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Essentials of Faith

The Heart of Generosity
2nd Corinthians 9:1-12
Amen, Amen.
Today we find ourselves in part 4 of our sermon series Essentials of Faith.
Over the last couple weeks we have looked at a few things that are essential to our faith.
The things that as Believers we should have in our tool box.
If you were to build a tool box for your home or vehicle there are essential tools that you put into it. Such as a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and some extra screws and nails.
Well our spiritual tool box is the same. We need spiritual tools that we rely on to use on a daily basis.
So far we discussed fasting and prayer, We said that prayer and fasting go hand in hand. Well I would like to congratulate you on making it through the 14 days of prayer and fasting. It’s my hope that you just did not blow these 14 days off and not participate. Because as we discussed it is important at the beginning of the year to make that statement of putting God first.
Please keep your prayer guidelines because these are prayers that we are asking you to pray for through your prayer time with God.
Last week we discussed a call for all believers to move past the prejudices of the world and to focus living in harmony with one another.
By remembering our hope, that God is faithful, and we are called to stir the pot of fellowship because of what Jesus has done for us.
When we live in harmony with one another it creates unity within the fellowship of believers and unity is crucial for a body of believers.
Well today we are talking about something that many people don’t like to talk about.
And that is Tithing, Giving, Generosity, yes money.
Now, tithing, giving, money is a topic that many churches ignore because of the turmoil associated with talking about money and giving.
But I want to open your minds this morning to the fact that the enemy loves to distract us from the truth. The Bible tells us that the devil is the father of lies. The enemy loves to put things in our minds that when we get paid, it's our money, we worked for it, and it goes into our accounts and what we are giving to God what is ours. But that is far from the truth. We have because God has given to us first.
And what I have found is this; when people become mad about the church teaching on money, the reason that most are mad is because they have to face their own reality that they don’t give or don’t give enough to God. So their natural response is, the church always talks about money and they get offended by it.
However; if they worshiped God through giving, they would be exited about their giving and learning more about it.
If you have your Bibles with you and I hope that you do, I invite you to open it with me to the book of 2nd Corinthians 9.
If you are unfamiliar with where 2nd Corinthians is, it is the 8th book in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1st Corinthians, then 2nd.
You know there are all kinds of seminars and programs that tell us how to get things in life. Some programs tell us how to get rich in real estate.
Exercise programs how to get strong, lean, and mean. There are also self-improvement gurus telling people how to succeed by listening, watching, and following their guidelines. And let me say that there is nothing wrong with being wealthy, strong, and successful in life.
Many people in the Bible were wealthy people, and God has no problems if you are wealthy or not.
But if we want the blessing of God. If we want to get things money can't buy, that robbers can't steal, things that time can't erode, that death can't take away, then we must have an heart of generosity towards God and His Church.
The Greek definition of generosity is this; it is a blessing, praise and a generous gift.
Now listen to this.. the specific word generosity is connected in two ways in the scriptures
Galatians 3:14 (NKJV) The Apostle Paul says: “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
This blessing is the generosity of God for the Salvation to all.
The Bible says in Eph 2:8-9
Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Paul compares this word generosity as the free gift and generosity of God. He also speaks of the generosity of beleivers as a blessing, and generous gift.
The Apostle Paul planted a church there in the city of Corinth. The city of Corinth at that time it was prosperous. It was the crossroads of trade, and you could say it was the trade mecca of that region, meaning everything that went out to the region went through the city Corinth. During this time of the letter that Paul wrote, there had been a famine in the region of Judea had some churches had experienced some economic tough times. (Some of us can understand that today as we have seen or experienced some tough times or maybe a famine of some sort in our lives.) because of the tough economic time, Paul enlisted a few Churches, and one of them was the church in Corinth. Listen to this very key: Paul recognized that the Corinthians were in a position to bless others.
Well, let's look at what the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthian believers about this very issue of giving, generosity.
If you are there in the book of 2nd Corinthians chapter 9, begin reading with me from verse 1. This is the Word of God, and it starts like this.
2 Corinthians 9:1-12
“Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous (unnecessary) for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God”
What the Apostle Paul is showing us is that the power of giving is tremendous. This concept of generosity is so powerful when it comes to giving with the right attitude.
Which brings us to our take-home truth today.

The Take-home Truth is this:

Generosity is a heart attitude towards God.

You may remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:19 as He gave the sermon on the Mount. He said, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Essentially, Jesus is saying to us that what we value the most in life, our hearts, our emotions, our love will be for that.
Answer this question to yourself; What do you value the most in life? When the church (the people) values God and His work the most, giving and being generous with an attitude from the heart will have incredible results.
In 2 Cor 8:8-9
2 Corinthians 8:8–9 (NKJV)
I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
I don't want you to miss this;
Paul was testing the sincerity of their love through their giving. The love for Christ above all else was and is to be the reason for giving.
When we give from our hearts, we say to God that we believe in His mission and it connects us to our mission to love God and others, grow in Christlikeness, serve, and share the Gospel with the world.
Now, the Apostle Paul is not telling us something new in verse 6 "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."
It is an old proverb. The Greek definition of "sow" is to extend one's hand to scatter seeds. It's like a farmer who plants only half of his fields expecting to receive 100 percent yield of all his fields. He sowed, planted only half; therefore, he would only receive what he has planted. Yet if he planted all his fields, he would reap what he planted.
Our giving is like the farmer. When we give, we are (in a way) planting our fields, and Paul says that you cannot harvest what you have not planted. Amen? (x2)
Look at verse 10 Paul gets a little deeper as he says, "Now may He who supplies seed to the Sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness."
What Paul is saying here is that God is the one who supplies the seed to sow and the bread for food. And when we sow the seed that was God's, to begin with, God, in turn, multiplies and increases the return for us.
The Bible tells us that God is love and that He so loved the world that He sent His Son, and that love has been manifested in His Son's sacrifice for us. And when we fully understand that we cannot help to love Him in return, for what He has done, is doing, and what He is going to do for us, we cannot help but sow the seeds that He has given us as an attitude of our hearts. Amen?
Listen, the Church is the only organization that Jesus said He would build.
Today I want to share with you the four “I” attitudes of generosity that the Apostle Paul speaks of.

The first I attitude of generosity is this:


The kingdom's foundation of giving is a systematic approach. This means to return a tenth of what we received from God.
Now I know that this is a subject that many people think tithing has gone away with the Old Testament.
But I'm afraid I have to disagree!
There is a reason that God set the tithe, to begin with. It was in the Old Testament when God set apart the twelve tribes. The Levites were set apart as the religious tribe.
Their job was to safeguarded the tabernacle and perform the duties and the service to God to include the sacrifices made on behalf of the people.
The Levite tribe was set apart and committed to the work and worship of God.
The other tribes were then to give a tenth of their increase to support them because they had no have income because thier job was to serve God and the people. God made a way for His servants to be taken care off.
In the Old Testament book, Deuteronomy chapter 14 verse 22 tells us, “You are to set aside a tenth of all the produce grown in your fields."
The argument is that Jesus fulfilled the law; therefore, the tithe is not consistent with the new covenant, or that tithing is a Mosaic Law, and we do not fall under that law, but that is inconsistent with the Bible teaches as a whole.
It was Jesus who said in Matt 5:17-18 that He did not come "to destroy the Law or the prophets. “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title by no means will pass from the law until all is fulfilled"
Let me ask; do you believe that the 10 Commandments are still in effect? They are divided into two parts 1-3 is about God and 4-10 about us.
Now Jesus added to the commandments by saying that there are two that are the greatest. Matthew 22:37-38 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and the second is like it love others as yourself. Jesus, of course, is quoting the Old Test book of Leviticus. Jesus did not say that the Ten Commandments were trash because He is the New Covenant, but He added the element of love to the commandants.
Why is this important to understand? Because Jesus is not taking the authority of God away, but He is adding grace and love to it.
Because of adding the emotion of love to the tithe, we can now exceed the tithe by the heart's conviction to bless God and His church.
Look back at the first part of verse 7 with me, Paul tells the church, “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart."
The ESV translates it like this "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart"
Our hearts should be towards God when we give.
I believe that the tithe that God set back in the Old Testament is an example of how the church operates today.
Today's Church is supposed to operate in the same manner, and as such, all believers are to give a tenth to support the churches mission, to pay the staff and expenses. This is the example that God has set for all believers.
As such, the book of Malachi chapter 3 verse 10 tells us: "Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. (I Love this part God Says to us) And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need."
Folks, God is telling us to bring not part of the tithe, but the whole tithe into the church and if we do, there is a promise for us.
Now the New Testament adds to that by telling us to bring it in on the first day of the week. 1st Cor 16:1- 2, Paul is talking to the church and telling them that "On the first day of the week, each of you is to set something aside and save… in keeping with how he prospers" Notice those words in how he prospers, this echoes the Old Testament tithe to give a tenth of your gain.
We also must understand that giving systematically is an act of worship. Jesus said that the first and greatest command is to Love the Lord your God with all our heart- mind and soul, our worship is an entirety issue with our heart at the center of our worship.
Therefore, when we bring our tithes and offerings to the Lord's storehouse, we do it with a worshipful heart. For generosity to be a blessing to God is must be done as an act of worship with a heart attitude towards God, we must give systematically.

The second I attitude is this:


Worship is not something that we do out of guilt- anger or hate. Worship comes from the heart, and so does a willingness to give.
Notice what verse 7 says again: "each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity"
When we do things out of contempt, grudgingly, God sees our hearts; He knows what we are giving and our attitude when we give.
Out of necessity means under compulsion.
It is being forced to give because of what someone might say or think about you. It is giving from the influence of another person. It's like squeezing a dry sponge.
Instead giving should flow from our hearts. It should be an act of love, thanksgiving, faith, and worship to God.
Listen to part of this article in Leadership Magazine by Eric Hulstrand, He said: "While I was preaching one Sunday, an elderly woman, Mary, fainted and struck her head on the end of the pew. Immediately, an EMT in the congregation called an ambulance. As they strapped her to a stretcher and got ready to head out the door, Mary regained consciousness. She motioned for her daughter to come near. Everyone thought she was summoning her strength to convey what could be her final words. The daughter leaned over until her ear was at her mother's mouth.' My offering is in my purse,' she whispered."
Her last words showed her attitude of giving and what was of the highest importance to her. Here are three typical attitudes of givers in the church. The one who gives grudgingly, one who is a guilt giver, then there is the one who is a grateful giver.
I used to be a grudgeful giver, and, there were times that I was a guilty giver. I tithed out of reluctance, and it was not from the heart. You see, the world says it's our money, and we are to take it, keep it, dig a hole, and bury it.
But the principle of the Kingdom of God when it comes to giving is different than the world's view. God says if you want to receive, then you need to give. Our ideas form our theological basis for tithing and stewardship. If we believe that God is the originator, the creator, and owner of all things. That God is both the provider and sustainer of life. That God is the giver and the source of all blessings.
That God is trustworthy and worthy of our worship.
THEN, our tithing and stewardship will match what we believe.
This took a long time for me to get to this point in my life. My tithing began to change when: I heard a sermon about giving. Once I realized that God expected me to return only a portion of what He was blessing me with, I became a believer in giving and stewardship.
When you begin to believe what God’s, mission is in the world, you cannot help but give out the love that God has shown you. You are empowered by the Love of God, which was shown to us on the cross. Proverbs 11:24 says, "One gives freely, yet grows richer; another withholds what is right, only to become poor."
For stewardship to be a heart attitude towards God, we must give systematically and willfully.

The third I attitude of generosity is this:


Look back at the end of verse 7; Paul says, "for God loves a cheerful giver."
You may want to highlight or underline that in your Bible to remind you. This is where we get the word hilarious, which means to be cheerful, glad, happy when we give.
It only appears one time in the Bible. It means for the hilarious giver; they are noticeably happy.
God prizes those who are so glad to give. REMEMBER – God is not looking at the money: God doesn't need what He wants is your obedience.
It just happens that this obedience comes from tithing. God is looking at the heart. Being a cheerful giver is a state of the heart, not how much you make daily.
There is a story in the book of Mark, chapter 12 of the widows offering. Jesus is at the temple teaching; he sat down by the treasure box and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people were putting in large sums of money. In verse 42, it says that a "poor widow came and put two small cooper coins which made a penny" Jesus said to his disciples that the rich men gave what was expected. But the poor widow gave out of her poverty- she put in everything she had, all she had to live on, the offering she gave was from her heart, and it was more effective than those who gave the required amount.
The fact is we can only be the cheerful give When we give from the heart.
Listen, folks. You can only become a true cheerful giver when you realize what Christ had done for you on the cross when He bared it all—all for you and He saved you even though you were already condemned as a guilty sinner- the Bible says that Jesus died for us to be redeemed, renewed, and saved. When you truly understand and believe it- you give cheerfully with a gracious heart. For Generosity to be a heart attitude towards God, we must give systematically, willfully, and cheerfully.

Then the fourth I attitude is this:


Notice what verses 6-12 says: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
That's relatively clear.
It's pretty easy math for anyone. You sow a little, and you reap a little. You sow a lot, and you reap a lot.
Paul is talking about giving, and he is talking about planting for the harvest.
He is talking about you get out what you put in.
Now, look at what Paul tells the church in verse 8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
When we plant, when we sow into the Kingdom of God, all grace is given to us, all things, all times, and having All that we need.
Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
These are great promises from God's word. That when you sow into the kingdom of God, God's promise is that you will reap what you sow.
Because GOD IS ABLE! ALL GRACE is given to us, and all our needs will be supplied. This means spiritually, physically, financially, and relationally. Listen to verses 10-11 10 “Now may He who supplies seed to the Sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”
When we give generously, blessing, praising God what He has given us, we empower the sowing that returns to us.
We will be enriched, but it will also produce thanksgiving to God by all people.
For generosity to be a heart attitude towards God, we must give systematically, willfully, cheerfully, and expectantly.
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