The Grace of Giving

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.
2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.
4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately, not all church members understand what I am about to say, but ‘Giving’ financially to the support of your church and Christ kingdom is a ministry. Our word minister is translated from the Greek word for ‘serve.’ It is related to agency or instrumentality and in the Christians sense, it is God working through you to serve or help others {8:1}. You have the distinct privilege of helping countless numbers of people by giving.

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Let me give you an example, one that is very fresh. June’s nephew Jason gave Joe David $2,000 for the Guatemala Trip but Joe David already had all the bases covered so they used the money to feed hungry people. The money Jason gave will feed 30 families for three months. God used Jason through the agency of GRACE MINISTRIES to serve, to help 30 Guatemalan families. Jason got involved in the MINISTRY OF GIVING and through the ministry of Joe David’s team and Teddy’s organization thirty families were helped.

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One more example: You can give a dollar to the Gideon’s in memory of Tom and they will purchase and place a N.T. in the hand of a child, soldier, nurse, etc. You can donate $5 and they will place a bible in a hospital room or motel. The Gideon’s are an international agency, in more than 200 countries. They have distributed over 2 billion bibles in 95 languages. My friend Rodney Lamar Browning was saved by one of those bibles in a motel room in NYC back in 1970. My daughter Hannah was saved when a Gideon speaker came to DBC 34 years ago. Here is the thing: if you give a dollar of five, you must give it by faith. You will never know if someone came to know Christ due to your gift, not in this life, but by placing that small gift into the hands of such an effective agency the odds are in your favor. Isn’t this exciting! Not to some Baptist.

So I want to talk to you tonight about the MINISTRY OF GIVING and we will use the Philippians as an example….Note how they gave…

I. THEY GAVE SACRIFICALLY

[v.2-3] They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosityFor I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.

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The Macedonian churches {Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea} were being persecuted and suffering financially from the persecution. The churches were having a hard time financially. I don’t think Paul wanted them to take part because he says himself that they were very poor. I guess someone forgot to tell them their were poor because they not only gave, they gave more than they could afford and far more than Paul expected.

I think you would agree that most people give what they can afford and very few give more. William Barclay says, “It is not always those who are wealthy who are most generous.” Our problem is that we confuse Generosity with the amount. Jesus doesn’t get these confused. In Luke 21 we have an example of what I am talking about….

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.
2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.
3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.
4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Our generosity is determined by what we have left after we give. We are not to give with the motive of getting back. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. For our gift to be a sacrifice, we have to give up something.

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Several weeks ago, I got a call from the precious lady who took care of June and I in Seminary. She will be 90 her birthday. She can’t drive and her grandkids have put her in an assisted living in Metorie Louisana which is a suberb of New Orleans. She had talked her son in to bringing her home for two or three days {Ashville, Ala} and wanted to know if I could come and see her and so June and I went down. Her late husband was a truck driver and made good money but he didn’t save it so all she has is a SS check which isn’t much. When June and I were in Seminary, we thought they were rich because her husband was making $600 a week, a lot of money in 1971. Knowing that she has a hard time and feeling a debt to her for all she did for us, I gave her half of my allowance for gas money. I thought about it before I gave and I felt I should give it without expecting any return so I gave it and I was broke by Thursday of the week. I was at Huntsville Hospital on Friday of that week and all I had was the change in the ask tray of the car. Fifty dollars would be no sacrifice to most folks but it was to me because it meant I had to give up some things in order to give it. I have a friend, a good friend who give $500 per week to his church building fund. This is not his tithe, it is an offering on top of what he already gives. This means he gives $26,000 per year to the building fund, which is a lot more than I give entirely. I’ve been told that he is worth 8-10 million dollars.

II. THEY GAVE FREELY

[v.3] For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will.

They exercised their free will

The Philippians were poor people because they were being persecuted. Not only did the Jews hate and mistreat Christians, the Roman world was not fond of them either. It had cost the Philippians to follow Christ but they were not complaining. As a matter of fact, Paul was shocked at their generous gift. 

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How did the Philippians come to be so generous? {ANSWER} They choose to of their own free will. Why was Tom Bennich generous? At some point in his life, he made a decision, “I want to be remembered as a generous man.” No one forced Tom to be generous and no one is going to force you. I told Edith last week that Tom had a disciple that he didn’t know anything about. Tom’s generosity so impressed a certain young man that he said, “I want to be like Tom.” Actually two men made a huge impression on this young man, Tom’s impression was on the positive side but the other man was a miser. The young man looked at the contrast and he said, “I want to be like Tom.”

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If you are saying “Its too late,” you could be right or you could be wrong, that too is up to you. Ebeneezer Scrooge was an old man before he learned to give and so was John D. Rockefeller. The doctor told Rockefeller to prepare for his death because he could not digest food. Once Rockefeller realized that the doctor was serious and that he was going to die, he made a change and began giving money away. Without him being aware of what was going on or what made the difference, he began to digest his food and get better physically. Greed was literally killing him and he lived for many more years.

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So who makes the call, who determines whether or not you are going to get into the MINISTRY OF GIVING?  [ANSWER: You do! By exercising your free will] Look at 2 Corinthians 2:9, You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a cheerful giver.”

III. THEY GAVE THANKFULLY

{v.4} They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 

They understood the privilege of Giving

I gave $500 to the Mission Offering last Sunday and I enjoyed every minute of it. The check I put into the plate came from Edith Bennich. It was as easy as falling off a log. I was never tempted to keep the money. I was simply giving for someone else. Edith used me as an instrument, an agent to give in her behalf. I was having so much fun in the process that I had a thought: giving someone else’s money is easier than giving your own. Then I had another thought: every dime I have given belonged to someone else.

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The only reason I can give, the only reason you can give is because God has given to us first. He is allowing you the privilege of being His agent in the ministry of giving but it is HIS MONEY that you and I are giving. God could very easily take away your privilege to give by taking away your ability to give. The Philippians did not want to miss the privilege of giving to the Christians in Jerusalem. They wanted a part in this ministry. Evidently, Paul didn’t ask them to participate because their condition was as bad or worse than that in Jerusalem. They wouldn’t take no for an answer.

IV.  THEY GAVE SPIRITUALLY 

{v.5} They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

How do we give spiritually?

  1. Pray about what you are to give. Let God direct you in your giving. You will give what you can afford but sometimes God will challenge you to give more than you can afford.
  2. Commit your life to him before you give money. God does not want your money or necessarily need it, He wants YOU. Money is easier to give than “self.” Those who pretend to be committed yet do not give are only fooling themselves. Giving is a test of your love, to see if it is genuine. You cannot stop love from giving. You can give without loving but you can’t love without giving.
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