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The Call to Generosity

Notes & Transcripts

The Call to Generosity

2Corinthians 8:1-15               December 7, 2003

 

Scripture Reading:

2Corinthians 8:1-15

Introduction:

If I were to ask you what two of the main themes of the Christmas season are you would no doubt list joy and generosity.

Every Christmas we sing “Joy to the World” because of the birth of Jesus.

And every Christmas we sing “We Three Kings” because they gave him gifts.

After all “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son --- .”

And even though it isn’t the Christmas Story, we have covered the ground of joy in last week’s message in 2Corinthians and it has brought us to the theme of generosity for the remaining weeks of Advent until Christmas.

Indeed, our joy should move us toward generosity at any time we consider what God has given us in Christ Jesus the Lord.

This is the reason we give gifts to each other at Christmas and the reason we give gifts back to God for his earthly work through the church.

It is fitting that we should be at that place at this time – to study the extended theme of generosity in 2Corinthians 8 and 9 to see what we should learn about it.

The Call / The Ethics / The Rewards of Generosity

Beginning in 2Corinthians 8, Paul puts forth a call to generosity to the Corinthian church, but this is not his first call, it is a renewed call.

His concern is not only giving in general, but a specific project he first mentioned to them in 1Cor. 16:1-4 that had to do with a widespread offering he wanted the gentile churches to make to the Jerusalem church because of their overwhelming poverty.

“1 ¶ Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-4 NIVUS)

Their poverty probably stemmed either from famine (Acts 11:27-30) or persecution (Acts 8:1).

Paul was probably moved by other factors as well, such as the fact that the Jerusalem church was the ‘mother’ church that the gentile churches owed a certain amount of respect and care for having sent the apostles to them.

Also, the Jerusalem church, being mostly Jews, would find the loving concern of the gentiles a great gesture of good will regarding some of the cultural differences that had threatened to separate them.

There were many reasons for this renewed call to generosity.  

You see, what had happened was that their willingness to give became stymied, thwarted and cut off because of all the internal problems at the church.

Satan can come in and stir things up to such a degree, especially among the immature, like the Corinthians were, to throw off and divert God’s work.

They had good intentions, started well (9:2-3), but completed nothing as of yet (8:10-11).

Paul has been dealing with their problems but has now developed his theological arguments toward the practicality of proof.

Their generosity would be the ‘rubber on the road’ – it was time to go somewhere with it.

Their generosity was one of the first things to fade as their infighting took precedence.

Now Paul wants to put it in perspective for them again. We too can learn some things from this.

ILLUS: Chicago Tribune 12/3/03, “Bungling burglars sought in Will County”

Just like these “Home Alone” bandits bungled their taking, we can bungle our giving. Now, no one is called to be such a taker, but we are all called to be givers. Do we sometimes bungle our giving, like the Corinthians, just like these burglars bungled their burglaring? They caused a lot of damage while failing to steal anything. Can we sometimes cause a lot of damage while failing to give anything? What good our gifts could have done is not done until they are given.

In spite of all of this, Paul wanted to think the best of the Corinthians even as he called them to account.

He wanted to teach them, and us, about our call to generosity towards the Lord’s work.

We are like Brian Turnbull from CA and his taxi driver, Abraham Otenaike, in Chicago as Turnbull got a ride to his radiological convention at McCormick Place.

ILLUS: Chicago Tribune 12/4/03, “Cabbie finds honesty is a policy that pays”

Otenaike called himself a Christian and acted on his faith. He gave back what wasn’t his. All we have is from God and not ours. It is as if we have found it and therefore must discover its rightful owner. And as we are willing to return what isn’t ours to begin with, God then gives us what we never expected. Or, like Turnbull, we find that we have nothing after all and when, by God’s grace, we receive, we respond with profuse generosity.

Truly, we are called to generosity toward God and toward one another.

Big Question:

What must we understand about our call to generosity toward God’s work?

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because of God’s grace.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because we have little to give.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God is already rich.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God initiates desire.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God owns us.

Generosity of heart that God begins by grace must also be completed by grace.

Generosity is a natural result of everything we believe, say and know about God.

Generosity toward God’s work is the test of sincerity in our love for God.

Generosity toward God’s work is the hallmark of Christ’s own sincerity of love.

Generosity does not count unless it is completed.

Generosity is a matter of heart first and of possessions second.

Generosity is an economic equalizer ordained by God for the good of his people.

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (v. 1)

          B.      Implication

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because of God’s grace.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (v. 2)

          B.      Implication

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because we have little to give.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (v. 3)

          B.      Implication

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God is already rich.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 4)

          B.      Implication

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God initiates desire.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

V.      Cycle Five

          A.      Narrative (v. 5)

          B.      Implication

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God owns us.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VI.    Cycle Six

          A.      Narrative (v. 6)

          B.      Implication

Generosity of heart that God begins by grace must also be completed by grace.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VII.   Cycle Seven

          A.      Narrative (v. 7)

          B.      Implication

Generosity is a natural result of everything we believe, say and know about God.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VIII.  Cycle Eight

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 8)

          B.      Implication

Generosity toward God’s work is the test of sincerity in our love for God.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IX.    Cycle Nine

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 9)

          B.      Implication

Generosity toward God’s work is the hallmark of Christ’s own sincerity of love.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

X.      Cycle Ten

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 10-11)

          B.      Implication

Generosity does not count unless it is completed.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

XI.    Cycle Eleven

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 12)

          B.      Implication

Generosity is a matter of heart first and of possessions second.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

XII.   Cycle Twelve

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 13-15)

          B.      Implication

Generosity is an economic equalizer ordained by God for the good of his people.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

What must we understand about our call to generosity toward God’s work?

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because of God’s grace.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because we have little to give.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God is already rich.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God initiates desire.

We are called to generosity toward God’s work because God owns us.

Generosity of heart that God begins by grace must also be completed by grace.

Generosity is a natural result of everything we believe, say and know about God.

Generosity toward God’s work is the test of sincerity in our love for God.

Generosity toward God’s work is the hallmark of Christ’s own sincerity of love.

Generosity does not count unless it is completed.

Generosity is a matter of heart first and of possessions second.

Generosity is an economic equalizer ordained by God for the good of his people.

Timeless Truth:

God’s generosity overwhelms, empowers, and demands our own generosity.

Is He calling upon you?

How will you respond?

After all, the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (that is, the things of this world) but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Do you need some practical suggestions?

We have some listed for you on the back of today’s bulletin. (List them.)

Your joy both fosters generosity and then benefits from it.

Let go and live generously and live well.

You can continue this instruction on generosity by returning this evening to watch the video, “Flywheel”.

At first glance this video would seem to be all about honesty.

But a deeper look would better support generosity.

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