June 28, 2009
?Proper 8 (B)
2 Corinthians 8:7-15

?Paul could command the Corinthian church with apostolic authority to be generous in giving. Three times in this text he declines to do so. He is not appealing to the Law’s demand. Instead he appeals to a number of higher and better motives. Instead of “you must,” he says “you ought.” And he tells us why we ought. There are many good reasons to make us willing givers, five of them are in this brief passage.

I. Generous giving is a proof of the sincerity of love for Christ (2 Corinthians 7:8, 2 Corinthians 8:24).
You might know a man who tells his wife he loves her and wants to make her happy. Yet he spends all his money and time on a big bass boat on the lake. He leaves her at home dressed in rags and living like a scrub woman. Does she have reason to doubt his love? Show me your checkbook, and I will show you where your priorities lie. A second motive for generous giving may surprise some people.

II. It is good to compare your giving to that of other earnest Christians (8:8). 
“I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” Surprising? Earlier in this chapter Paul held up the generous example of the Macedonian believers to the Corinthians. As a pastor, I always made it a point to avoid checking giving records lest I be tempted to partiality. But I was amazed when I did discover in a special fund-raising drive how little some gave who lived large and talked big and how much some gave from modest means.

III. A third motive is the example of Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9).
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
He left the splendor of Heaven. He came down to the sin of this world that He might lift us from our spiritual poverty to the infinite riches of being a part of the family of God. Mankind is by nature greedy and grasping; God is by nature generous. Mankind is either pursuing wealth he does not have or protecting wealth he does have. The example of Jesus is to become poor that He might make others rich. What an example! What a motive for generosity.

IV. Another motive is the desire to do your part.
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).
The collection Paul was gathering was a relief offering for believers in Jerusalem made utterly desolate by an effective economic boycott against them. Paul was not asking that Jerusalem believers be relieved by leaving others destitute. Most people want to feel they are carrying their part of the load.
A preacher went to buy an airline ticket. The clerk learned he was a pastor and began a tirade about churches and their constant appeals for money. “Every time I go to church, it’s money, money, money. I’m going to quit going to church.” About that time she finished the ticket and
handed it across the counter, saying, “That’s $678.”
The pastor picked up the ticket and backed off one step and looked at the clerk in wide-eyed surprise. “$678? ‘Money, money, money’; I don’t want to pay; I just want to go along for the ride.”

V. A final motive is to acknowledge that God is the One who daily supplies our needs.
Paul recalls the story from the wilderness wanderings when God daily sent manna from Heaven. They gathered each day what they needed for that day. “As it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little’” (2 Corinthians 8:15, quoting Exodus 16:18).
To talk about giving at church makes some people uncomfortable. You may be thinking, “They just want my money!” How wrong you are. The church is here to tell the world of God’s indescribable gift. We want you to have Jesus Christ and His free salvation.

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