Our society tends to love things and use people. But, its not our fault. There actually is a reason for it.

Francis Schaeffer, in How Should We Then Live, and again in The God Who is There, shows us historically how we, humans and Christians have gradually, over the millennia, lost our way about the nature of God, people and stuff. In so doing, our society begins to crumble, as it has no foundation of absolute truths upon which to rest. He states that it thus follows that our once held values of truth, justice, love, kindness, generosity, beauty, and all the virtues have been traded for two succeeding cardinal values: personal peace, and affluence.

Since neither of these is actually completely attainable, we live in a constant state of personal and societal worry and chaos. Albert Einstein is quoted as defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If Schaffer and Ein