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Due to the fact that the readership is quite varied I understand completely that not each post affects every reader. Our goals include encouraging and helping preachers, strengthening Christians, causing all of us to think deeper as well as more seriously about Scripture.
Many of our readers are members of the Lewisville church where I have been blessed beyond measure to preach for nearly seven years. Some posts, including this one are written primarily with the wonderful Lewisville church family in mind. If you are not a part of the Lewisville church and wish to listen in please feel free to do so.
As you know this Sunday morning (January 23), we will be involved in our annual Purpose Sunday. As usual, the venerable Everett Cox will stand before us and present dreams, goals, and plans from our shepherds. He will remind us where we have been in the past year and where we hope to go in 2011. He will then ask every member to sign a purpose card for 2011.
Together as a family we will sign our cards of commitment to the work of the Lewisville church. Our prayer is that every family will pray about and discuss the commitment you will make. If you are in a position to increase your giving from last year we hope you will do that. During 2010 we gave nearly $31,000.00 each week. We need to purpose more than that this year to meet our commitments and to do more for the Lord’s cause.
There is much that needs to be done and we believe that God has brought us together for such as time as this. We have been tremendously blessed as a church and with blessings come wonderful opportunities as well as challenges. For seven years I have watched you as a family of God’s people rise to every challenge that has been presented. It has been a joy and a blessing to see you answer every opportunity.
The past few weeks we have been talking about generosity. Our studies have been based on Paul’s words to the Corinthian church found in 2 Corinthians 8. Allow me to remind you what Paul says about generosity in this great section of scripture (Perhaps some of you preachers/teachers can take these three simple observations and make a good lesson out of them).
GENEROSITY REVEALS THE GRACE OF GOD. Generosity reveals the grace of God. Money is one of the ways that we show that we belong to Jesus and understand him. He says that where our treasure is, our heart will be. He says that our heart is reflected in our finances. And generosity reveals the grace of God.
Paul says here, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God” – that God has been financially generous to provide for his people – “that has been given among the churches of Macedonia. For in a severe test of affliction” – listen to their circumstances, and perhaps for some of you, this is very familiar – “for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means. Great generosity of their own free will, begging us” – these are not people who are giving reluctantly, they’re begging to give generously – “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” – helping other Christians who were struggling. “In this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord” – they love Jesus – “and then by the will of God to us.” They love fellow Christians. They fulfilled Jesus’ two commands – to love God and to love others. “Accordingly, we urged Titus” – another Church leader – “that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.” Grace here being financial grace. (2 Corinthians 8:1-6)
GENEROSITY REWARDS US AS WE SHARE IN CHRIST’S SUFFERING. Money is in every way a reflection of our biblical convictions. If you say, “I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins,” then I would say, “How generous are you?” You may say, “What does my money have to do with my spirituality?” It has everything to do with your spirituality.
If you believe God is generous, you should be generous. If you believe God is a giver, you should be a giver. If you believe that God helps people, you should help people – not because you have to, but because you get to, because that’s how God has treated you. Paul says it this way, II Corinthians 8:8, 9. “I say this not as a command but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
GENEROSITY REMINDS US THAT WE ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST. Here is how Paul says it, “I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness, you’re abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that their may be fairness, as it is written:” – and he quotes the days of the exodus, when manna came from Heaven to feed God’s people – “as it is written: ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.’”
What Paul is saying in this passage is that people matter to God. As God’s people and his representatives in the world people should matter to us as well. We should strive to help those who are hurting and we should make sure that we help one another.
In another passage Paul said that we should “do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith. These scriptures are strong reminders that every Christian stands equal in the site of God insofar as all of their sins are forgiven? God’s love is fully poured out on every Christian, and our relationship with God doesn’t include first and second-class citizens in the family of God.
This equality means that because of Jesus, all Christians stand before God in the same place, equally loved, equally forgiven, equally cared for, equally treasured. Some of the old preachers used to say, “the ground is all level at the foot of the cross!”
This doesn’t mean that we all live in the same home, that we all wear the same shoes, that we all drive the same car. It’s not the communist vision, where the government doles out resources so that there is uniformity. But it’s the biblical vision, where apart from the government, God’s people share generously, so that those who have been entrusted with much are able to give much to help those who are struggling and in need.
Dear Father, help us to demonstrate Your grace through our generosity. Help us dear Lord to share in the sufferings of our Savior through our generosity. Finally, help us God to show our love and concern for people through our generosity. We give You thanks for teaching us the meaning of generosity through Your self-giving nature. Help us to grow in this grace also. In Jesus Name, Amen.