Sermon March 20, 2005 : II Corinthians 9:6
In the 30 minutes or so that we have left we’re going to be reading out the Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 9. There in verse 6, the Apostle Paul reads: “…. Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is also able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
We will read the remaining text in Spanish so please follow along in English. But this is the essence, what we just read. The Lord bless his word.
In the last several weeks you know that we have taken some time, we’ve taken pains, to lay down a biblical foundation for the capital campaign that is before us. Even in raising funds for any cause we want to make sure that we’re directed by the biblical pattern that’s laid out. We want to honor the Lord and his spirit and we have refused to use manipulative techniques. And we wanted to elevate your level of faith and elevate your vision. We don’t just want to make you excited about a vision of bricks or mortar, but for the mission that that building will make possible.
I heard in a recent sermon that Sam preached that God is not interested in raising up a building but a people. And one of the principles that we want to establish is to give to the Lord for this cause in particular is that we’re entering into a kind of lifestyle. To give to the Lord is not an act it’s a reflection of your lifestyle. It’s something that we do continuously as we see how God has blessed us in the building of His kingdom. There may be people saying: pastor, you’re speaking way too much about money. What we have done is we have set aside this time for this project and focused our energy for this on this project. But the Lord Jesus spoke on many occasions about money. He was not afraid of using our material possessions as a way of measuring our commitment to the Kingdom of God. Throughout scripture we have many references on how the use of money is a reflection of our spirituality.
Recently while considering this time of this capital campaign, I made a mental review of the texts that might be appropriate for different sermons. Let me tell you I have at home a list of over 30 texts which would be ideal for a sermon on stewardship. But don’t worry I don’t plan to preach 30 sermons on stewardship. But what is true is that throughout scripture this theme arises over and over again that in the same manner that we relate to money and to our material possessions, that will reflect our relationship with the Lord and his kingdom. I have some rest in knowing that the Apostle Paul beat me out in capital campaigns in raising money. He had no fear at all, the Apostle Paul in addressing issues of raising money for support for spiritual…… and in all the times that we have faced financial campaigns, I have made an effort of making the Apostle Paul my mentor in how to go about and in a time of financial scandals in the Kingdom of God and it’s more important than ever that those of us who raise funds for the Kingdom of God do so with integrity. Recently I heard about a financial scandal involving one of the biggest ministries in the world. A very less than encouraging report on how this ministry handled its funds. I certainly dare not diminish how God has used this ministry to expand the gospel. But as we can see they could have been much more careful in the use of their money and the image that they project to the world through their testimony. And that’s why it’s important, it’s not that we should stop asking for money for the causes of the Lord, but that we should do it in a way that is consistent with the principles of the gospel.
And if we investigate Second Corinthians 9 and even Second Corinthians 8, we could review many of those concepts. I don’t know if I can touch everything that I would like to touch this morning, but I believe what we will review will be a blessing to your life. And you’ll notice that many of the principles that we pointed out in the preceding weeks, the Apostle Paul employs them in his own financial campaign. Chapters 8 and 9 introduce us to one of these financial campaigns of the apostle Paul. He’s raising funds for use of the saints in an area of great need. For example look at verse 3 speaking to the Macedonians, in chapter 8. He says: “… for I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability”.
Here we have a couple of principles on how to give to the Lord. The Apostle says that they gave as much as they were able with pleasure, with great pleasure. In other words when we give to the Lord we should do it with great joy. We should give to the Lord because it is a privilege to give to the Lord. And it also says that they were able to give according to their ability. The Lord is calling many of us in other words to give according to the financial capacity that He’s given us all. And in this financial campaign we don’t want anyone to feel that we’re steering them towards some heroic act. And when you fill out that promise card, do it in a way that you feel good in your conscience. But the apostle Paul says that they gave beyond their ability, and I dare say that this is the manner that pleases the Lord the most. We have spoken about giving to the Lord in our discomfort zone. We have seen how the Lord has called us to give in an area that our reason would say that is beyond our ability to give. And many of you who have experienced the faith, know that faith begins just where our reason begins to stretch itself out, where reasons’ envelope becomes stretch. And often the reasoning beyond faith goes way beyond the reasoning beyond our intellect. And that’s why the Lord calls us to give in that zone of discomfort as the Macedonians. In fact it says that these Macedonians urgedly pleaded for the privilege of sharing of their contribution. And we pray that the Lord fill this church with people who ask the Lord: God give opportunities to give to the Kingdom of God.
Verse 7 of chapter 8 reads: “but just as you have excelled in everything, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us, see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” And here we see that we don’t just give to the Lord with our words or with our feelings, but in specific actions. It’s so easy to say yes to the call of the Lord to love with all our heart and with all our strength. But the word says that he who loves money cannot love God in the same way, because you cannot love two lords. So love requires that we interpret it, express it through acts of love to the Lord.
There are so many other principles, take verse 12 for instance: “if the willingness is there, the give is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have”. This thing of having a willing attitude is very important. What we see here is that the apostle Paul is preparing this region so that when the time for them to give they give in a volitional and prepared way. And that’s what we’ve made an effort to do so that when the time comes for you to give to the Lord, you’ve done in a way in which you have volitionally prepared from beforehand what you’re doing and you know why you’re doing it. Because many times giving to the Lord isn’t a matter of just your feelings, your affections, but a matter of your intellect, it’s a volitional decision that you make.
That takes us to verse 6 of chapter 9. The Apostle Paul repeats a principle we’ve heard often whoever sows sparingly will also reaps sparingly, whoever sows generously will also reap generously. When I read this verse I think immediately of the principle of grace versus actions. We know that salvation is by grace. But we know once we’ve entered into the dominion of the Kingdom of God through grace the level of growth and productivity and fruitfulness in the kingdom that you will reach will be affected by the level in which you invest in, the level in which you make an effort to forward the Kingdom of God. In other words once we are saved there’s a level effort that the Lord expects from us. The blessings that derive from the Kingdom of God, the understanding that we have of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God will depend in great part on the works, the efforts that we make in the Kingdom of God. That’s why the Lord Jesus says “ask and you will receive. Seek and you’ll find. Knock and it will be opened to you.” In other words in the Kingdom of God the reaction will depend very much on the actions that we impose. And to the degree that we invest our time, our energy, our efforts, our intellect in the Kingdom of God, to that degree we will receive from the Kingdom of God.
This concept of sowing I would use in our modern language, the word invest. The investor invests because he knows that through a very complicated, maybe even in a mysterious process, he will receive his investment in…… we as children of God invest in the Kingdom of God knowing that we not only bless the Kingdom of God but we bless our own lives as well. And it’s not a matter of trying to manipulate God or establishing some sort of mechanical leaver in which we’re trying to get a specific response from the Kingdom of God, but it’s a matter of inserting ourselves in a dynamic that the very Lord Jesus established to his word. God says: you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly. If you sow or invest generously in the kingdom, you will receive generously in the kingdom. I cannot be any more elegant than God. There are many people who resented when preachers share these truths because they expect their preachers to have a theological capacity that will exceed the very words of the word of God. Or they think they have a theological capacity that is even greater than God, and we need to see how God has called us to live the Christian life and how He has called us to get to him.
In verse 7 we have other principles that says: “… each man or woman for that matter, and brethren one of the key objectives of this campaign is that we have one hundred per cent participation in this. And brethren we’re talking about members of this church, we’re not addressing visitors or people who do not consider themselves members of the congregation Lion of Juda. But I am addressing that every one of our brethren, every one of our members may consider the call of God on their own life. Perhaps you may not be one of those 200 souls that we have asked to give 5000 dollars over two years. Perhaps you may not be one of those who have given already or some of those who plan to give far in excess of the 5000 dollars, but I believe that every one of us can give to the Lord without any sense of shame or harm what God has already laid in their heart to give. We pray that every brethren here, every person may give in the way that the Lord has called them to give, there will be no measuring that this person gave more than that person. We rebuke that already in the name of Jesus. But let us not lose this concept of “each one”, because God wants each one of us to do his part in the Kingdom of God. There have been studies that have been done that have said that 20% of the church carries 80% of the responsibilities in the church. And I believe God is calling us so that each one of us, each one, may carry their responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.
It says here each one, for each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give. In other words we have to take action, we have to go beyond the theoretical and actually take action. And it goes on and says “as they decided in their hearts to give”. In other words I invite you beforehand to reflect in your heart, what has God called me to give.
This idea of proposing, deciding in your heart suggests a level of seriousness, of intentionality, to give to the Lord is something very serious, it requires prior reflection. And we should be very clear about what we are doing, and not do things in a rush because the things of the Lord are serious. Our prayer that when you bring your offering you may do so in the spirit of seriousness and reverence before the Lord. And the apostle Paul says “not with sadness”. In other words, not missing out on that money: wou, what I could have done with all that money! Don’t have this vision of dollars signs with wings and fly away. You can’t give to the Lord with sadness. You have to give to the Lord with cheerfulness and joy. Amen, because the Lord loves the cheerful giver.
And it says here “not out of compulsion or need”, in other words “not out of false sense of commitment”. In other words I don’t want anybody thinking: wow, if they don’t see my card among that stack of cards, what’s the pastor going to think? And I could think of a deacon or one of the leaders sayings: well, what choice do I have, if I want to keep my job I’d better give. We’re not worried about our deacons, not at all, those people are first class.
Brethren let’s not give out of obligation or compulsion in a sense of what are people going to think. Because let me tell God reads our hearts and if you’re giving in that way you’re gift is not going to please the Lord and you’re wasting that effort. It’s necessary that you give to the Lord for this church and that you do so out of cheerfulness and out of a sense of personal commitment. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. That’s when we receive a gift, isn’t it awesome when we receive that gift with a big smile. Isn’t it horrible when someone stretches out the gift and says; hey, there, take it. No, it’s necessary that there may be a gift from the heart and from the soul.
And there’s a marvelous promise that we need to have another sight here. It says: “the Lord is powerful to make all grace abound to you”. I have discovered that every time that the Lord has asked to give to Him generously it’s always accompanied by a promise. Because the Lord is good and merciful. He says, my son, my daughter I’m able to replace what you have given. And remember we have always shared in these last sermons that when we give to the Lord for any cause, we should give from a perspective of sufficiency and not out of a sense of uncertainty or fear, because the Lord always says: do not worry, you shall not want I am your shepherd.
And here the apostle Paul after his sober warning about how we should give to the Lord pours some oil over our backs where we have received a spounding. And he reminds us: remember God has sufficient power in order to give you grace, or in other words his provision. And it says “all grace”, in other words God’s ability to bless you, to give you his grace is without limits.
And look at the overabundant language of the apostle. And he says: “ and here in having all things always, having all that you need, all that is needed, that you may abound in every good work”. In other words there’s a kind of redundancy of the provision of God. He gives us all grace for every situation, at all times, in all things, everything that’s needed so that we may abound in every good work. God promises: I will always give in your life, at all times. And you know why? So that you may do good throughout your life. Because the Lord supplies and He gives so that we may be channels of his love,so that we may bless others, with the blessing He gives us, with the talents He gives us, with the energy He gives us, with our professions, with our bank accounts, with our money. I’m going to make sure, the Lord says, that you have everything you need so that you give abundantly in all ways.
In other words the Lord is saying: give to me and don’t have any fears. Don’t worry, don’t give thinking in what you’re going to miss. Don’t give thinking what are they going to say if I don’t give. Don’t give with sadness thinking about what you’ve lost, but no, give looking at me. And I promise you that I am powerful enough to give you more than you have given me. Let that be our heart this morning, that we may also give for the Kingdom of God. Amen.
Let’s just stand for a moment. Let’s just take a moment to internalize what we have received, that part which you feel is of the Lord. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to record that in your spirit, that the Lord may integrate it into every aspect of your being. May we be cheerful, joyous givers every day of our lives. Let’s adopt this mentality of giving to the Lord, it is a beautiful style of life. May it be that whenever there is a cause for the kingdom that needs to be defended and participated in, and support it, that the Lord may find in you and I a willing participant, a willing heart, that has understood the dynamics of good stewardship, that no longer lives in the realm of matter and pettiness of the world and material things, but that dwells in the realm of faith of the spirit. The Bible says that those who are of the spirit they dwell in the realm of the spirit. I receive the word of God this morning, the part that touches my life, I receive it as the word of the Lord. Receive it as the word of the Lord in your heart, confess it to the soul, within your spirit. Father, help us to be committed people, help us to be people of understanding of the principles that govern your kingdom and even the universe. And Lord certainly you bless and support those that bless and support your kingdom. You have designed things because it has pleased you, not because it has been inevitable, but because you decided this was the way that I wanted to be, and so we participate in your system this morning. We thank you.