Sermon – How We Give is Important to God (2 Corinthians 8:1 – 8:12) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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How We Give is Important to God

Philip Cooper, 2 Corinthians 8:1 - 8:12, 19 February 2023

We're taking a break in our series in 1 Timothy to do a special on giving. Phil preaches from 2 Corinthians 8:1-12 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. In these verses we see how God intends for us to give to his kingdom. How much should we give and how would we take Paul's words about blessings in this passage?

2 Corinthians 8:1 - 8:12

8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 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. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 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.

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 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.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

And if you brought a bible with you, then please do turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 8. We're going to read verses 1 to 12 of chapter 8, and then we're going to flick on to chapter 9 and read verse 6 to 15. And as Anne said, we're taking a short break from our 1 Timothy series, and we're gonna be focusing on these words to the Corinthians, and Phil's gonna come and preach them to us in a moment. So 2 Corinthians 8, first 1. And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their dream poverty weld up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability entirely on their own. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the lord's people. And they exceeded our expectations. They gave themselves, first of all, to the lord, and then by the will of God, also to us.

So we urge Titus just as he had earlier made a beginning to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in the love we have kindred in you, See that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 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 through his poverty might become rich. And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter.

Last year, you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. Now, finish the work so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what 1 has and not according to what 1 does not have. And then if you'll turn over with me to Chapter 9, and we'll read verses 6 to 15. Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things, at all times having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, they have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever. Now he who supply seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.

And through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity and sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks Peter God for his indescribable gift.

Thanks, Tom. Good morning. It's lovely to see you all. Welcome. If you're a newcomer, a visitor here this morning, my name is Philip Cooper.

I'm 1 of the elders of the church. And as Tom said, we're we're breaking off from longevity this morning, and we're having a 1 off. It's not a mini series. It's a 1 off on the subject of giving, as you can tell from the reading. When I was doing the sound check actually earlier, Abry said to me, have they given you the sermon on women?

Thank you. Which I didn't find very encouraging. I have to say. And then somebody else said, who is doing that? And I said, Peter, and they said, oh, well, it's not a lot better.

So we'll see. But No. This morning, we're going to be looking at the subject of giving. And let me say right up front because I want to get this out the way otherwise you'll be waiting for it. Yes, the church needs funding.

And yes, we're looking at a deficit for the financial year that ends in March of about 12000. So that's where we are. If you remember, you were at the members meeting, you'll know that figure. But before I calls undue worry, by mentioning that sort of thing. Can I just say that over the last, I don't know, 25 years probably that I've been involved in church finances here and previously before we planted this church?

I've learned that something's true that was told to me years ago And that is if you find a church that doesn't have a deficit that runs permanently on surfaces, so that, you know, the elders are spending their time talking about investing money for a rainy day. Then what you've got is a church that's run out of ideas for spreading the gospel. So we don't want to panic about having a deficit. As staff, and you can see that in share life, some of the stuff we've been doing has been fantastic to get out into the community and spread the gospel. So we don't worry about it.

But would I like it to disappear by the end of March? Yes. But this morning, having just said all that, I want us to now forget about that. We're not going to have a PowerPoint on Church Finance. We're just going to look at what the Bible says to us about giving.

If you're new here this morning, can I just say we're very low key about money something that crops up in the newcomers group regularly? Why don't you ever talk about money? And we don't. I mean, I think this is the first sermon for years probably on this subject. Leonard was saying to me before the service this morning that at 1 of his previous churches, they did 20 minutes on giving every Sunday.

I mean, the only temptation that I'd like to do it just to see Rory Bell explode in Sunday school. But, you know, it's not great. 20 minutes every Sunday. We're just going to this morning focus on what the Bible says to us about giving, but if you're new here, if you just started coming. If you're visiting, we are not off your money.

We don't take a collection ever. Apart from Christmas Day, we give the money away but we don't take a collection of the church. We want to be different about this subject. So this morning, we're simply going to be looking at what scripture says to us about the privilege of giving. So let me pray and then we'll get stuck into the passage.

Father, we pray now, as we turn to your word, help us. To focus on it, help us to put aside other things in our heads, perhaps we came expecting a tour from 1 timothy Lord help us to look at this subject, look at how much of a privilege it is to be able to give to your work. In whatever form that takes, and we're going to look at those later. Lord help us to be open, have open minds' hearts that we'll hear from you, And at the end of this, we'll want to be more like Jesus. In Jesus' name, amen.

What you'll see, if you look at the passage in 2 Corinthians 8 is the first 6 verses are basically Paul holding up to the church in Corinth, which is in Southern Greece. The example of the Macedonian churches, which included Philippines, Thessalonica, which are in Northern Greece. And he holds them up to comment as an example. And what he does is he draws 6 principles out, which show us that how we give is important to God. How we give is important to go.

That's our first point. And it's going to have 6 sub points. So we're going to have to race through them fairly quickly. How we give is important to God. And the first principle if you like that he draws is giving is by grace.

Giving is by grace verse 1. And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that god has given the Macedonian churches. See Paul saying, look, their giving wasn't down to human kindness. It was grace at working them. As gentiles, they didn't even know the church in Jerusalem.

They have no existing relationship triggering the giving. You know, it's not like us when we want to support Robyn Beckentry. Or tariffs in Poland or the guys in Minsk, where we have a relationship and people have gone there and, you know, that sort of thing. Here, Paul is saying no, that's not what was going on. It was grace at working them.

We want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. That's what he's saying. So similarly, our giving should be a work of grace in our lives. Now maybe you haven't thought about this before, but you see giving should be an area of our Christian life that we seek to grow in just like any other gift. So off and I think we bring our giving back to a sort of human calculation, almost, what can I afford?

You know, human judgment. When it should be God's grace working in us. So that's pretty much the first application from that point. Are we aware of god's grace at work in us in this area of giving. Second, principally draws out.

Giving is not subject to our circumstances. You see our circumstances whilst clearly relevant, obviously, they are. In the end, should we push out the grace gift of giving in our life. Look at verse 2, in the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy in their stream poverty rolled up in rich generosity. See, the Macedonian churches, they were full of born again people Following Jesus Christ, his grace had been poured out on them by way of his death on the cross.

But notice although they were saved, they were saved people, their troubles in the world weren't over. And yet it says here that despite suffering very severe trials, they had overflowing joy, had overflowing joy in that. And that joy unlock generosity. And that's because Christian joy is rooted in grace, isn't it? It's not rooted in avoiding suffering or avoiding affliction.

The Macedonians joy with overflowing and yet their affliction was severe. Following God had not brought to their material blessing, as you hear from some churches, It did not remove poverty, but it had made a group of poor people into radically generous people. And I think that should really impact us, you know, as we sit here in South West London. You know, I'm not saying we don't have hardship or We haven't felt the cost of living crisis, the cost of living increase, but it's not on the same level as the Macedonians, is it? And yet, I wonder, you see, whether they experience more joy than we do in Kingston because of their faith, because of their sacrifice, because of their overflowing love for god's people.

Don't we tend? I think a lot of us tend to effectively pray that god first removes the trials. You know, get us through them help us become wealthier and then we'll respond. You know, it's the sort of equivalent to say, look, lord, if you can help me win the lottery 3 or the premium bonds, then I'll give you lots of money. And often in our hearts, that's how we think.

And if we do think like that, then we like Jacob in Genesis. This is a phenomenal where if I hadn't seen this before amazingly. Genesis 28 verse 20 Jacob vows this. He makes this vow. If God will be with me, so if God will be with me, and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return to my father's household, wait for it, this is the vowel, then the lord will be my god.

It's amazing, isn't it? I mean, God must have said, well, so if I do all that for you, then you'll believe in me. But that we're so like that. That's how we think, well, where is the faith there? So we're to give regardless of circumstances whether that's extreme poverty or relative wealth.

Third principle, our giving is to be sacrificial. Verse 3, if I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Now what does that verse really mean? What does it mean to give beyond your ability? Because I think that sounds like terrible advice.

Doesn't it? If you come and see pain or me or anything about money we're not going to tell you to do that. Well, you see, I think it means that you give beyond what your spreadsheet suggests is comfortable. It doesn't mean they were stupid, doesn't mean they were reckless. Years ago, a long, long time ago now.

I became a Christian in my sandwich here in the middle of university. And I went back to university for the final year, and I'd never been to a CU before. And I went to the CEO and I met quite a few people and there was this guy who was fantastic at talking to people about Christ. But when he went overdrawn as a student, he gave money to God to go further overdrawn on the basis God would then sought out his overdraft. I mean, that's nuts.

That's not how it works. So we're supposed to be sensible. We're supposed to be saying. We're supposed to look at our finances. And then possibly give a little bit more.

That's what it's saying. Look at verse 12. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what 1 has, not according to what 1 does not have. If you don't give when you're in debt, You don't give money you haven't got. God doesn't expect you to give what you don't have.

Our giving is to be proportionate. Look, if you're like me, I don't know if many are. If you're like me, you might like a clear nice rule. You know, that's works. So you're finding churches a lot of the time, they talk about 10 percent which is a time to even use the word.

So I have 10 percent type, and I like that because I understand it. Okay? The problem is, it's not really biblical. Firstly, the ties that they're talking about they refer to in the old testament were way more than 10 percent 10 percent was 1 of them. You add it up and you add 42, I think I'd worked it out once.

And I didn't like that number, so I abandoned and they're working. But, you know, that's the that's what you get when you start thinking like that. And then you start debating is it temps out of my gross income before tax or after tax. That's rubbish. None of that is of any interest, Paul.

Paul says here, doesn't he give this much? No. There's no figure at all. There's no suggested amount. There's no regularity actually.

All it says in this verse is they gave beyond their means. They looked at what was sensible and they gave a little bit more. And that is because their hearts led them to take some risks for God. In effect, they're just like the widow in the temple in that story giving the 2 coins. She gave what she had.

The emphasis on the heart is always the case we've got. So even back in Exodus 25, and the Lord says this to Moses. Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. Now when I read that, I'm thinking, okay, here we go. This is gonna be good.

This is gonna be a rule. That we like, but no, sadly. You are to receive the offering, mister Moses, you are to receive the offering for me from everyone Sounds good, doesn't it? Except the next bit from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. That's what he's saying.

Get everyone to bring me an offering if their heart prompts them. What this has made me wonder is, Anja here. I saw really earlier. So Anil won't like this bit. Anil does a lot of the financing, giving and stuff for commission.

It's made me wonder you see whether the direct debit that we all tend to do monthly going out is really spiritually right. Because where's the heart? Some of us probably set it up years ago. I've never looked at it since. Now, clearly, if we all this is why Annie's not gonna lie this.

If you all go home and cancel your direct debit, it's a bit of a disaster. So before I crater the church finances in a single talk, I think the solution is keep your direct debits in place. But think about what you're doing. Think about perhaps not every month because that's unrealistic. Most of you are not going to do that.

Every quarter, every 6 months, every year, just reflect, have I given enough? To God, is that the right figure? Have I had a pay increase since 19 96 when I set it up? That's the sort of thing we've got to think about. Being sacrificial means it should cost to something.

And if you set up a direct debit many years ago and you haven't done even really notice I wonder if you could really downturn that as sacrificial. I remember, again, this is in a previous church. I was doing this job And I got a lift at the end of the month or 3 months can't remember of people who stopped giving. And of course, most of them were people who left the church. That was fine.

But 1 of them I noticed 1 day was an elder. He hadn't left. And I thought, I'd better have. I'm gonna have to say something. So I saw I went to see him and I said, look, very difficult, but you've stopped your direct debit, you stopped giving to the church.

And he said, oh, when? I said, it looks like about 3 months ago. And it's not sorry I've noticed. And I thought about that afterwards and thought, if you don't even notice the amount of money going out, how is that sacrificial? You know, for us, it might just mean we have to skip a Starbucks a week.

We have to skip the takeaway on a Friday night, whatever it is. But he's got to cuss something shortly. Listen to King David, 2 Samuel 24. Phenomenal verse again. He says this, I will not sacrifice to the lord, my god, burned offerings that have cost me nothing.

I will not sacrifice to the lord my god burnt offerings that have cost me nothing. So you know what the application is there? Does your giving cost you at the moment? Do you even notice it? Is there a sacrificial element in what you do?

Fourthly, fourth principle, they gave their own free will. Verse 4, entirely on their own. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the lord's people. I I found this fascinating statement because we know if you read the letters Paul is very persuasive person. And a lot of church leaders are very persuasive people.

And part of being a Christian, isn't it? And having the spirit at work inside us, sanctifying us, making us more like Jesus, I think means that you develop, you have more of a tender conscience, more of a love for brothers and sisters here. The problem is that can make us vulnerable to being manipulated into giving money. It's another good reason why we say almost nothing about money in this church. The Macedonian churches were not coerced all manipulated into giving money to Jerusalem.

What it says is they were actually pleading to be allowed to share in this service to God. So what becomes clear from that when you read it is Paul, we haven't even asked them. You know, perhaps Paul had seen the poverty level. Perhaps he'd seen the severe trials that they were undergoing. And the last thing he intended to do is bash them over there for money.

And yet, the Macedonian church was so full of grace that they were pleading with Paul to let them serve in this way. So similarly, our giving must be voluntary. It must be what we want to give. It must be out of the heart. It mustn't be works.

It mustn't be a sense of duty. It mustn't be to buy god's favor. It mustn't be because you're manipulated. Let me just pause again for a minute and just say, look, I've noticed in me and I'm sure it's true for many people that our tendency is to give what's needed and then we sort of keep the rest. So it's a bit like if I put in the car park a big thermometer saying 12000 to fill it up.

Magically, you get to 12200, and it all stops because we give what's needed. But you see, the Macedonian churches They never say to the Jerusalem Church how much do you need? Did they? They didn't ask can we see the accounts of the Jerusalem Church so we can judge how they use their money? They didn't say, look, we're not sure, Paul, that the Jerusalem Church has the right growth strategy, so we're not backing it.

They're giving as a spiritual issue. So the money isn't given with conditions. Fifthly, dedication to God comes ahead of the gift of giving. Verse 5. They exceeded our expectations.

They gave themselves, first of all, to the lord, and then by the will of God also to us. Very, very importantness. Money wasn't first. They gave themselves first. You know, I really hope this inspires us.

You see, it's interesting in my job. You meet a lot of very wealthy people because they're buying commercial properties that have got to be quite wealthy. And I've noticed their approach to life generally is to buy themselves out of problems or issues or you know, basically, if they don't want to do something, money solves it. I remember being on a company roadshow. Where you go in and you're seeing shareholders and you're raising money by selling them new shares in the company, the client's company.

And we arrived at this office, big fund manager, and this guy walks in and he was clearly quite busy, which they all are. And he sat down and he said, look, guys, before you start, I'll give you – I'll buy a few million pounds worth if I don't have to sit through the presentation. Now that is That's astonishing. I mean, you're probably running your pensions. So I'd be worried if I were you.

But either that's terrible. Because he's giving other people's money away on something he has no idea. But you see, that's the opposite of what we're supposed to be like. We're to give ourselves first. To serve each other, care for each other, that must come first.

And that means time and energy and putting other people ahead of you. It's not godly if your approach is, I'd like to give a bit more rather than do anything. I understand that some of you here – we all go through phases in life, that some of you here have got big jobs, you earn a lot of money, you're at capacity, in your life. And so right now, all you can give is money, fine. I'm gonna take you off you.

You know, that that's life, isn't it? That's your face. But there's some of you also who can't give any more than you are doing already. You haven't got any spare money. And all you can give is of yourself.

That's fine too. Do that. But bear in mind that the way Paul's phasing it here is neither a good long term. The Macedonian giving came after they gave themselves, but they did then give. Final point, final principle from this church.

The act of giving must be completed. Verse 6. So we urge Titus just as he had earlier made a beginning to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in the love we have kindled in you, see that you also excel in this grace of giving. Now this is the nearest we get to a command actually in this passage.

Paul says, you have to consummate the grace gift of giving in your life. I've told this story before, but I remember quite a few years ago now, I think we'd had an appeal or something like that. And this guy came up to me and he passed over a check to me for, you know, reasonable sum of money. But it was screwed up. It was in a terrible condition to check that doggy, ends, you know, dirty, obviously, been screwed up in his And he saw my expression and immediately blurted out that it was in that state because he carried it around in his pocket for a few weeks debating in himself whether to give it.

Now look, that's okay. It's okay to have that battle, isn't it? With your sinful nature. But let's understand that's what's going on. Because your sinful nature is going to say, you'll be happier if you don't give it.

And verse 6 says, when you finally decide to give when you sit here, for example, this morning and you say, okay, I do need to adjust my giving, it hasn't actually happened until you've done it. This is the opposite of the old saying. It's the thought that counts because it doesn't count in the area of giving. Chris Tilly was telling me earlier this week that there's a period in his business, in his working life, where suddenly there's loads of award winners. And years ago, There used to be a regular award lunch in the property industry that I went to.

And it was always held in to remember the word is in favor of the variety club of Great Britain. They were the charity that would be sponsored for the for the lunch. And we used to go big tables at 12 in a ballroom in Central London. And there'd be a point at which they would ask us to commit to buy a wheelchair for 1 of the kids. And there were 6000 pounds each, all those years ago.

And 12 on the table is 500 quid. And I can remember, we sat there, and we relatively, I guess, thinking, oh my goodness. We're gonna find 500 quid form, and everybody was talking about it. And when you decided to do it and you raise your hand and you committed to this wheelchair, you punch this big light on the center of the table, which then rotated around. So you could see which tables had committed and who was sitting there, not committing the money.

And Apart from the fact that's really very high pressure. But there were people in the industry, big players in the industry who'd stand up and say, our table gives 6. Our table gives 10 wheelchairs. And so they raise a lot of money. I was talking to 1 of the organizers in a meeting I had with him a few weeks later, I was I was saying, look, I I did say I thought this was quite a high pressure.

And he said, you know less than 40 percent come through with the money. They stand there and say, I'll buy 10 wheelchairs and then they renee on it. That's astonishing. And Paul is saying here, you have to go through and actually give. Don't pledge in your heart.

Oh, yeah. I'm gonna do something about that and don't do it. You're same as them. You might not be getting the applause that we gave the room. But Paul saying inspiring them say, look, just as you love, just as you serve, just as your faithful, all these things you're doing, just as you work at your knowledge of God, just as your sincere also excel in this gift of giving.

So those are the sixth principles that we can get from the Macedonian church and those few versus how we give is important to God. But Paul now moves on to a second example. We're going to speed up now with all the sub points The second point is this. So the first 1 is how we give is important to God. The second 1 is our relationship to Jesus is important to God.

Look at verse 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 through his poverty might become rich. That's a well known verse, phenomenal verse. But this verse is telling us that Jesus came down from heaven where he had been rich in relationship with god the father He became fully man living on earth with us, was crucified in a agonizing death, taking the punishment on him for all of our sin, meaning all of the anti god stuff we think and do. That's what that verse is talking about.

When it says he became poor, he's not talking about money, is it? Jesus was rich in his relationship with god the father in heaven, yet became poor for us ultimately being separated from god on the cross. He suffered a relational poverty. And why did he do it? So that through that poverty, we might become rich.

And of course, it doesn't mean financially. We're made rich in grace. We made rich in the promises of God. We made rich in that 1 day we will be with our lord and savior for eternity in heaven. God is thinking there in a completely different currency.

That's why this verse is at the end of a section on giving money. Because god wants us to follow the example of Christ to become poor, not money, not in relationship we've got, but poor in order to save others. You see our nature is to think money all the time. But here, God's changed the currency. And so we think, and I guess, some of you will think, well, that's all very well felt, what you've been saying.

But I can't eat a relationship with God the Father. I can't drive the kids around in a relationship with God the Father. We can't live as a family in a relationship with God the Father. Jesus and our relationship with him doesn't pay our utility bills every month. Well, that's true, but we're missing the point of the passage.

Yes, be careful with your money. Yes, be good stewards. There's no harm in some planning that's true. But what is most important in your life? Do you want to be rich in relationship with God or do you want to be rich in the material world?

McDonald's now popped in my head. In verse 9, God has switched currencies. We think money, he thinks love and relationship. So Jesus became poor so we could become rich, but neither of those conditions are at all related to finances. He cares about your son, your relationship with his son, Jesus.

Thirdly and lastly, Our life now is important to God. So how we give is important to God. Our relationship with Jesus is important to God. And our life now is important to God. Because he does care about your life now.

And for this, we turn to the second passage 2 Corinthians 9. We're going to look at these verses very briefly. And what we'll see is that a loving God does also think in the same currency as us, thinks in a different currency, thinks in the same currency. So he doesn't just care about your future in heaven. He cares about you now too.

Look at verse 6. Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you've decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

It is a fantastic group of promises there. Firstly, Paul picks up some of the themes that we've just looked at. But he sort of flashes them out, he adds to them. We must give cheerfully. And I think you can apply that not just to the money, But when Paul talks about giving of yourself, we've got to do it carefully.

So if your home group, let's say your home group is on, for tidying up Church lunch in March. The next 1. If you do that and all you do is slam things around and butter under your breath because people are still talking and you want them to go so that you can clear up and get home. That is not giving carefully, is it? That we know this stuff.

Do you think you feel loved most? When a person does something for you but grudgingly and out of a sense of duty, or when they do it cheerfully with a longing to help, perhaps finding satisfaction for themselves in doing the good deed. I mean, if I - I mean, this is very unlikely, but I was visiting 1 of you in hospital. And I came in and you said, oh, you needn't have come and I said, well, no, I just feel I have to because I'm, you know, I've got to do this sort of thing and it's a pain in the neck, frankly, and I'd rather been at home. But You're not gonna feel loved by you.

But if you give cheerfully, there's a bonus. Because it says in verse 6, if you give yourself or money with joy in your heart, God loves you for it. I mean, that's fantastic in it. God loves you. But Paul then goes further and says, look, when you give God will bless you abundantly.

And this time, I think he's talking about the same currency. Now look, I know alarm bells, if if alarm bells are not going off at this point, they should be because you can get to prosperity gospel from this verse or these verses very, very quickly. So be cautious. Let's see what the Bible says and think about it. Whoever so sparingly will reap sparingly, whoever so generously will reap generously.

He has to be talking about the same currency that you sow in reaping because it's an agricultural farming illustration. If you sow wheat, you get wheat. If you're so corn, you get corn. Now we can argue and we This is the sort of tipic argument we might use. Well, obviously, if you sort of give some money, then your blessing might be able to see that you'll be able to see gods work in the church and you'll be able to see cornerstone have money for a building or the Sunday school people or whatever it is.

But I think it's same on that. Verse 8 says, God will bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times, having all that you need So I think he is saying you give money, you get money. The problem is, in a sense, we've got to think firstly, we can't outgave a loving God. We've got to get that in our head, so that's quite important. But secondly, it doesn't say you get all you want.

It says you get all you need. And even then, there's a condition. And this is where the prosperity gospel reminder goes wrong because look at the end of the verse, the condition is so you will abound in every good work. So the result of being generous in giving is that God will give you the ability to give more. That's what he's saying.

1 commentator I thought, this was a really good summary. You will be given by God all you need to meet the demands of your generous heart so that you are able to do every good deed you desire to do. That's fantastic, isn't it? See, I think the problem with the prosperity gospel is it finishes with you getting the money back. If you give money to God, then he's gonna bless you with a big house or a big car or more money.

And that's a lie. It's not what he's saying. As you go out of your comfort zone in giving to God, he's going to change your mindset by the work of your spirit. That would be a great work in your life with NIM. Now perhaps you're sitting there and I would completely understand this this is exactly where I would probably be thinking, yeah, I don't really want that mindset change.

Giving to God, we think means we lose money. Because we have less afterwards. It seems obvious. And Paul's saying, no, giving to God is to gain. You can't outgave a loving God.

And I think 1 of the problems we have is that we often forget whose money is in the first place. Look at verse 10, He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food will also supply and increase your store seed and when enlarge the harvest of your righteousness, you will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanks giving to God. Who supplies the seed in the first place God does? The reason you have that job that pays well is God. The reason you receive that bonus or that inheritance is God.

And he gives you these things. And as you give them back to him, It says here, he will enlarge your harvest. Nothing to do with gaining money for yourself. He will enlarge your ability to give more. That's what he's saying.

So let's conclude. Sadly, in my view, there are no rules. It's all about the heart. Give of yourself and secondly give money be sacrificial if you've had a pay increase, you need to adjust your giving. If you're sitting there thinking, actually, you know, I am nowhere near sacrificing anything.

At the moment, then adjust your giving. If there's no cost to you, then adjust your giving like David, we shouldn't want to give to god that which costs us nothing. But there's nothing wrong in having a holiday. There's nothing wrong in buying a car. There's nothing wrong in enjoying meals out with friends.

All of those things are good because God created the world. And he gave us these things. And we should enjoy them. And when you go out and have a meal with friends, give thanks to God for it. God's not a kill joy.

He's just saying here when you gave dew from the heart. If you're overstretched and you're in debt, then I think you need to adjust your giving downwards, pay off the debt, But get going again. This is not an excuse for years of doing nothing. Giving to God is described and I haven't had time to go into this morning all over the bible as the giving of our first fruits of our endeavors. Not what's left over.

Our tendency is always what's left over. The reality is these promises are so amazing that we've just read that by not giving, you're removing yourself from blessing. As Cornerstone's grown in numbers of people, We sometimes get the question of. We've had it a few times actually. Can't you find a bigger building?

And we say, no, there's nothing available. Because we look. But as I've thought about this sermon over the last week or so, I've realized that answer is not strictly true, is it? You see, if I had if we had 10000000 pounds, I am sure we could find a building. So our answer should be There's nothing available that we can afford because we don't have the income.

Look at verse 12, we're going to finish here. This service you perform is not only supplying the needs of the lord's people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God because of the service by which you have proved yourselves. Others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. When the Corinthians Church saw the example of the Macedonian church that we just looked out, They not only thank God, but it stirred them. Now, wouldn't it be amazing if you're giving, stirred other people?

Wouldn't it be amazing if the overflowing of our money into Cornerstone cause people in Kingston to notice? I don't know, because we're bidding on buildings. Wouldn't it be amazing if other churches in the area could see that the giving that was going on in this church, which perhaps I'd add staff and buy the iPads and whatever else we need, was so amazing that it inspired them and so the kingdom of God actually in this borough had expanded further and faster as other churches got going. Just like the Carinthian church was inspired by the Macedonian. That would be fantastic, wouldn't it?

Let's pray. Father God, we Thank you so much for each other for this church. And we thank you for the love that we have here. That we see when we have to say goodbye to people like Dowling Marie and it hurts us. Father, we thank you that that love causes us to give, causes us to be generous, help us to be like that, help us not to have done, you know, electronic banking set something up and then we forget about it and there's no cost and there's no sacrifice and there's no heart.

Lord, we want to be people that love you, that have hearts for you, and we want to grow in this gift of giving, just like we want to grow in other gifts. Help us lord to mature in this. Help us to be an example in this church that will spur other people on. Other churches perhaps who are struggling or at least they can see and say, wow, god is at work here. And that the resourcing that we can provide here will not only help to give more money to Minsk and Poland and back entry, but also here provide more of an impact in this borough.

That we will see more people who are lost and don't know you, come to know you. In Jesus' name, thou men

Preached by Philip Cooper
Philip Cooper photo

Phil is an Elder at Cornerstone and oversees our Finances. Cathryn is on the staff team as our Women’s Ministry Coordinator.

Contact us if you have any questions.

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