Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Principles for Giving

Last Sunday's sermon came from 2 Corinthians 9. As we listened to Paul's appeal for the Corinthians to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem, we found three life-changing principles of "giving for the harvest":

  1. We are to give humbly (2 Cor. 9:10). All our money - indeed, everything in life - belongs to God. He is the One who gives us life, breath, time, strength, family, jobs, possessions, etc. Thus, when we give, we should have a heart of humility, thanking Him for the honor of giving back a portion of what is already His.
  2. We are to give generously (2 Cor. 9:5-6, 8, 10-11). God expects us to give bountifully and sacrificially. He makes us rich so we can in turn be generous toward others. But since few of us feel rich and able to give generously, we must learn to see giving as an act of faith, taking a step of obedience, even though we may not know how God will provide. If we wait to give until we have the money, we will never give.
  3. We are to give joyfully (2 Cor. 9:7). God does not want our giving to be with a heart of sorrow, or under pressure, but out of a cheerful (hilarious!) heart. Giving should not be a duty, but a delight, for several reasons: (A) It is an act of worship; a love offering. (B) It is an act of obedience, which brings joy. (C) It is a reminder of Christ's gift to us (2 Cor. 8:9). (D) It is seed planted for a spiritual harvest, caring for the poor, supporting gospel ministers, and reaching the lost with the gospel. (E) It is a guaranteed investment for eternal reward (Matt. 6:20-21).
Questions for thought and discussion (the first four questions come from an article entitled "Money Power," published in Discipleship Journal, Issue 12, 1982):
  • On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is lowest and 5 is highest), rate yourself in the following areas: How much of a giving person am I? How wisely do I use my wealth? How willing am I to provide financial support to ministers of God? How willing am I to provide financial support to help the poor? How well do I plan my expenditures? How sacrificial am I willing to be in order to give to others? On a typical day, how grateful am I for what God has given me?
  • What are some ways I am using my money and possessions to help bring people to Christ and extend the kingdom of God?
  • Are there any ways in which I may not be using my money wisely in God's sight? What are they?
  • What changes could I make in order to be wiser and more generous in the way I handle my wealth?
  • Am I being a good steward of all the possible sources of income and "seed for the harvest" God has entrusted to me? (e.g. salary, investment returns, tax refunds, Social Security, alimony, gifts and inheritances, income from sale of assets, etc.).
  • Have I considered setting up a charitable trust and reserving a portion of my estate for God's work?
(Sunday’s sermon will be uploaded soon to our podcast site and will be available for free download or to listen online.)

May God help us apply His Word this week in our hearts, in our words, and in our actions.

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