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Cheerful Giving

January 27th 2013 by Joel Schultz

Today is week 2 of our Consecrated Stewards program and we turn our attention to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 9 where he talks about how to give. Read or listen for more...

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Consecrated Stewards Week 2 – “Cheerful Giving” – 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 – January 27, 2013

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 8).

One of the keys to living each day as a steward is centered on our attitude. St. Paul points to the proper attitude of a steward in our text today: “Each one must give…not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Stewardship is really more concerned with the question “How?” rather than the question “How much?”

If you were to ask Paul, “How, much do you expect us to give?”, his response would have been what he writes in this verse, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart.” Although the Old Testament command of a 10% offering may well be a good starting point for us in our stewardship, we are no longer obligated (or limited) by that Old Testament command. This is because of Jesus. Jesus came and fulfilled the Law perfectly in our place and by His death and resurrection we are set free from the wrath and condemnation of the Law. We are no longer bound by or limited by the Old Testament Law. As a result, we, like the Corinthians, are free to choose for ourselves what amount of our time, talents, and treasure to give.

However, if we are free to choose for ourselves what to give, we cannot ignore the responsibility which that freedom gives. Paul points out that we are responsible for planning our giving: “Each one must give as he has decided.” This is where a pledge card like the one you will receive and bring to worship services on Feb. 10th comes in handy – it is a tool to help you in your planning responsibility.

As we take up this responsibility to plan the giving of our time, talents, and treasure to the Lord and His church, Paul eludes to a spiritual battle which is waged within every Christian. You see, our planning process is always aided by the new man – the redeemed child of God – living in us, but it is also obstructed by the old man – our sinful nature – which still clings to us. We have the responsibility of making sure that we listen to the right voice within us.

Paul tells us the difference in the attitude of the new man and the old man within us. As we plan our giving, we are reminded that the old man – our sinful flesh – gives only reluctantly or under compulsion. The word translated reluctantly literally means “out of grief.” The sinful nature gives out of grief. That makes sense since the sinful nature is marked by greed and covetousness. It grieves the sinner in us to part with money or time or talents unless they are used for a selfish end.

The new man, on the other hand, Paul points out, is a cheerful giver. This is the Greek word from which English derives the word “hilarious.” Think about that word. The new man finds hilarity – great joy and happiness – in using every gift God has given for the benefit of others.

The new man remembers that God Himself is a cheerful giver. He didn’t even spare His own Son. He eagerly and joyfully and voluntarily gave His one and only Son – all that He had – to pay the price for our sins – to pay the price for every time we are not responsible in our use and giving of our gifts.

Jesus Himself gives all for our sakes. He had absolutely everything. He was Lord of the universe. Everything was at His command. But because of His great love for us, He freely gave up all of it – not just 10% – so that through His poverty we might become rich. Rich with His gifts of forgiveness, life, salvation, peace, joy hope. What incredible grace – undeserved love – God has for us!

Living each day as a steward means to remember that giving originates with God. And it is this cheerful giving – giving of His Son, giving of forgiveness, giving of eternal life – on the part of God which inspires the Christian to be a cheerful giver.

But what is even more remarkable is that Paul continues in the second verse of our text by emphasizing why we don’t have to hesitate to be generous, cheerful givers. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Wow! The God of all grace will see to it that in all things and at all times the Corinthians and you and me will have all we need so we can abound in every good work.

With these words Paul assures us that we will be able to put into practice the kind of cheerful, generous giving he has been talking about. We will be able to do this because God – the God who is able to make all grace abound to us – will Himself be at work in our lives. All the riches of God=s marvelous grace, a grace that moved Him to send His Son, a grace that through the Gospel had brought forgiveness and faith to you and me – that grace will move us to be cheerful givers.

God’s grace in all its rich variety will continue to abound, literally, “overflow,” in our lives. It will make us certain that the God who has given us Jesus will also give us all we need so that we can abound in every good work. God’s abounding grace will result in abounding good works, among which will be the good work of cheerful and generous giving.

A church that had an ongoing problem with people not giving of their time, talents and treasure, printed the following notice in their weekly bulletin. “We are all saddened to learn of the death of one of our church’s most valuable members…Someone Else. Their passing has created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Someone Else has been with us for many years, and for every one of those years, did far more than a normal person’s share of the work. Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. “Someone Else can work with that group.”

Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s list…Someone Else. “Let Someone Else do it” was a common refrain heard throughout the church. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest givers in the church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference.

Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes appearing superhuman, but a person can only do so much. If the truth were known, everyone expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone, and we wonder what we’re going to do.

There is no Someone else. There is only you and me, by God’s rich grace, cheerfully doing the Lord’s work together – cheerfully giving our time, talents, and treasure – in response to the great love our Lord has poured out into our lives. Amen.

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