Generosity Part IV
- 25 June 2021
II Corinthians 9:10-15.
Did you know that it is God’s will that you should be rich?
Let me explain what I mean by that:
Look with me at II Corinthians 9:10 – 11.
10. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This information was first written to a relatively wealthy urban congregation in first century Corinth.
They comprised women and men – who through God’s grace (his undeserved kindness in allowing his Son, the Lord Jesus, to absorb the punishment for their sin), had been put right with God.
They are now forgiven members of God’s family.
Not because of anything that they have done – but entirely because of God’s kindness and mercy; his desire to rescue them from a forever of alienation and regret.
The privilege of being forgiven and put right with God, carries with it certain responsibilities and expectations.
As God has been exceedingly generous to them, his expectation of the Corinthian Christians (and us) is that they too will exercise grace and mercy to those in their ‘sphere of influence’.
St. Paul has been urging the Corinthians to uphold their financially impoverished sisters and brothers in Christ in Jerusalem, the mother church.
Just as God has generously and graciously forgiven the Corinthian Christians, so too will he faithfully resource them for the work to which he has called them.
In v. 8. Paul promised that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things – at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work”.
Paul is explaining that the Corinthians are in partnership with God.
They are now agents of his grace.
Yes, hiskindness,his mercy, his love, his care will flow through them to others.
And that point is re-stated here in vv.10-11.
Not only will he literally supply the seed they need for their crops, and the bread they need for their table – that is, not only will he provide for them physically and materially…
He will also enable them to sow more seed (through an increased store of seed) and enlarge the harvest of their righteousness – which means that…
He will work through them to bring great blessing to others.
We know this because Paul adds, “you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion….”
The “rich in every way” statement is more accurately rendered, “you will find yourself in full possession of all that you need to exercise grace….”
We must not take this as a promise of vast riches and personal prosperity once we submit our lives to Christ.
The Macedonian Christians remind us that this is not the case.
They were “rich in every way and were generous on every occasion” though humanly speaking, as Paul observes in II Corinthians 8:2, they were extremely poor.
And yet God had not only met their every need, he had also enabled them to be extremely generous.
Here is the point.
When a person is put right with God, that woman or man, boy or girl, is also called into partnership with Him.
Christians are agents of God’s grace.
Not only are we to speak freely and openly to others about God’s love to us in Christ, but we are also to use our God given resources to alleviate need and hardship and to prosper the work of the gospel.
I was in Mildura (in N.W. Victoria) a while back.
It is an area where a desert has been turned into an oasis (in parts).
Irrigation has been the key.
My host took me to a section of the river where the water is pumped into reservoirs and then into a network of irrigation channels.
That water is then fed into drip lines which literally bring life to the vineyards and citrus groves.
It seems to me that Christians are not unlike those irrigation channels.
We are to be conduits or channels of God’s blessing and life to God’s people and God’s world.
And that is why it is God’s will that we should be “rich”.
Rich in the knowledge of his love for us in Christ, and rich in acts of generosity and righteousness – which basically means acting and behaving like our Heavenly Father.
Individually and corporately, like the persecuted and cash strapped church in Macedonia, we are to be actively seeking out ministry opportunities.
In practical terms it will mean, following Paul’s advice to the Corinthian church which we have been considering over the past month, that:
- Our giving is to be consistent.
Paul urged his friends in Corinth to set aside a pre-determined sum of money each week which would then be collected for the struggling church in Jerusalem (II Corinthians 16:2)
- Our giving is to be willing.
Paul enjoined the Corinthian believers to share their resources eagerly and willingly – II Corinthians 8:11 (in much the same manner that the Macedonians shared what little they had with the church in Jerusalem) – not grudgingly or reluctantly – II Corinthians 9:7.
Indeed, the giving which pleases God – is cheerful – II Corinthians 9:7.
- Our giving is to be intelligent.
That is, we are to give according to what we have – and not according to what we do not have. II Corinthians 8:12.
This requires a budget – a careful review of income and outgoings, and a decision as to how much will be set aside for the work of the Kingdom.
Says Paul, “each person should give what he has decided in his heart to give.” II Corinthians 9:7.
On this notion of intelligent giving, you might even like to begin a KingdomInvestment Portfolio. Suzie spoke about this in her interview last Sunday and it was reproduced in Community News.
By that I mean, giving regularly and intentionally to a range of Kingdom-oriented activities.
These might include:
This local church (and I hope it does); a mission agency (like CMS, BCA, MAF), a child support organisation (like Compassion or World Vision), an evangelism society (like Crusaders, or Open Doors, or Jews for Jesus), an aid and development group (like Anglican Aid) and so it goes.
It is a way of diversifying your “Kingdom investments”.
And by taking our responsibilities seriously, three specific outcomes will result.
What are the outcomes?
Let us go to the text again:
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
First, the needs of Gods people will be met – v.12.
Second, our obedience will result in God being honoured and praised – vv.12-13.
Our confession of Christ as Lord and King – our verbal testimony, will be underscored or adorned or validated by our willingness to trust him with our resources; in particular our willingness to generously give them away.
Third, bonds of fellowship and love will be established – v.14.
Those who benefit from our generosity will not only feel a special affinity and love for us – even if our giving is anonymous, their hearts will still be filled with gratitude and thankfulness, they will also uphold us before the throne of grace; they’ll pray for us.
Even if they don’t know us by name – the God to whom they are praying does!
It is a win/win situation; people’s needs are met, God is honoured and glorified, and God is implored, by the Christians we’ve served to in turn meet our needs and prosper our ministries!
Any wonder Paul closes with the exclamation; “thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – v.15.
He is of course referring to Jesus.
For it is in the ministry of Jesus that selfless, generous giving finds its deepest and most profound expression.
God in Christ – breaks into time and space, takes on flesh, and embraces the punishment for sin; he fully absorbs my death and my hell, so that I might go free.
An indescribable gift, an unmerited gift, unparalleled generosity, amazing grace, indeed.