A Giving Heart

Season of Giving 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:24
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We are continuing our study of giving this morning.
So far, we have seen that God is ultimately the one who owns everything we have and everything we are. We are simply stewarding it for him, so if he calls us to give some of his time, talents, or treasures away, he has the right to do so.
Last week, we were reminded that he is the one who gave first and most as we saw Jesus, the incredible creator and sustainer of the world, humbling himself and giving himself to us so we could become spiritually rich. If he would give himself like that for us, then we need to be willing to give whatever he calls us to give.
With that backdrop, I want to turn back to the chapter we looked at last week.
Go ahead and turn over to . That is on page 1027 if you are using one of the Bibles from the back of the pew.
Let me remind you what is going on in this chapter.
Paul is writing to the church in a city called Corinth. When he last spoke with them, they agreed to take part in an offering he was collecting. This was an offering that was going to support impoverished believers in Jersualem.
He had been taking this offering up for a while, and the Corinthians said they were interested in participating. Now, he is sending this letter and asking them to make good on their previous pledge.
To encourage their obedience, Paul talks about the faithful giving of Christians in Macedonia.
For those interested, that would likely have been the churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
They were doing great spiritually, but they had been persecuted and pushed to the outskirts of society. As we will see, they were impoverished themselves.
And yet, in the midst of their difficulty, they were unbelievably generous.
By the way, Paul isn’t trying to play the two churches off each other. Instead, he is giving the Corinthians a great example to follow.
In fact, they are a great example for us to follow as well.
They demonstrate the incredible attitudes of a giving heart.
As we look at these 5 verses, we are going to see four different attitudes that should characterize our giving.
Let’s read it together...
The first attitude that jumps out is that our giving must be:

1) Joyful.

Look back at verse 2.
I love the paradox in this verse.
The Macedonian believers were in a tough spot, but that didn’t stop them from being joyful!
In fact, it wasn’t that they were just a little joyful; they were abundantly joyful!
I am always convicted by statements like this, because so often, I think things have to be going well for me to be joyful.
When life is good, I have joy, but when it gets hard, I lose it.
That isn’t the picture of the Christian life at all, is it?
Here’s how one commentator put it:
The New American Commentary: 2 Corinthians (1) Example: God’s Grace Given to the Macedonians (8:1–5)

Poverty overflowing into wealth also may seem paradoxical, but it fits the crazy-quilt logic of the gospel: joy + severe affliction + poverty = wealth. Here, wealth relates to a wealth of generosity and joy multiplied.

They didn’t need things to make them joyful because they had Jesus!
Isn’t that how the apostles modeled faith for us?
Back in the book of Acts, the apostles kept getting arrested for preaching and teaching about Jesus.
After one of these arrests, they were beaten and then released.
Here’s how they responded:
Acts 5:41 CSB
Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.
acts 5:51
Isn’t that incredible? They were flogged, badly beaten, threatened, and released, and that was a source of joy for them!
It wasn’t because they loved pain. Instead, they loved Jesus so much that they were able to rejoice in being mistreated like he was because they stood up for him.
Christian joy isn’t simply happiness. Instead, the joy that motivates us to give out of our poverty is the certainty that our wealth isn’t in our money, but instead as we saw last week, it is in the fact that God was made poor to make us spiritually rich!
We just finished the offering. How was that for you? Did you give joyfully, entrusting these resources back to the God who allowed you to steward them, or was it just like paying your electric bill?
The God who calls us to give calls us to give with joy.
Because we are giving joyfully, that also means our hearts will be...

2) Generous.

2) Generous.

Look back at verse 2.
When these folks gave, it wasn’t that they just scrounged together what they could find between the couch cushions.
Isn’t that an awesome phrase, “in a wealth of generosity”?
The picture I get from that is that their giving was so overwhelming that it was almost ridiculous!
Have you ever been around a child with a generous heart?
They hear about a need, and they are ready to empty their piggy bank because there is a need and they have some money, so they are just going to give it all.
There have been times when we have had to tell the kids that they can’t give all of that so they can learn to save for the future. We have said to them, “You are giving too much!”
Isn’t that what Paul felt with the Macedonian believers? Look down at verse 4-5.
Their generosity was above and beyond what Paul and his associates could have asked.
Maybe they had more of a child-like faith than Paul!
Think back to telling kids that they can’t give that much.
You could argue that they have no real sense of the value of money, but maybe they do!
Perhaps their child-like faith is simple enough to believe that God will take care of them when they need it.
In fact, Paul points that out later in this chapter. Go down to verses 13-15.
Here is how Life Action Ministries puts that:
“I need to learn to give today out of my abundance (or supply) to meet the needs of others, believing that tomorrow, if I have a need, God will use the abundance of others to meet my need.”
The Macedonian Christians had that understanding, so they gave out of their supply, trusting that God would meet their needs when the time was right.
Is your giving that generous, or is your heart stingy when it comes to sacrificing for others?
Remember, though, that generosity isn’t defined by the dollar amount of what you put in the plate or give online.
We see clearly that our giving is also to be...

3) Proportional.

Look at verse 3.
Their giving was proportional to their ability.
Let me ask you a straightforward question this morning: If a person put $100 in the plate, and another put in $1000, who gave more?
The math on that one is pretty easy, right? $1000 is bigger than $100.
However, God’s math is different.
We have talked about this some already, but let’s go back to our first message in our giving series.
When we looked at the Parable of the Talents, we learned that God owns everything.
We even looked at , where God reminds us that every animal in the world belongs to him, so he doesn’t need our offerings.
In that story, we also saw that both of the faithful servants were given the same encouragement, even though the one earned twice what the other did.
Putting all that together, we see that God’s math is different than ours!
Yes, financially speaking, our church’s bank account increases more with the $1000 gift than the $100, but it may very well be that the $100 was a much greater sacrifice than the $1000, so it was the greater gift.
Jesus highlighted that exact scenario with his disciples one day:
Mark 12:41–44 CSB
Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:
In God’s eyes, the greatest gift is the one that demonstrates the greatest sacrifice.
You may be here this morning on a limited income, but you faithfully gave today, knowing that you have 1,000 ways you could have used that.
Someone else may have put in 10x more than you did, but they may not miss it at all because of how God has provided.
Your gift matters, not because of the dollar amount, but because you gave it out of a heart of obedience to God’s leading, honoring him with a gift that matched your ability.
Paul addresses this principle again later in the chapter.
Look down at verse 12.
The gift is based off what you have, not what you don’t!
Be faithful to give what you can right now, even if you don’t feel like it is much.
By doing so, you have the blessing of obeying God and honoring him with an act of faith and trust that others with more resources may never experience.
God’s economy is so much different than ours!
When a gift of pennies is more than a gift of thousands, you know something has to be different than normal!
That speaks to the final aspect of giving we want to look at this morning. Our giving should be...

4) Ordered.

When I say, “ordered”, here, I am not simply meaning “commanded”.
God does definitely command us to give, but that isn’t what we are focusing on here.
Instead, I am using “ordered” in the sense of having the right priorities, or in the right order.
Notice the order that the Macedonian believers used when they gave (verse 5).
“They gave themselves first to the Lord.”
Listen to me clearly this morning: God isn’t after your money, and neither are we, as a church.
God wants your heart before he wants your gifts.
It is easy for us to focus on outward actions of obedience and miss this truth, but God has always been concerned first with our hearts and then with our actions.
God’s people had gotten away from him, and they were going to be judged for it. God called to them through the prophet Joel and said,
Joel 2:12–13 CSB
Even now— this is the Lord’s declaration— turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear your hearts, not just your clothes, and return to the Lord your God. For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.
God wants you before he wants anything else.
He wants you to turn from trying to make life work on your own to letting him lead, guide, and provide for you.
Have you ever done that? Has there been a time in your life when you have turned from trying to live life your way to turn to Christ?
That’s the first thing you must give this morning: yourself!
Why? Because as we saw last week, God gave himself for you!
You and I could’t save ourselves—our debt to God was too big.
Yet God loved us so much that he would die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay our debt and give us his life.
Now, he asks you to receive that gift.
When you do, he gives you a heart that should grow in joyful generosity, giving according to your ability, out of a heart that is his first.
It isn’t that you are the Grinch, with a heart that is two sizes too small. Your heart is dead, and you need Jesus to make it alive!
When you give yourself to him, your heart doesn’t grow 3 sizes, it becomes new and alive!
Have you surrendered to him today? If not, that’s where you start.
If you have, though, perhaps you have drifted back into old patterns, and before you can be generous again, you need to surrender to him again in a fresh way.
Ask him to forgive you for letting sin back in, and ask him to help you to give generously to others for his sake again.
Keep in mind that the expectation is for you to give with a joyful generosity as you are able. It doesn’t just stop with surrendering your heart!
What would happen in our community and world if we could give generously and extravagantly, with the joy only Christ can give?
Can you imagine marriages where we gave to each other that way? What about our relationships with our kids?
What, then, would happen to our neighborhoods and our workplaces and our schools if we sought to give and meet needs like this?
What could Jesus do in the world with a group of people who would see what he had done and then turn it around to give joyfully, generously, proportionally, and in the right order?
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