For the week commencing 21 July 2019

Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Giving as planned, generous and cheerful 2 Cor 9:1-8

With a PDF found here

Next Sunday we continue our 2-week series on the joy of giving. Here’s the outline:

21 July    Giving as a grace and a privilege                          2 Cor 8:1-9

28 July    Giving as planned, generous and cheerful   2 Cor 9:1-8

DAY 1: Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-15

Although next Sunday’s message will focus in on 2 Corinthians 9:1-8, it is good to read that passage in its context. Hence, we start back in chapter 8 today and pick up where we left off on Sunday.

Note first (even back in v8) that Paul is not commanding conformity to strict rules and regulations here. He is commending generosity, after the pattern of our generous God in the gift of his Son, but he is not laying down the law. He is testing sincerity – yes – and you might say he’s putting a moral obligation on them; however, he really does want to see the grace of God at work in them, so that they give freely, generously and cheerfully.

Obviously, the Corinthians had begun to make a response to the call to help the poor in Jerusalem. Paul’s call now to them is to finish what they started. We all know what it’s like to begin to get behind a project, only to lose interest after a time!  The fact that they had started to respond was an indication of their willingness; now Paul urges that their willingness be matched by action to bring what they started to completion.

What a precious principle is v12! – if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. Remember Jesus’ story of the widow’s mite? It is our heart that is important in all this – not dollar amounts!

Finally in this section, note that the aim for God’s people is equality and reciprocity in helping one another in a time of need. When we consider all our poor brothers and sisters across the world, there is still a lot more that can be done in this area!

DAY 2: Read 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

Dealing with money in the context of church can always be tricky. It is very important that everything is above board. Paul makes this very clear from the beginning as can be seen in this passage: v20 – we want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man. So Titus and two other trusted brothers will visit Corinth and oversee the transmission of the gift.

You may be interested to know that as minister here, I regard propriety with our finances very highly. For that reason, I do not transport the offering between sites nor accept donations personally unless unavoidable. I do not know who gives what amounts to our church. Only our treasurer and churchwardens have access to our bank accounts. For we are taking pains to do what is right.

In all our dealings with money – privately and as a church – there must be absolute propriety!

DAY 3: Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

Again, I love the freedom expressed here. This is not – “you shall give 10%”! For many of us 10% will involve little in the way of sacrifice! No, the New Testament is much more searching. Be generous after the pattern of the Lord Jesus, who generously gave his very life!!

Note the importance of decision making. No one should give what is left over in their purse or wallet at the end of the week. All our giving should be intentional, generous; not under compulsion but cheerful. It’s a joy to give and there will be blessing involved (v6) – the joy of seeing how the Lord takes and uses what you have been able to give, for the Lord is able to ‘enlarge the harvest of your righteousness’ (v10). That is, whatever amount you are able to give, the Lord is able to take that and multiply its effect in the work of the Kingdom. Furthermore, he will enable your ongoing generosity (v11) – all of which will result in thanksgiving to God (vv11 and 12).

These two amazing chapters finish where they began – the grace of giving (v14).  I don’t think we often see giving as a gift!! We see each new day as a gift. Our health as a gift. Our families as a gift. We see Jesus’ death on the cross for us a gift. We see our forgiveness and eternal life as gifts. We see the Holy Spirit as a gift. We see the church as a gift, the Bible as a gift and God’s love for us as a gift. We understand the gifts we are given by the Spirit – hospitality, speaking, leading, prophesying, administration. But giving? We often see it as a duty. A burden. A chore. We are often reluctant givers.

Brothers and sisters, generosity is a gift and a privilege. Have you been pleading lately for this gift?

DAY 4: Read Psalm 27

We finish again with a Psalm this week and some brief reflection questions:

  • V1 when the Lord is our light, our salvation and our stronghold, we need have no fears! Vv2-3 give astonishing examples. Our fears can often cripple us, but when we go back to the Lord and depend on him, we can find release from our fears, perspective, and then come to know the Lord’s abiding peace. I hope you might do that today with whatever or whomever is causing you fear!
  • V5 do we have a sense (and peace) about being kept safe in God’s presence? Not, under the new covenant, in God’s temple, but in his presence because he dwells within us by his Spirit!
  • V8 note how David urges himself to seek God’s face – that is – to seek his presence. Do you urge yourself to do that?
  • Note the desire to be taught the ways of God – v11. Do you have that same desire to be taught by the Lord himself? Is your prayer, ‘teach me your way Lord’? How blessed are we if that is our desire, to be able to turn to God’s word and learn of him!
  • Finally, note the confidence David has in seeing God’s goodness at work. He coaches himself to be strong and wait for Him – vv13-14. Do you have confidence in God’s goodness and wise sovereign hand in your life at the moment? And will you be ‘be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’ – no matter what?

Mark Calder