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Sunday, October 11, 2020

It's Time to Excel in Giving

2 Corinthians 9:11-15

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (CSB) We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: 2 During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, 4 they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, 5 and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will. 6 So we urged Titus that just as he had begun, so he should also complete among you this act of grace. 7 Now as you excel in everything ​— ​in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us ​— ​excel also in this act of grace.

In the apostle Paul’s first letter to this church, he asked the Corinthian church to participate in a special offering he was collecting to help the church located in the city of Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1—4). The church in Jerusalem was suffering from both famine and persecution. The believers had little food or money. Paul asked this church, as well as some others, to help them in their need. Not only would it bless them physically, but it would demonstrate how the gospel unites Jew and Gentile in one body.

Here in 2 Corinthians 8—9, he returns to the subject of this offering, encouraging them to complete it, so it can be taken by messengers to those Christians in need. The way Paul addresses this subject shows us why God wants His people to excel in giving.

1. When we give, we reflect His generosity.

When God’s children excel in giving, we look like Him. But not if we do so grudgingly. To excel in giving isn’t about the amount you give, but the attitude in which you give. The kind of giving which excels reflects God’s joy in the act of giving. Paul describes the Macedonian Christians’ “abundance of joy” that overflowed in giving. This is the way that God gives to us. He didn’t need to give us anything. Nothing we have is because we earned it. All of it is because God joyfully and willingly wanted to bless us with His bountiful benevolence.

2. When we give, we reveal His faithfulness.

To encourage the Corinthians to give, Paul points them to the example of the Macedonian churches who gave in spite of tremendous hardship. These churches were being persecuted for their faith, they had lost jobs, and yet they begged Paul for the opportunity to participate in the offering. When we give generously, we reveal God’s faithfulness. Not only is He taking care of us, but He uses us to take care of others.

3. When we give, we retell the Gospel.

Giving isn’t primarily about physical or financial resources. It’s about the disposition of our hearts toward God and people. In this passage, the word grace is used synonymously with giving. In fact, the word grace is used 8x in these two chapters, 4x in these first seven verses. Only those who have received God’s grace can excel in giving. It takes a transformed heart and the work of the Holy Spirit to produce lasting, joyous generosity. When we give, expecting nothing in return, it opens people’s heart to hear about how Jesus gave His own life for them. The way we give either commends the gospel or confuses the gospel.

God wants you to join Him in what He’s doing. He doesn’t need your help. He isn’t counting on your skills or ability or resources. He loves to give, and He wants you to love to give too. He made you to be happier when you’re giving not getting. He enjoys you, and so He invites you to help Him make an impact on people’s lives.

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