We are officially in the Christmas season now. Last Friday was the beginning of the Christmas shopping days at most retail outlets. Lights were lit in many cities including our own. So I believe that this series of messages are right in line with the time of year that we are in. Last week we began a series on the Christian and his possessions. We are going to look at many aspects of this subject in the coming weeks. Tonight we want to consider "giving". We will look at the beauty, nature, and purpose of giving.
If you want to understand the biblical principles concerning giving, the best place to look is in 2 Corinthians, chapters eight and nine. This evening I want us to focus on one particular vers found in the midst of this passage on giving. READ: 2 Co. 8:9.
I. The Beauty of Giving.
A. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
1. Paul writes assuming that this is true.
2. He declares to these believers that they "know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ".
3. Note, he isn't talking about knowing Christ, but rather knowing the "grace" of Jesus Christ.
B. What is this "grace"?
1. We tend to think of "grace" in theological terms.
2. We think of Ep. 2:8 where we are "saved by grace".
3. But the word "grace" means beauty and attractiveness.
4. The word took on new meaning when the writers of the New Testament used it to describe the work of God which was beautiful and glorious.
5. Finally, grace had its glorious manifestation in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
C. It is the beauty of Christ's self-sacrificing gift on Calvary.
1. We all want to be known as generous giving people.
a. no one wants to be called stingy or miserly.
b. no one wants to be known as a "scrooge" when it comes to giving.
c. at least we want to be known as generous and giving whether we are or not.
2. One of the first problems in the early church was concerning giving.
a. Ananias and Sapphira wanted the reputation of being generous givers...
b. Without actually giving generously!
c. God the Holy Spirit struck them dead, because they were attempting to imitate the beauty of giving.
3. Contrast that with the Lord Jesus Christ.
a. the quality that endears Him most to us is His readiness to give of Himself.
b. the fact that He did not hold back or act in any slefish manner, but willingly gave His life for us
c. Paul writes, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
II. The Nature of Giving.
A. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor..."
1. The Apostle Paul has the incarnation in view here.
2. Jesus Christ was rich, and gave it all up for us!
a. He was rich in power...He created the world and all that is in it, but He gave that up and became a man.
b. He was rich in love...all the hosts of angels in heaven worshiped and adored Him, but He came as a man and was despised and rejected.
c. He was rich in resources... everything was His, and yet He was born and lived in poverty.
1) He had to borrow a manger to be born.
2) He had to depend upon others for a place to sleep, clothes to wear, and food to eat.
3) He was buried in a borrowed tomb.
4) He who was the King of Kings lived as a pauper.
B. We have not truly given as Jesus until it has cost us something.
1. He put no limits upon His giving. cf. Jn. 13:1
2. His pattern for giving involved no reserves, no half- measures, no conditions, no holding back, pouring out everything that he had.
3. David understood this principle of sacrificial giving.
a. note: 2 Sa. 24:17-24
b. David said that he would not offer burnt offering unto the Lord which cost him nothing!
c. how different from the attitude today...many will only give to the Lord from their surplus, if even then!
4. Illustration: Man travelling in Korea.
a. saw a father and son plowing their fields, but the son was pulling the plow!
b. his guide explained that they were Christians and that several months ago their church needed money for a new building.
c. desiring to give an offering, this poor family took their only ox, butchered it, and sold the meat at the market giving all of the proceeds to their church's building fund.
d. the man expressed that it must have been a most remarkable sacrifice for them to do such a thing, but the guide said that they didn't think so, they thought that they were rather fortunate to have an ox to give.
C. The nature of giving is to give up what we have that others might have what they need.
III. The Purpose of Giving.
A. "That ye through His poverty might be rich:"
1. This is not verification for all of the false teaching today on health and wealth Christianity.
2. That teaching is totally self- centered!
3. True Christian giving is never directed inward, it is always outward.
B. We do not give in order to get in return.
1. Too often we look at the angles, what's in it for me?
2. If we can see that there will be a substantial benefit to us, then we will get involved.
3. I wonder what would happen to our offerings if we lost our tax exempt status, and could no longer qualify for tax deductible gifts?
4. I am not saying that it is wrong to take the tax deductions that we qualify for, but if that is the only reason that we give...
Conclusion: Jesus has given us the pattern for Christian giving. It goes far beyond the tithe! Giving is a beautiful part of our Christian worship. Consider tonight how rich we are because Jesus, for our sakes, became poor.
We are rich in His love: how dull, how barren, how cheerless and dreary our lives would be without the warmth of God's love. We are rich in truth: we have His Word opened to us time and time again. We have gained insights into reality, we have seen things in their right perspective, and life has finally been brought into proper focus because we have His truth. We are rich in His power: In Christ we have been able to win battles and experience victories that we have never had before. We are rich in His daily mercies: We have clothes to wear, food to eat, nice homes in which to live, we have more blessings than we could ever imagine because of Him.
As we reflect upon His pattern of giving, our heads should be hung in shame over what we give, why we give, and how we give. May each of us tonight be challenged to seek to measure up to His standard...especially in the grace of giving.