“BE RICH & GIVE GENEROUSLY”
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
The Bible teaches primarily two ways of giving for the finance of the Lord’s work. Those two methods are by the giving of tithes and offerings. “Faith Promise or Grace Giving” concept is an organized approach to missionary giving.
Tithing is simply returning the first tenth of all ones material blessings to the Lord through ones local church. This has been God’s plan of providing the finances for maintaining His house and His ministers since the days of Abraham-Malachi 3:8-12, Matthew 23:23). The tithe is the Lord’s, and it should be cheerfully given back to Him “upon the first day of the week”. It has been well said that giving the tithe is the outward sign of an inner commitment! Offerings are those gifts required by the Lord, of His people, above and beyond their tithe. The children of Israel were charged with robbing God when they withheld both their tithes and offerings!
The Faith Promise Offering is a free will offering which is collected throughout the year which helps provide the finances to support our worldwide missions program. Missions involve sending personnel who devote their time to preaching the Gospel and planting churches in the regions beyond our local church ministry. These individuals are called “missionaries” who are sent forth by the local churches.
What does “Faith Promise or Grace Giving” mean as described in II Corinthians 8, 9, and 10.
1. It is a promise to God: This is NOT a pledge to a church. A pledge is something a person agrees upon guaranteeing liability of collection in case of nonperformance. This offering, however, is a promise which is made between the giver and God. It is a promise to give a certain amount which God leads the giver to make on a weekly basis to the missionary program of their church. Such a promise helps set a systematic goal for the donor.
2. It is an act of Faith and by Grace: Believers often think about exercising faith in various areas of needs and service, but not many ever consider that giving should be done by faith also. The Bible informs us “that whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. So, when we give by faith, we are simply trusting and believing God to supply the amount He impresses upon our heart to promise. Additionally, it is trusting and believing God to meet our needs in absence of that which we give to Him. This is where grace comes in.
3. It is a free will offering for others: The offering being dealt with in II Corinthians 8 was given willingly by those within a local church with the intention of it being distributed to those in another area of the world. The purest possible exercise of this principle is given with the intent of evangelizing the world. The purpose of this type of offering is totally for others.
4. It is a promise for a year: Each year in October, our church will have its annual “Faith Promise Missions Conference”. As our hearts are impressed by God, we pray and determine what we will give through out the following 12 months to support our church’s mission program. In essence, we promise God that we will faithfully give an offering each week, above our tithe, for the entire year!
Why should we give a Faith Promise Offering? In five different passages of Scripture, we have recorded a command given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His church which we call the Great Commission. This understandable command obligates each Christian with the responsibility of insuring that the Gospel message is given to every person alive on planet Earth- Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:27-48, John 20:21, Acts 1:8.
In 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, Paul says more about giving than in any of his other writings. He was trying to raise money from the Gentile churches for the poor in the Jerusalem church. Behind his appeal was his deep desire to see the church be united and not split along Jewish-Gentile lines. I want to focus where Paul gives the motive for his appeal. In 2 Cor. 8:9 he says, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” And, in 2 Cor. 9:15 he exclaims, “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable/ indescribable gift!”
Paul is saying, in response to God’s indescribable gift, we should become generous givers. God is a giving God. He gave the most astounding gift imaginable when the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal second person of the Trinity, gave up the splendor of heaven and came to this earth, took on human flesh, and bore our sins on the cross. Earlier in this letter, Paul described it: “For he hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:22). Let us now consider the Biblical principle of giving.
I. The Beauty of Giving- “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”-v:9.
A. The beauty of knowing.
- He declares to these believers that they “know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He isn’t talking about knowing Christ, but rather knowing the “grace” of Jesus Christ.
- What is this “grace”? We tend to think of “grace” in theological terms. We think of Eph. 2:8 where we are “saved by grace”.
- The word “grace” in this passage is speaking about giving. Giving is beauty and attractive. It describes the work of God which was beautiful and glorious. Grace had its glorious manifestation in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
B. The beauty of Christ’s gift.
- We all want to be known as generous giving people. No one wants to be called stingy or tightfisted. No one wants to be known as a “scrooge” when it comes to giving. Most want to be known as generous and giving whether we are or not.
- One of the first problems in the early church was concerning giving. Ananias and Sapphira wanted the reputation of being generous givers… Without actually giving generously! God the Holy Spirit struck them dead, because they were attempting to imitate the beauty of giving.
- Contrast that with the Lord Jesus Christ. The quality that endears Him most to us is His readiness to give of Himself. The fact that He did not hold back or act in any selfish manner, but willingly gave His life for us. Paul writes, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
II. The Nature of Giving- “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…”
A. Jesus Christ was rich, and gave it all up for us!
- How can I begin to describe such an indescribable Person? If the heavens could open and we could all get a glimpse of Christ in His glory, we would be struck speechless and would fall at His feet as if we were dead (Rev. 1:12-17).
- We cannot begin to imagine the splendor, the glory, and the riches that Jesus Christ gave up to come to this earth. None was richer than Christ was.
- And what riches! Jesus, as the eternal Second Member of the Trinity, as God the Son, living in the riches and splendor of the ivory palaces of heaven, surrounded constantly by the glory and power and majesty of God.
- The riches Jesus enjoyed before adding humanity to His deity make any amount of wealth on earth seem poor!
- We have not truly given as Jesus until it has cost us something.
- He put no limits upon His giving- Jn. 13:1, “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
- His pattern for giving involved no reserves, no half- measures, no conditions, no holding back, pouring out everything that he had.
- Illustration: “Man traveling in Korea saw a father and son plowing their fields, but the son was pulling the plow! His guide explained that they were Christians and that several months ago their church needed money for a new building. Desiring to give an offering, this poor family took their only ox, butchered it, and sold the meat at the market giving all of the proceeds to their church’s building fund. The man expressed that it must have been a most remarkable sacrifice for them to do such a thing, but the guide said that they didn’t think so, they thought that they were rather fortunate to have an ox to give.”
B. None became poorer than Christ became.
- Yet for your sakes He became poor: Jesus lived His earthly life as a poor man. We should not exaggerate the poverty of Jesus; after all, He was not a destitute beggar. Yet, He could say of Himself “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20).
- When we contrast the simple life of Jesus (He became poor) with His existence before adding humanity to His deity (He was rich), we are even more amazed. Poverty always feels worse when one has been rich.
- Most amazing of all is why Jesus accepted this simple life of poverty: “yet for your sakes.” This was Jesus’ “giving.” He gave financially in the sense that He accepted a humble life of poverty (when He had all power to live as the wealthiest man in all history), and He did it for [our] sakes.
- Why would Jesus need to become poor for your sakes? How does His poverty benefit us?
- We understand that the ultimate goal would for Him to be our sacrifice, for our sins, to save us for death and hell.
- It also shows us the giving heart of God. Because it shows us the relative importance of material things. Because it makes Jesus open and accessible to all. Because it rebukes the pride that might refuse to come to a poor Savior. Because it gave others the privilege of giving to Jesus. Because it fulfilled the heart and will and plan of God, making our salvation possible.
- None was richer than Christ was! None became poorer than He did for our sakes so that we might become rich through Him! He is God’s indescribable gift to us!
- But part of the wonder of the gospel is that Christ became like us so that we may become like Him. Being rich in Him, like Him, we are to impoverish ourselves out of gratitude. Since Christ is the giver, par excellence,
C. The nature of giving is to give up what we have that others might have what they need.
- Our giving should be like God’s giving of grace to us: giving freely, generously, because we want to give.
- When God gives to us out of grace, the motive for His giving is in Him, not based in the one receiving.
- That is how we should give; because the motive of the love and generosity of God is so big in our heart that we simply must give.
III. The Purpose of Giving- “That ye through His poverty might be rich.”
A. The Lord Jesus was a grace giving.
- “That ye… might become rich” refers to the spiritual riches that Jesus gives to all who place their trust in Him: He offers forgiveness, justification, regeneration, eternal life, and glorification.
- Jesus purchases us from slavery to sin and makes us children of God. He gives us the right and privilege to approach God with requests and praise.
B. The believer is to be a grace giver in return of Christ giving.
- We do not give in order to get in return. This is not verification for all of the false teaching today on health and wealth Christianity. That teaching is totally self- centered! True Christian giving is never directed inward, it is always outward.
- Too often we look at the angles, what’s in it for me? If we can see that there will be a substantial benefit to us, then we will get involved.
- There are two ways you can tell that you have lost sight of grace giving:
- If giving is more of a duty than a delight. Grace means that God has blessed you abundantly when we deserved His judgment. Grace motives us to abound in generosity in response to God’s abundant gift to us.
- If you give inconsistently and insufficiently to the Lord’s work. Ten percent was the bare minimum under the Law of Moses, although there was much more giving, because there were several tithes. True grace motives us to abound in obedience out of love for God.
C. What are the marks of a grace giver?
- Generous giving applies to all, even to the poor. (8:2). Giving is more a matter of mindset than of income. If you have a giving attitude, you’ll find a way to give no matter how much you make. Studies show that the poor give more proportionately than the rich.
- Generous giving is sacrificial (8:3). It dug into their lifestyles. They had to do without some things and postpone other things in order to give. You may struggle with the balance between being prudent in providing for the future (a biblical principle) and giving sacrificially. But I know that sacrificial giving puts you out on a limb where you have to trust God to provide and it brings great joy when you see Him do it. If you aren’t doing with less because you’re giving more, then I encourage you to try it the coming year.
- Generous giving is voluntary, not pressured. (8:3b-4). The Bible speaks very directly about money, as Paul does here. So in that sense it “pressures” us. But the motive is not guilt or gimmicks, but sincere love for Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in 2 Cor. 9:7.
- Generous giving is based on a commitment to Christ and His people (8:5).
- Tithing can foster the notion that you give ten percent to God and spend 90 percent as you want to. Biblical giving is based on the premise that God owns 100 percent; you manage it for Him and someday will give an account for what you did with His resources.
- Underlying the concept of biblical giving is that you have submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ and that you are committed to furthering His work through His people. The Lord isn’t after your money; He’s after you!
- Generous giving involves planning and faithful follow through, not impulsive promises.
- The Corinthians had promised to give a year before, but they had not followed through (8:10). Paul here is saying, “Follow through on your promise.”
- Prayerfully plan how much you can give. But then once you’ve promised God and planned to give a certain amount, you’ve got to be careful to follow through or greed will steal your giving.
- Generous giving looks to God for money to give (9:8). As you probably know, George Muller supported over 2,000 orphans through prayer, without making his needs known. But Muller didn’t just ask and receive from God. He also gave generously to the Lord’s work. At one point he fully supported ten missionaries in China. Over a 54-year period, he gave away 86 percent of what he received for his personal support. He could have become wealthy and lived in luxury. Instead, he kept the bottom of the funnel open and God kept pouring in the top. Ask God for money to give and watch Him supply it!
- Generous giving reaps bountiful results (9:6).
Jesus has given us the pattern for Christian giving. It goes far beyond the tithe! Giving is a beautiful part of our Christian worship. Consider how rich we are because Jesus, for our sakes, became poor. As we reflect upon His pattern of giving, our heads should be hung in shame over what we give, why we give, and how we give. May each of us be challenged to seek to measure up to His standard…especially in the grace of giving.