PREEMINENCE | His Story -- Our Practice | WEEK IV | Giving Part I | 2 Cor 8-9:15
Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:1– 9:15
Christopher Rich – February 12, 2023
PREEMENICE His Story – Our Practice
WEEK IV | Give - Part II – 2 Corinthians 8-9
Introduction | Jesus Gives, So we Give!
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission. Today we are going to continue our series PREEMINENCE: His Story-Our Practice
Col 1:17-18 | 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Preeminent, in the original Greek, means to “hold first place, have the highest rank, possess the greatest dignity, or being chief”. The word is only used once in the entire New Testament exclusively ascribed to Jesus Christ as one who, in “everything”, is to be preeminent. Simply put, Jesus is, and is to be, “first” in literally all things.
Our Practice - Jesus as preeminent defines His Story and determines Our Practice. Jesus’ story saves individuals who respond by becoming part of His people the Church. Because Jesus is the Head of the Church, He should be Preeminent in our Practices. While not exhaustive, there are four essential ways of being, practices, marks of discipleship the church embodies and emphasizes with the hope of seeing Jesus be first in our hearts, finances, lives, church, community and beyond. At Mercy Fellowship we believe disciples of Jesus who see and respond to Jesus as first will be known individually and communally as people who:
Gather – Because Jesus is preeminent, we gather around the person and work of Jesus for Jesus. Jesus First means participating with His people.
Give – Because Jesus is preeminent, He is first in our finances. We give to the purposes of Jesus because He first gave Himself for us.
Grow – Because Jesus is preeminent, we pursue growth in Him for Him. He is faithful for us and has called us to be fruitful.
Go on Mission – Because Jesus is preeminent, His agenda is our first priority. His mission is our purpose. He lives, so we live our lives for Him.
It is easy to make ourselves first when we focus on us as an individual. Sin separates, the gospel gathers. God has gathered individual scattered sinners to be a new people. God’s plan for our individual transformation is in the context of a Gospel Community. To be saved by Jesus’ work, and changed by Jesus’ grace is to have a new corporate identity with Jesus’ people. If Christ is first in our lives it will be evident in how we spend our time, talent, and treasure. When we are needy or greedy, we close our hands on what we have out of fear we will not have enough. To have our hands opened to be generous in ways which cost us requires courage. This courage is birthed from a reorientation to see what we have been given.
PART I | Generous in Poverty | 2 Cor 8:1-7
2 Cor 8 | We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 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.
Generous in Poverty (8:1-7) –We are all complex people so if and when we grow and change as disciples of Jesus living in our new identity as saints (no longer slaves to sin), citizens (no longer exiles), family (no longer orphans), and heir to the kingdom (no longer debtors) it changes our heart, worship, soul, mind, and how we engage with and steward all that we have. Paul is now coaching the Corinthians (a very affluent city) not by shaming but by lifting up as an example churches who are excelling in generosity. The Macedonians show the counter intuitive nature of how God’s economy is compared to the world. Our equation is more money, equals more (security, stuff, options, etc) therefore less fear, want, and/or more happiness and satisfaction. Even religiously we believe the favor of the Lord demonstrated by material blessing and His disfavor expressed by poverty. We then apply this to generosity, and assume those who have been blessed the most or have the most are going to automatically be the most generous, while those with the least will be the least generous. The churches in Macedonia broke this mold. How? They are recipients of the Grace of God. Known loved and saved by Jesus. What are their circumstances? Severe test of Affliction (not good). What is their attitude? Abundant Joy! What is their provision? Must be great, no… enduring extreme material poverty. What are their actions? Overflowing generosity. Despite their poverty they were abundantly rich in joyful grace; they gave according to and in this case beyond their means for a purpose. It was driven by their desire. It says they were begging for “Charis” (favor/grace) of participating to be a conduit of grace, blessing, and relief of others who are in need grace AND to support the mission of the gospel. They gave to support the mission and to give relief to members. There was a collection being taken by all the Greek/gentle churches to give support to the impoverished (primarily Jewish) churches in Judea and around Jerusalem. Their generosity was a surprise to Paul and his team, becausue of their attitude based on their circumstances. They were so encouraged they shared it with the Corinthians to see if they wanted to jump in the generosity train too to help the poorer churches. Macedonia giving well and Corinth not giving is like Honduras, out giving the US to support African churches. The result of grace received is a heart of exceeding generosity.
PART II |Generous in Prosperity | 2 Corinthians 8:8-15
2 Cor 8:8-15 | 8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 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. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
Generous in Prosperity– We don’t give out of a command but out of compulsion. Jesus Gave Generously, So we can Give (v9) - He took our poverty of sin on the cross, paid the debt of sin, and gave a direct wealth transfer of His righteousness to us. When we have been blessed abundantly it is for our joy and for us to be a blessing for others. Jesus loves us with a costly grace. It cost Him death on the cross so we could have greater life with Him. A life with both desire and discipline. How these interact matters. Verse 10 says they began to give and then desired to do it! The Corinthians had pledged to give when they were made aware of the need and began to do it, but then their enthusiasm waned so they’re being called back to follow through with their initial pledge. Corinthian Christians had been told of the need, given an example of how others have responded for them to imitate, and then left to let the Holy Spirit work on how they could respond.
Equipped to Give –You cannot give what you do not first possess or have received. He’s not saying “you have to give what you don’t have, or cannot give” and “we’re not asking to shift the burden from them to you.” But for their burden (what someone cannot carry alone) by yours voluntarily being given (from your abundance) the amount is not as important as the heart. What apparently had changed wasn’t their bank account but their hearts affections. They had pledged to give, they want to give, they’re equipped to give now they need to be disciplined and follow through not what they’ve been shamed to give but what they desire to give. Affluence can be fluid - For now the Corinthians are the affluent while the Judeans are in need but that can all shift quickly. There is a time for us to be a blessing and where we are the ones in need of blessing.
Equity from Exodus – equality, equal proportion. fairness, equity, what is equitable. Part of the purpose of their giving is to help provide for others in “need”. The goal isn’t that everyone is identical, but that everyone is provided for. Going back to when God provided for His people in the wilderness with Manna from Heaven they were called to have an abundantly adequate daily portion, but some tried to gather more but it didn’t yield more. Everyone had ‘enough’ or what was sufficient while all were active in working to provide for themselves and others. This nuance is necessary for us to understand fairness and equality vs being identical.
PART III |Generous in Provision | 2 Cor 8:16-24
2 Cor 8:16-24 | But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.
Generous in Provision – We love and bless because we have been loved and blessed. We are generous when we are no longer driven by fear but rather faith in God’s gracious provision. Blessed with the Best – Churches were generous with one another for the purposes of building up the Kingdom of God and THE CHURCH beyond their own self-interest for Kingdom progress. The Corinthians have been given a squad to bless them and build them up. Titus and Paul, a guy who is “famous among the churches for preaching”. And an experienced and gifted guy who is zealous for the growth of the church. They are giving and receiving, staying motivated as givers by gratitude to God. Honor is visible to all, both in the sight of God and Man.
PART IV | Generous Intentionality | 2 Cor 9:1-5
2 Cor 9:1-5 |Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.
God Gives intentionally, so we can intentionally give. God is intentional; meaning every action He takes is performed with awareness; done deliberately, consciously, on purpose. We may not always know what His purposes are but we can rest knowing God is ultimately knowledgeable, powerful, and loving. We are Intentional – We diligently prepare and plan for what we desire to do. We set rhythms around what we believe is essential. When the Corinthians understood the missional needs of the church and other people who needed to be blessed they were quick to sign up and pledge to give. Some had followed through and some hadn’t. Paul as leader is intentionally reminding them what they pledged, providing a way for them to fulfill what they resolved to give and is encouraging them to be “ready” (have a plan, be intentional) He stressed both being ready AND willing. Two words are used here “gift/willing gift,” meaning blessing” vs “exaction” (given grungily or expecting a return) Our motives for giving matter. Am I giving purposefully and regularly? Our giving is consistent and is a planned part of our life rhythms. Our giving should be on a regular basis, that is, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc. Although there is nothing wrong with spontaneous giving, our giving should not be blind but rather mindful and systematic about our giving. Therefore, giving should be a result of the first fruits of our labor and intentionally planned as part of our budget.
PART V |Generous Cheerfulness | 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
2 Cor 9:6-11 | 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
God gives cheerfully so we can cheerfully give. – He says, “this is the point!” Your actions flowing from your heart. As he’s talking about being intentional, he talks about what drives our intentionality. God’s desire is for our hearts to be glad in Him, not dread our duties for Him. He talks about the principal (not a promise) of sowing and reaping. Little seed spread, little crop, lots of seed spread, bigger crop. We do not give out of fear of what happens when we withhold. Rather we give out of joyful delight of the abundant grace He has already given to us. We bless and we receive blessing. We are not simply containers of God’s blessing and grace but conduits of it to others. God’s grace given to us (v8) for the purposes of us cheerful giving, that leads us to greater gratitude as we’re enriched in EVERY WAY (tangible spiritual) to be generous in EVERYWAY because God is the one supplying our means of generosity. More than just the means of generosity, God has given us all that is good and beautiful. We can see with our eyes the cheerful giving of the LORD in every sunrise and delicious meal. Our giving is rooted in an understanding of the gospel. Our giving should spring from a cheerful heart which God loves. God is not interested in your money but your heart. We are to do all things, including giving, without grumbling and with joy, we do not give reluctantly or under compulsion so we ask Am I properly motivated in my giving? Our giving is a glad response to what God has given us in Christ. Jesus gave cheerfully (for the joy set before him went to the cross) What God has done for us in Christ is not something we can pay back. It is a gift. Grace is a gift you don't pay back. It is given to us to use. We've been gifted His righteousness. Our giving is never going to pay back how are you blessed in Christ. God wants our contentment in Him and His provision. Jesus first miracle was to turn water into wine, not to dull the pain of a broken world but to enhance and extend the joyfully celebration of life and love around wedding feast. So let’s remember the character of God who is cheerful in giving good gifts.
PART VI |Generous Sacrifice | 2 Cor 9:12-15
2 Cor 9:12-15 | 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
God gives sacrificially so we can sacrificially give- God is an inexpressible giver. He has given us everything in Jesus. As we hear world like service, submission, confession, and generosity we cannot forget Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus has all the riches of Heaven and emptied Himself to the point of poverty for a purpose. He did this so we who are spiritually poor might be rich in Him. Jesus was driven by desire to give and to sacrifice on the Cross. He was motivated by the great reward of purchasing His people from slavery from sin and selfishness, to be son and daughters, heir to the kingdom who would no longer live self-focus lives but experiencing joy in having lives that are others focused motivated by the new identity in Christ. Am I giving proportionally? Am giving generously? For giving to be significant it needs to literally cost us something. Our giving should be in accordance with how each of us has been prospered by God; according to our ability. Some people can give much more than 10%, others much less. This is an issue to work out in your own heart—but it must be worked out. We are called to give generously, even sacrificially, but not to the point of personal affliction. What is sacrificial? Besides your housing what is your largest monthly payment? How much is your cell phone bill? Car Payment? Sports? Eating out? Trips? Entertainment? Christians are instructed to give cheerfully, regularly, and sacrificially. What happens when all three of these are not present?
If giving is Cheerful and Sacrificial but not Regular than your giving will be inconsistent. Undisciplined stewardship God’s mercies are new every morning, fresh manna and grace come on the daily. We can respond with faithful consistency.
If your giving is Regular and Cheerful but not Sacrificial than your giving will be ineffective. Grace is costly, If we give and don’t “feel” or notice it than it likely doesn’t effectively shape our heart or bless our neighbor.
If your giving is Regular and Sacrificial but not Cheerful that your giving will be incomplete. We a whole people. God doesn’t want (or need) our money He wants our whole lives including our hearts affections.
Which one of these do you struggle with most? Our giving is not to earn God’s favor, but because we have been granted favor with God in Christ. We give because of the Gospel, and we give for the Gospel.
What is your next step? Do you need to repent of believing your life is about you and follow the God who has giving you everything in Jesus? That you need to put your trust in him and him alone? Become a Christian find you identity not I yourself but In Christ. Be baptized. Resolve to repent.
Are you a Christian? Do you need to look at your budget and see how you’re spending and begin to live within your means so you can give, save, and steward? What needs to change? Who do you need to get counsel from? Rely on God for wisdom provision and guidance.
How we use money matters to God. It displays where our hope, faith and trust is in. Praise God the Father who supplies us with sufficient provision in all seasons. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you have been blessed and how you can be a blessing. Thank Jesus for His intentional sacrificial death on the cross motivated by His joyful desire for us so we can give and live as we continue to Trust Jesus!
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