Know Pain, Know Gain (2 Corinthians 8-9; 1Cor 16)

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Our entire life is one of stewardship, and often we count days and dollars.

  • Avg USA person lives 28K days (~78 years) … unless you eat too much bacon, then maybe less, but probably worth it.

    Psalm 90:10, 12 “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty, yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we fly away… So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

    James 4:14 “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

  • Avg USA person earns $1 million in life… depending on variety of factors.

    Luke 16:10 “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”

    Matthew 25:21 “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

We speed through life seasons so quickly, and life can be brief, that we seldom take opportunity to evaluate dollars and days. This week’s message builds from last weeks in 2Cor 8. Today we will view 2Cor 8-9 for principles of using our money for good.

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EXAMINE           2Corinthians 8 – 9                How Pain of Sowing Gains Reaping

As mentioned last week, Paul is writing the Corinthians about their sending a financial offering to the church at Jerusalem. The Jerusalem church had 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; 11:29-30).
1Corinthians 16:1-3 – principles of giving

  • Our giving should be practiced (biblical discipleship): “concerning the collection of the saints” (1Cor 16:1)
    • Giving is not about expanding donors but equipping disciples.
    • Giving is more than philanthropy, it’s obedience. All I am and have belongs to God (1Cor 6:20).
    • Remember, Paul has been aiming to boost his credibility, and talking about money doesn’t usually draw support but deters it. Yet, Paul teaches the topic based on principle of God’s truth.
  • Our giving should be planned (regular/consistent): “on the first day of every week” (1Cor 16:2).
  • Plan to give as you receive… paid twice month/monthly, etc.
  • Our giving should be proportionate (percentage): “each of you… as you may prosper” (1Cor 16:2)
    • Proportionate implies tithing (Lev 27:30-32; Deut 12:4-18; 14:22-23; Num 18:21-29; 27:30). Yet, tithing would be a starting point, with additional offerings in religious and communal life (Deut 12:10-11, 17-18; 14:22-27); offerings of 3.3% to help the poor (Deut 14:28-29), along with allowing crop gleaning for poor and foreigners (Lev 19:9-10), and further added offerings (Neh 10:32-33). Totaling these offerings is well over 23%. Likewise, the NT affirms the tithe (Mat 23:23), while emphasizing gracious and generous giving (Acts 2:45; 2Cor 8/9; Php 4:14-20).
    • “of their own accord” (2Cor 8:3)
    • “according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened” (2Cor 8:12)
      – – – > having money or wealth is not sinful, but we should use money to love God & people instead of using God and people to love money. Our faith in God should not view Jesus as a tool for our own comfort but as a treasure for our joy.
    • “not as an exaction… Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly [with sorrow] or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful [ἱλαρός hilarious]” (2Cor 9:5, 7)
      – – – > God expects us to give… preferably joyfully, but grumpily if necessary than greedy not giving.

  • Our giving should be compassionate (from grace, generosity): “carry your gift to Jerusalem” (1Cor 16:3). Giving an offering was proof of the Corinthians faith and love for Paul, as well as the other family of faith (2Cor 8:8, 24). Further, Paul reminds the Corinthians their example of giving is on display for others in Macedonia (Philippi / Thessalonica / Berea) and Achaia (Greece) (2Cor 9:2). If Paul’s partners of Titus and others came to receive the financial offering and found the Corinthians unprepared, it would not only be embarrassing (humiliated/shameful), but express a lack of love, much more lacking faith.

 

  • Illus: Children view Christmas as magical, rightly so IMO. It’s a special time with a tremendous spirit of joy and giving for many. Yet, I can remember a point in my young adulthood viewing Christmas as a little empty. Between the time of not being married and even in early years of marriage without children, Christmas grew to be just another calendar season; enjoyable but not elite. What made the joy return to me about Christmas? Parenting! As a parent, it is my joy to give and provide for my children. And how many of you grandparents say there is increased joy in spoiling grandchildren?
    Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

    Likewise, when you care for people – or even organizations, such as a church – then giving is lovingly joyful. If you are having difficulty giving to church, perhaps it’s because you lack or lost love. In sum, we can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.
     
  • Our giving should not prevented from adversity (priorities): “in severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave… beyond their means… begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2Cor 8:4).
    • The Macedonian churches were not basking in God’s blessings but enduring hardships. Yet, they were able to evaluate their resources and see the deep well of God’s grace and faithfulness. The Macedonians trusted their little was much when God was in it. They begged to participate in relief of saints and get in on what God was doing. Most beg to get money, but the Macedonians begged to give money! Grace had come down, joy rose up, and generosity flowed out.[1]
    • Have you ever noticed the poor can be quite generous? They are more willing to share, more vulnerable about their life, and eager to meet needs of others around them (cf. Luke 21:1-4).

APPLY/THINK

Paul attempts a summary point: “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully” (2Cor 9:6). Elsewhere, he explains this same principle, applied not to money but morality: “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). Also elsewhere, “For they sow the win and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).

 

Here, the natural principles of harvest are explained.

  • We reap what we sow.
    • Generally speaking, seeds will produce their kind. If you plant goodness and generosity, then those will often return; and if you plant evil and greed, then those will often return.
    • Proverbs 11:25 “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched; and the one who waters will himself be watered.”
    • Monetarily, Christians do not give to get – instead, we get to give. Christians are not sowing seeds of money in order to reap earthly riches, but eternal treasure. “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).
  • We reap in proportion to what we sow.
    • The more seeds we plant, the greater harvest / or the less seeds, the smaller harvest.
    • Yet, even just a few seeds produces more than what we actually sowed. This is the common grace and blessing of a good God.
    • Ecclesiastes 11:6 “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”
  • We reap in a future season than we sow.
    • No one sows and immediately reaps the harvest. Sowing season must be patient and persistent with planting, watering, and waiting until the future harvest season.
    • God’s law here is different than “karma” because the fallenness of this world can curse us with what we don’t deserve, and God’s grace can bless us with what we don’t deserve. But, if we are trusting in the gospel of Christ, then we must look forward to an eternal harvest that only God can right every wrong and restore every loss.
    • When we evaluate dollars and days, we must evaluate the sowing more than the reaping. We cannot predict the entire harvest, but we can persevere in faithfulness trusting it’s the path to fruitfulness.
    • “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).

 

  • What are you sowing…
    • in faith & spiritual growth… you are as close to God as you want do be; how close are you?
    • in life… happiness is a byproduct of uncontrollable happenings, but joy is the result of a relationship with Jesus.
    • in finances… or hiding talents & treasure not realizing the Master expects multiplication (Matt 25:25-30).
  • Why do we sow…?
    • “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2Cor 9:15

[1] Sam Storms quoting John Piper, A Sincere And Pure Devotion To Christ, Meditations from 2Corinthians, p.49.

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