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Christ’s Example of Selfless Giving. 2nd Corinthians 8

07/09/2013

Ballymacashon Congregational Church

Lord’s Day 8th September 2013
Service Theme: A Example of Giving in Grace

Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1ff
In chapter 8, there is a change of tone. Titus has made his report. He reports about the moral problem, and about the collection for the Jerusalem saints. This was the one great moral obligation that Paul wanted to fulfil. The church at Jerusalem was very poor, while many of the Gentile churches were actually quite wealthy, so Paul organised offerings among the Gentile churches, and sent the money to support the poor church, back at Jerusalem. The Corinthians had started off by laying aside money every Sunday, but they had become slack in their giving! So Paul writes to them about GIVING, and he points to two EXAMPLES OF SELFLESS GIVING!
So, firstly, let us see:-

1. The Example of the Macedonian Churches. V1-5
Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia
Before Paul reaches his main argument here, he begins by pointing the Corinthians to the practice of some other churches, those in Northern Greece – Macedonia. His argument is that if other Christians can do this, so can you Corinthians!

a) The IDENTITY of the Churches in Macedonia. Now, firstly, who were these Macedonian churches?

* The Philippian Church. It’s origins are in Acts 16:11-40, Acts 16:15. There was great persecution of the church at Philippi. Acts 16:39-40 Yet despite that persecution, the church at Philippi supported Paul’s missionary activities, right throughout his whole ministry! Phil. 1:3-5
* The Thessalonian Church. Acts 17:1-10 Again a church in much persecution, but a church with great love. 1 Thes. 4:9-10
* The Berean Church. Following his mission to Thessalonia, Paul went to Berea. We know less about the Christians there, except that they were very diligent in studying the Word of God, and that some of the Jewish leaders in the area, having seen what happened at Thessalonia, then came to Berea and began a persecution of the church there also. So fierce was this persecution, that Paul had to be rushed away by ship!

So, all of these churches were formed under the preaching of Paul. They are all suffering greatly as they are persecuted by the authorities and the Jews, and they are all generous, charitable, sacrificial givers!

B) The GENEROSITY of the Churches in Macedonia.
* They Gave JOYFULLY! 2 Cor. 9:7
* They Gave SACRIFICIALLY! For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing
* They Gave WILLINGLY! The Macedonians gave VOLUNTARILY to the Lord’s work! They were a GOOD EXAMPLE. Paul is consistent in this, and he is simply applying the teaching of the Saviour Himself. Acts 20:35. Later in the chapter, Paul talks about giving with a WILLING MIND. V12
* They Gave INSISTENTLY! imploring us with much urgency that we would receive[a] the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. Paul says, “imploring us with much urgency” – they didn’t just offer Paul money, they insisted that he should take this money. The Macedonians were a far better example. They INSISTED that Paul take the money!
* They Gave MORE THAN MONEY! And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. They gave far more than money. THEY GAVE THEMSELVES! They gave themselves to the Lord, and they gave themselves to his work. God doesn’t just want your money. He wants YOU! If God owns all of ME, giving money will not be a problem for me.

All of society was against the Macedonian Christians, but they were joyful Christians in the midst of hardship, who are giving well beyond their ability. The Corinthians were a rich church, in a busy cosmopolitan sea port. There is nothing to stop them from exceeding the giving of the other churches.

2. The Example of the Saviour! V6-9
Now, Paul makes a very clear statement about the theology of giving.

* Giving is A GRACE. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also. Look at the list of qualities of this church. Now they must abound in this grace also! A Grace is something that you do for someone else without expecting anything in return. It is UNCONDITIONAL GIVING that demonstrates Christian love!

* Giving is NOT A LAW! Now this is interesting for there are a lot of legalistic theories around about giving. The OT Law laid down an amount, called tithe, which had to be given. A lot of preachers today still teach that Christians should give 10%, but you can’t make it a LEGAL REQUIREMENT. It is OBLIGATION – NOT LEGISLATION! Once it becomes a legal requirement for Christians to do something, they are no longer doing it because the love the Lord and His people, they are doing it because they HAVE TO. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.

* Giving is a RESPONSE! What is it a response to? It’s a response to what Christ has given for us. Compare your level of joyful, free-will giving with that of Jesus. He was unbelievably rich. – He became poor. He gave up ALL His wealth, so that we could become rich through His poverty! That poverty was demonstrated for us at the Cross.

These Corinthians, part of the family of God, have an ABUNDANCE of worldly goods, and out of that abundance, they should be able to make up for those who have far less.

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