Monks vow of silence and at the end of year a monk is able to speak a few words.
- First monk says: I think this oatmeal is too runny.
- Year later another monk says: I think this oatmeal is far too lumpy.
- Another year later another monk says: I’m really tired of this arguing about oatmeal.
This week and next the message will address the subject of financial giving. Sometimes people can argue about money in funny ways. My aim with today’s message is to set the groundwork for why giving is reflective of God’s character and how that sets an example for us as Christians. Next week will share several principles for our financial giving.
EXAMINE 2Corinthians 8:9 How Pain of Riches Gains Poverty
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9 “But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also… For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Paul notes the Corinthians have περισσεύω, which literally means all around, or surplus, abundance, exceeding. His message is for the church exceeding in all areas of the Christian life.
- Exceeding in faith.
Earlier, Paul tells Corinthians “for we walk by faith, not sight” (2Cor 5:7). What does it mean to walk by faith? Faith is not a blind leap but an informed conviction. To Paul, and Christians, faith is established in the conviction of true, historical events: Christ died, buried and raised with numerous appearances (1Cor 15:3-8). The Christian faith is not only built upon historic events but God’s promises that bring holiness into our lives (2Cor 7:1). So, exceeding in faith is growing deeper in the gospel and devoted to godliness; learning to hate sin and love God (cf. 2Cor 5:9-10).Illus: Concrete is the mixture of cement, sand, and water. If these are never mixed then the elements stand alone and apart from concrete. If we want our lives to have concrete faith, we must learn to mix head, heart, and hands.
- Faith is saying, “All that I am belongs to God.”
2Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless you fail to meet the test!”
- Exceeding in speech (λόγος) and knowledge
Paul spoke to a Corinthian church was growing in knowledge and doctrine. The Greek culture abounded in logic and reasoning, and Paul wanted them to have speech (logos) of truth with the power of God (cf. 2Cor 6:7). In other words, true knowledge was the ability to make application. Having faith in the truth of God would follow the act of generosity (2Cor 8:7-15, 24).Illus: A young farmer who was a Christian (CF) was having a conversation with another older farmer not a Christian (NCF). The NCF asked the CF how he had such a large harvest that year. The CF replied, “God was faithful to bless those who honor God.” The NCF decided to test the CF with a series of questions:
– If you had 1,000 acres would you dedicate 100 acres to God? CF replied, yes I would.
– If you had 500 acres would you dedicate 50 acres to God? CF replied, yes I would.
– If you had 100 acres would you dedicate 10 acres to God? CF replied, yes I would.
– If you had 10 acres would you dedicate 1 acre to God? CF replied, yes I would.
– If you had 1 acre, would you dedicate 1/10 acre to God? CF replied, quit playing, you know I can’t give that much and have to provide for my family.
– – – You see, as long as we’re being hypothetical, it’s easy to say our faith knowledge is lived out in practice. But when we talk reality, we are tested with truth and integrity of our faith understanding and obedience.
- Faith is saying, “All that I have belongs to God… but God entrusts me with a portion to steward.”
1Cor 6:20 “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
- Exceeding in earnestness and in love (relationships)
Once again, Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to continue relating to one another in agape. Earnest (σπουδή) carries the idea of swiftness or speed; so the message is quick to love members in the church. While Paul has defended his ministry and apostleship, he also is defending the mission, and thus requesting the Corinthians to be generous in giving to meet the needs of others.
- Be cautious of speaking behind a screen what you wouldn’t say to a face.
- Christians must remember we will spend eternity together, so we might as well learn to love your church family bc there won’t be any church hopping in heaven.
- Swiftness to love is evidenced by meeting needs as soon as you see them.
- Do you have to pray about calling/visiting a friend who is ill?
- Do you procrastinate prayer to God and care for a person who is overwhelmed at life?
- Do you meet needs when you see them because you assume someone else will initiate and undertake the task?
à Which describes our love for one another?
Earnest – swift – rush – expeditiously – timely
Slowly – Lumbering – Plodding
– – – @spbc we need financial support… but more than that we need investment of your time; life upon life and people helping each other and giving of themselves.
- Love is the path from changing old to new.
- Exceed in this act of grace also [giving]
Paul’s aim is for the Corinthians to join with the churches of Macedonia to take part in the relief of the saints (2Cor 8:4; Rom 15:25-27). At the Jerusalem church, there was great poverty due to the pilgrimage dispersion of peoples (Acts 2:9-10), the persecution of Christians ostracized by family and blacklisted from jobs (John 16:2; Acts 8:1), and the overall poverty and famine of the land (Acts 11:27-29). Yet, the early church stepped up to meet the needs of Christian family (cf. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32; 4:34).Illus: There’s a story of a Persian King who reigned in lavish fortune and affluence. His royal palace afforded all the preferences and pleasures any king would delight. Yet, the king had concern for his kingdom and the common people. His concern was filled with such compassion that it frequently drove him to dress as a poor man, leave the palace, and mingle with the lowliest of subjects. One day he visited a servant, whose job was to heat the water in the bathhouse. The servant was dressed in tattered clothes and each day toiled to gather wood and tend the fire. The disguised king would have lunch each day with the servant while he tended the fire. The servant shared his meager meal of hard bread and lukewarm water with his guest. Their conversations ranged from advice on family relations, business, national politics, foreign affairs, and to faith. The servant opened his heart and entire life with this king disguised as an unknown traveler.
After many months of compassionate friendship, the king could stand it no longer. He wanted to bless this poor servant and asked what gift could he give that would be of help to his life. The servant had little reply and just continued to look in the face of this disguised traveler. The king asked more specifically, “If I could grant you a gift to help your life, what would it be?” The servant finally responded, “Yes, my lord, I understood you the first time. But you leaving your palace each day just to partake of my meager food and extend friendship by listening to my troubles and hopes – there is no more precious gift you could give. You may have given great possessions or power to others, but to me you gave yourself. If I may, I only ask that you never withdraw your friendship from me.”
– – – This parable illustrates the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The king of heaven left His glorious throne to become a friend of sinners. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2Cor 8:9).
- We give because God is generous. His gift of the gospel of Jesus is our source and supply for giving to others.
- There is no greater gift to give to others than oneself.
- Life is short to not share love.
- Have you shared Jesus with those closest to you?
- Next week will share principles for giving…
- Know Pain of Riches Gains Poverty… we must become poor in spirit (brokenness) to gain riches.
- Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus / Look full in His wonderful face /
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim / In the light of His glory and grace
 Adapted from John MacArthur, NT Commentary, 2Corinthians 8:9.