Sun. a.m. AGCC 9/24/2000
#3 (Demands of Discipleship Series)

TEXTS:     II Cor. 9:1-15; Lk. 6:38


Christ disciples were noted for their generous hearts, the early Church was quite amazing, they sold all their property and shared the total assets together as needed (imagine trying this today!?) Once they were full of the Spirit of God generosity broke out. There is something fundamental to being a Christian that expresses itself as a generous spirit. The term "stingy Christian" is nothing more than an oxymoron! Christ Himself showed a generous spirit in everything He did, and the Old Testament even demanded that believers were kind and generous to the poor and needy. Jesus and His disciples could not pass by a cripple, or a needy person begging when they traveled, they would give what they had, and when they had no silver and gold they gave a prayer for healing and things happened! The spirit of generosity comes from the Spirit of Christ. ILLUS:Milton J. Petrie went to work in a department store in Indianapolis, Indiana at the age of sixteen for ten dollars a week. Today he is a billionaire. He never forgot the early days. He has given away over 123 million dollars. He does not give only to charities like cancer research and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He reads the newspapers for stories of unfortunate people and then writes them checks: people like the family of a wounded policeman, or the family that sold their home so their child could be treated for leukemia, the model whose face was slashed, children, and others treated cruelly by life. He often demands anonymity and is uncomfortable talking about his gifts. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997). The cost of discipleship is selflessness, Christ called His disciples to show a generous heart in every kind of way, financial, in granting forgiveness, in love, in helps, in attitude, and in speech. It is a fundamental part of being a Christian. PROP. SENT:     The Bible teaches us to be generous in every aspect of our lives. The world discovers the power of Christ when they see the image of Christ stamped in our lives, and generosity is very much a part of Christ's nature.


A. Prepared     9:1-6 1. The Corinthian believers had promised to give a generous offering to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem (see Chapter 8) a. The Jerusalem Church was going through deep waters, and poverty was not uncommon. b. The Apostle Paul had shared the need in several places, and Corinth was one of the first places he had shared the need. 2. The Corinthians immediately responded with a willingness to give as soon as they heard of the need. a. Paul praises them in this passage for their quickness in promising help. b. In fact, Paul states that he used their expressions and promises of help to boast to the Macedonian believers, which in turn inspired them to follow suit. c. It is interesting to note that being generous can be catchy! 3. Now the problem: The Corinthians who had been some of the first to promise help were now last in actually giving it! a. The Macedonians had already collected their offering, inspired by the Corinthian's willingness to give. b. The Corinthians to date however had failed to follow through on the offering. c. Paul writes to tell them he will send some brothers to them to help get the offering collected BEFORE the Macedonian brethren show up in Corinth so they will not be embarrassed by their failure to follow through. d. Paul did not want to be ashamed of them, nor have them ashamed of their own failure to be generous. 4. As kind of a final note, Paul reminds them to be generous … as indeed believers SHOULD BE. a. He uses a farm metaphor … you reap what you sow, so be generous if you hope to have generosity come back your way. b. So often we fail to realize how true this principle is, it is true with everything, not just finances! ILLUS:John Smith was a loyal carpenter, working for a very successful building contractor who called him into his office one day and said, "John, I'm putting you in charge of the next house we build. I want you to order all the materials and oversee the whole job from the ground up." John accepted the assignment with great enthusiasm and excitement. For ten days before ground was broken at the building site, John studied the blueprints. He checked every measurement, every specification. Suddenly he had a thought. "If I am really in charge," he said to himself, "why couldn't I cut a few corners, use less expensive materials, and put the extra money in my pocket? Who would know the difference? Once the house is painted, it will look just great." So John set about his scheme. He ordered second-grade lumber, but his reports indicated that it was top-grade. He ordered inexpensive concrete for the foundation, put in cheap wiring, and cut every corner he could, yet he reported the purchase of much better materials. When the home was completed and fully painted, he asked the contractor to come and see it. "John," said the contractor, "what a magnificent job you have done! You have been such a good and faithful carpenter all these years that I have decided to show my gratitude by giving you this house you have built, as a gift!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 288-289. 5. Not only would the Jerusalem believers suffer should they fail to be generous, but they too would be hurting in many other ways themselves. a. We cannot express Christ's reality to the world if we are unwilling to be like Christ. b. Paul wanted them to PREPARE to give … it is not an irrational act based on a momentary impulse, he wants them to plan, prepare, and prove their generosity. B. Pleasure     9:7 1. God loves a cheerful giver! a. God is moved by generous people, because it is so much like Himself to be a giver! b. Giving should be a pleasure and not a chore! 2. Too often Christians see "giving" as an expected demand on their resources rather than a privilege, and so they have a terrible attitude toward giving … and then wonder why their faith is not so vibrant and joyful! ILLUS:I heard about a little girl who experienced a major breakthrough in her life when she learned to tie her own shoes. Instead of excitement, she was overcome by tears. Her father asked, "Why are you crying?" "I have to tie my shoes," she said. "You just learned how. It isn't that hard, is it?" "I know," she wailed, "but I'm going to have to do it for the rest of my life." My hunch is that some of us feel the same way when it comes to Christian stewardship. We learn that it's exciting to give. But isn't there just a tiny bit of dread because we know we have to do it over and over again for the rest of our lives? -- Heidi Husted, "The Sermon on the Amount," Preaching Today, Tape No. 122. 3. One of the greatest joys of being a Christian is the joy of giving! a. Why do western cultures have so well developed health care systems? It was the influence of Christianity in the western world that promoted the care of human beings … this is a historical fact! In nations not influenced by Christianity there is very little developed health care systems. b. Great joy is found in giving … if you are miserable, give you way out of it!!!! (and not just by finances, but in every way) II. PROMISES OF GENEROSITY     9:8-11 Lk. 6:38 A. Provision     9:8-10 1. God's promise to givers is that He will provide for them so that "they can abound in every good work." a. In other words, God's blessings on givers is to enable them to be even more giving, not just to fill their barns for personal use! b. There is a goal to giving, to enable God's grace and love to flow from source to source. 2. God explains that their giving means He "will enlarge the harvest of their righteousness." a. This means that their act of generosity will produce a spiritual harvest, not just financial gain. b. Spiritual gains are greater than personal financial ones, they are eternal in nature rather than material and temporary. 3. God wants His followers to scatter generosity freely! a. The more we spread it around, the more life and blessing it brings! ILLUS:While in Canada, I visited one believer who operated a large grain farm. His spread included some twenty-five hundred acres. I asked him how he planted the seed. He reached in a bin and pulled out an ear of corn. Then he proceeded to pop out the kernels one by one as he walked along, demonstrating the planting process. Do you believe that? No, sir! That's not what he said nor is it what he did. He showed me a distributor that was some thirty feet wide. "We take that double tandem truck, fill it with certified seed, back it up to the distributor, open the slots, and pour in the seed." He went on to say, "If you're ever going to be cheap, don't be cheap with the seed." One bushel of seed invested yields thirty bushels of grain harvested in a good year. Thirty to one--not a bad return, if you are ready to believe and willing to invest. God says, "Believe Me, trust Me, try My plan, prove My ways, and see the kind of harvest I will give." So Paul guarantees this principle of truth in the Scripture with the promise, "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8). All grace, all ways, all sufficiency, all things! There are four promises in one breath. Knowing it is one thing, believing it is quite another. Jack Exum -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 463. b. God is the supply for both the giver and the receiver. B. Paradox     9:11     Lk. 6:38 1. God's care and love would not permit them to lose in their giving, this is the remarkable truth about giving when done properly. 2. The fact is, no one who gives generously can be poorer, God takes notice of both the poor and the giver, and supplies for them both! ILLUS:The boy in the Bible who gave up his loaves and fishes didn't have to go hungry. -- Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1990). 3. Jesus made the same statement in Luke 6:38 (NIV) "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." a. We only channel God's blessings, we don't exhaust them. b. Generosity taps the very core of God's being, and this means it is inexhaustible. III. POWER OF GENEROSITY     9:12-15 A. Positive     9:12 1. Giving always has a positive twist to it, even if we are taken for granted by others in our giving, God's still blesses us! a. Giving causes others to be thankful, and when they know it is coming from our desire to honor Christ it causes thanksgiving to flow not only to us, but to God Himself! b. In this sense giving has an evangelistic element to it! 2. It is important that our attitude be a positive one however, people can tell what our true motives are in giving! ILLUS:Giving is a joy if we do it in the right spirit. It all depends on whether we think of it as "What can I spare?" or as "What can I share?" Esther York Burkholder - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4357. 3. There is real power in giving to change ourselves and others! B. Proclamation     9:13-15 1. The Corinthian's act of generosity would demonstrate their obedience to God as well as the joy there is in giving … and this would result in their "confession of the Gospel of Christ." a. We preach the truth about the Gospel when we are generous. b. Jesus who gave Himself totally demands of His disciples that they be givers too. 2. The power of the Gospel is seen in our lives by our willingness to give, it reveals the true power of the Gospel by changing what is essentially a sinful demanding nature to a kind and generous nature who puts self last. 3. It also produces a powerful effect on the lives who receive from us … there is a real power in giving. ILLUS:The Los Angeles Times (12/15/96) reported that David Suna and John Tu sold 80 percent of their company, Kingston Technology Corp., the world's largest manufacturer of computer memory products, for $1.5 billion dollars. The two men decided to share their windfall with their employees. The average bonus payment their workers received was just over $75,000. Sun summarized their decision: "To share our success with everybody is the most joy we can have." -- Scot Snyder, Los Angeles, California. Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 3. 4. Through the giving they did lives were touched for Christ, resulting in great thanksgiving. a. One of the most powerful ways we touch lives is in our giving. b. People understand the selfish nature we all have, and when they see people who can abandon their own selfish nature and give joyfully they want to know how to have that power too! c. Giving is a powerful evangelistic tool, one that reveals the true nature of Christ in the lives of believers. 5. How good a giver are you? Would others call you generous? Does God call you generous? CONCLUSION:   The heart of God is generous! Generosity is about "giving," not getting. "God so loved the world that He gave…" Jn. 3:16 We cannot enter a real relationship with Christ and then display a stingy heart! The paradox of being a generous giver is that you end up with far more than you ever give … but not necessarily in cash! The power of generosity is that Christ is proclaimed by our generosity.