Grace Giving Leads To Grace Living

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:10-15

10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it.
11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.
12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality.
14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.
15 As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”

INTRODUCTION

For some time we have been talking about the MINISTRY OF GIVING. Paul said back in verse 7, Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. Literally in the Greek it is just one work ‘charis’…it would read ‘excel in this grace.’ The grace that Paul is speaking of is the act of giving. You cannot separate grace from giving.


In verses 10-15, we will look for the characteristics of GRACE GIVING.

I. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL DEVOTION

It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. [v.10-11]


The Corinthians wanted to be a part of the benevolent offering that was going to Jerusalem and they began the project with great enthusiasm but they fizzled out. Paul reminds them that it was there idea to get in on this project but they needed to finish what they had started. In essence, they promised to give to the Jerusalem project but they never followed through. Paul here challenges them to keep their promise.

It is not always so, but giving should be an act of worship. It should be a show of devotion, a proof of sincere love. The Corinthians need to give was as great as the Jerusalem’s need to recieve. The Dead Sea is not a giver. All the Dead Sea does is recieve. It is located in a crater 1,400 feet below sea level, and then it is another 1,000 feet to the bottom. It is the deepest salt lake in the world. There are no channels leading out, no way for it to flow or overflow and thus you have a dead sea, a lifeless body of water. It cannot refresh, not can it provide food.

Dr. Warren Wiersbe says there are two kinds of giving, [1] Hand giving and [2] Heart giving. A house wife asked her husband for the weekly expense money but it slipped his mind. He thought of it when they got to church and during the service he handed her a hand full of money they she didn’t look at or count. She thought he gave her the money for the offering so she put the whole amount in the plate. When the service was over, they discovered what they had done. They didn’t know whether to panic, to ask for some of the money back or to laugh. They decided to laugh. The husband said, “At least God will give us credit for the full amount.” Dr. Wiersbe’s question was, “Will God give them credit for what they gave or what they intended to give.”

What if someone is in the service and they don’t have anything to give? Let’s suppose they want to give very much but have no ability: will God give them credit for their intentions? I think He can because He knows are true intentions. In this sense, a gift from the heart is better than one from the hand.

God sees the proportion, not the portion. He sees not only what we give but what we have left after giving but more importantly, He sees the heart, our motive for giving. Remember, “Motive is everything to God.”

When a person refuses to get involved in the ministry of giving, who do they hurt most? Think about it! They hurt themselves because they become a vertual dead sea, taking but never giving.

II. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF THE WILL

Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. [v.11]

This word ‘eager’ or ‘eagerness’ is an interesting word, the Greek word is  prothymia. Pro is a preposition meaning ‘before’ and ‘thymos’ means heat. Paul is saying: let your giving be pre-heated. I am not much of a baker but my wife is and she pre-heats the oven before she puts the cake in. In other words, as a conscious act of the will, she gets the oven ready to bake by pre-heating the oven. This is the way we are to give: we are to think things through and make a conscious decision as to what we are going to give and then give it willingly and according to plans.

Some have suggested that the giving here [v.13-14] is referring to communism [Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equalityRight now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. ] They also refer to Acts 4:32 [Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common] However, this is not communism because, the giving is all voluntary. People are giving as an act of the free will. Giving, in the body of Christ, is never to be forced. Resist all forms of high-pressure in the matter of giving. God is not the author of forced giving. Dr. Wiersbe said, “I have put my offering back in my pocket after hearing a supposed man of God us high pressure tactics.” Mark Twain said, “I was so sick of the appeal that not onldy did I not give what I intended to give, I took a bill out when the plate came by.”

One of our deacons said just days ago that he was mystified at the way our church gives to evangelist. We had evangelist back to back on the second and third Sundays of the month and both got great offerings, over $5,000 and we are a small church. Our total budget is less than $8,000 per week. I used no pressure whatsoever.

Some years ago, our church was in a joint venture with our Association and a certain pastor who thinks he is gifted in rasing money did one of these high pressure jobs and many of our folks were offended. They used this as an excuse to stay away. When the same project came up the following year, they ask me to be the finance chairman. I said, “Under one condition, I promote the offering and no high pressure will be used.” I kept my word but it was no use, the damage had been done. I firmly believe that where God guides He will provide. In the old days, I got a bigger hammer but I have learned that God is speaking to us through peoples lack of interest. Either way, I will not use high pressure.

III. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF WISDOM [Common Sense]

Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. [v.11-13]


God gave us a brain and He expects us to use it. I am going to say some things that you have never heard a preacher say but before I do, let me tell you that radical, extreme giving is sometimes legitimate, just make sure it is God leading you to give and no your guilty conscience or someone else. I have given sacrifically at times but I have never given all that I had. I have given all that I had on me several times but I am speaking of all my assets.


Paul has already told us that the Macadonians gave more than they could afford and Paul commnended them for doing so but he is not asking the Corinthians to give more than they can afford, he is challenging them to give in proportion to what God has blessed them with.


“I thought Jesus asked the Rich Young Ruler to give everything he had.” You are right, He did but Jesus knew that money was his god. Jesus didn’t ask the rich women who traveled with him and supported him financially to give all they had. Why not?


If you give all you have [not saying don’t, I’m saying make sure God told you to do it] it is a one time gift. Once you do it, your giving days are over. You can take a vow of poverty but that moves you from the giving line to the recieving line. Personally, I hope God allows me to stay in the giving line but use your common sense, those who have nothing can give nothing. You cannot give what you do not have.


At least 20 years ago probably longer, a Benedictine Monk rode to Washington D.C. with me and back. To be a Benedictine Monk, you take a vow of poverty. Some one from the monostery drove him to Hartselle and dropped him off at the shell station near the interstate. I picked him up there and he didn’t have a cent on him. DBC furnished the vehicle, I paid for the gas, his meals and his motel room. You say, “Actually, God used you to pay for his meals, motel and transportation.” To that I would agree but the point is, someone has to be a giver for this thing to work.


Paul said, “I’m not asking you to give so that the recievers of the gift will have more than yourself…Paul wanted things to equal out. I have a problem with a lot of things. I don’t like the way Rex Humbard and Jimmy Swaggart do business. I don’t want to take from widows and orphans. If I have more than you, I’m not letting you buy my lunch. I don’t want you to be poor at my expense. I learned this lesson years ago. I had an experience that I still can’t talk about without it offending certain people. Some folks planned an anniversary celebration for myself and family and they did the infamous “Money Tree.” Never do a money tree! It is a horrible idea. I found out later that it was one persons idea and the others didn’t want to do it in the first place because they were doing something else that involved a sizable expenditure which they felt was more than adequate and I would agree. When my family turned the corner and I saw that pitiful money tree with $37 taped to the dead branches, my heart sank, I was deeply embarrassed, yea even humilited. Someone grossly underestimated my pride. I told my wife to get it out of sight immediately and she did: it wasn’t till later that she actually counted the $37. Then in comes a truck driver who saw what had happened and he gets his billfold out and I told him to put it back: I accept your gift but you keep it. The man had a house filled with children and was not even a member of the church. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was take his money.


God expects you to plan, pray and think before you give. Our giving should be wise. I’m very afraid that I will be held accountable for foolish giving.

IV. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF FAITH

Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.  As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.” [v.14-15]


Notice the “Now” and the “Later.” We give is good faith. We give now believeing we will be rewarded later. Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given unto you.” Personally, I do look at giving as a loss, it is always a gain to me. I’m no huge giver by any stretch of the imagination but I do love to give and I also enjoy recieving. Most of what I have was given to me by somebody. I have a brand new box blade that I hope to get to use this week: it was a gift. I have a brand new spray rig for my tractor, it was a gift. I’m going to get a new bush hog and it will be a gift, the money has already been given. I have two sets of golf clubs, both gifts but I don’t know where one of the sets is at the time. June and I went on the cruise of a lifetime and it was a gift; something we would never have done otherwise. If you have seen me at a COLS, you have seen my Hart Schaffner Marx Gold Line suit that retailed for $1,000. Why do I have such an expensive suit? It was a gift. Those who know me, know that I would never spend $1,000 on a suit of clothes or spend $8,000 on a cruise. I am living proof that Jesus knew what He was talking about in Luke 3:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” You cannot outgive Jesus. If you get a spoon, He will get a dipper. If you get a dipper, He will get a jug. If you get a jug, He will get a bucket. If you get a bucket, He will get a barrel. If you get a barrel, He will open the floodgates of heaven and give you a flood. You can’t outgive Him, His pockets have infinite depth. 


By the way, if I understand correctly, heaven is just one big Christmas, recieving every day. Of course that is a figure of speech, no days in heaven, no hours or minutes.