Miss Jennie lovingly cared for our young children during some busy days as pastor and wife. Left by her husband many years before, she reared her own children as a single mother. She lived in low-rent government housing and did washing and ironing to supplement limited resources.
During a campaign to raise funds for a new sanctuary, the church asked for pledges. Following Commitment Sunday, a committee met to tabulate the response and announce the victory. Miss Jennie had made a pledge and one of the committee asked me to tell her she didn’t have resources to do that; others would do her part. I declined that approach and encouraged the committee not to do it either. I knew her experience of grace with Jesus; our family and church nursery were beneficiaries of her gracious love for children. It was natural for Miss Jennie to express the grace of giving.
Grace is a woman’s name and prayer before a meal. We are saved “by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.9), and blessed by “the grace of God bestowed” on us (v.1). To the Corinthian Christians, Paul also uses grace to describe giving. Like them we are also called to “abound in this grace also” (v.7).
Give and demonstrate your love for Christ (v.8)
Too many churchgoers regard giving as a legalistic command. Paul says giving demonstrates “the sincerity of your love.” Flowers, chocolates and other gifts abound on Valentines Day as sweethearts demonstrate their love. Giving is the outward expression of the heart’s condition. The plentiful giving of resources to build the tabernacle started in the heart. “Every one whose heart was stirred” (Ex. 35:21) brought a gift. Giving always moves from heart to hand because giving demonstrates our love for Christ.
Give and follow the example of Christ (v.9)
What motivates your giving – duty, fear or expectation of reward? The grace of giving follows the example of Christ. Christians act like Christ. He gave; we give. He left the riches of glory for the poverty of humanity, doing it all for our sake. I don’t have to give; I want to give. The Macedonian congregation followed His example. Amidst economic scarcity they gave with an “abundance of joy . . . beyond their ability . . . freely willing . . . imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift” (vv.1-4).
Give and complete your commitment to Christ (vv.10-11)
Commitments and promises are made when we enter the life of grace through repentance and faith. Our baptism marks the turn from the old life to the new life in Christ. Have you grown in the grace of giving since your baptism? We must continue what we started. Let’s not be like Demas who walked away from his commitment “having loved this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10). Keeping the commitment of Christ’s lordship over our resources brings a Christian into the exciting arena of giving “beyond their ability” (v.3). That is the experience of giving by faith – that’s the grace Miss Jennie displayed.
Give and meet needs in the body of Christ (vv.12-15)
The grace of giving is an equalizing force in the body of Christ. Everyone has something to give; everyone has some need to be met. Through giving we participate in “ministering to the saints” (v.4). The early church experienced this provision through giving. “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked” (Acts 4: 34).
See that you abound in this grace also.
Sermon brief provided by: Bill Whittaker, President, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, Pineville, KY