Second Mile - Part 2

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  8 : 3
Subject: Giving; Worship; Stewardship; Christian Living
Series: Shoe Leather Christianity
[Editor's Note: This is part 2 of the sermon Second Mile. You will note that this message begins with point III. Points I. and II. are found in the first sermon on the Second Mile. You will find point IV. in Part 3 of the sermon Second Mile. All these sermons are on SermonCity.]
Introduction

John MacArthur wrote, “Giving in particular is a significant element in God’s design for the Christian life. Giving advances His kingdom, glorifies His name, meets the needs of others, and lays up treasures in heaven, bringing God’s blessing in this life and the next. It must be a regular feature of worship as the church comes together on the Lord’s Day. Christians are to be careful stewards of the resources God has entrusted to them. They must be wise about earning, saving, investing, and spending money. And just as they are careful in those areas, so they must also be in how they give their money.

In this passage the Apostle Paul testifies (reveals) his firsthand experience of the Macedonian’s generosity to the Lord’s work. Remember, Macedonia consisted of Berea, Thessalonica, and Philippi.

Philippians 4:19 - “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:14-16 - “Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.”

Paul’s Motive: Philippians 4:17 - “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”

Paul’s Testimony: Philippians 4:18 - “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”

The Paradox of Generosity-Christine Smith and Hillary Davidson, reveal that giving of yourself helps boost your health, wellness and personal growth. Practicing generosity can reduce stress, put us in a better mood, and even provide relief from pain. So why don’t more of us embrace being generous? It’s actually difficult to learn how to give and to foster an attitude that makes you want to give all the more generously.

A lot of the roadblocks lie in external notions we have about giving (it’s a nice thing to do but not an essential one) or anxieties over not having enough of our own resources for ourselves, whether time, treasures or simply energy.

Smith and Davidson argue, “those who don’t give generously are actually missing out on all the heart-happy benefits.”

FINDINGS: Most generous people were relatively low earners suggesting the barrier to giving is rooted in psychological factors. In other words, stinginess isn’t really about not having enough to give, it’s about the fear of not having enough.

The Expression of Grace. The Experience of Grace.

III. THE ENTHUSIASM OF GRACE 3

Somehow in this most difficult circumstance, the Macedonians joy and the fact of being down to their last penny themselves, produced a magnificent concern for other people.

A. They Proportionally Gave

Enthusiastically

“for I bear witness that according to their ability.”

They gave in proportion to what they had; “ability” means power or strength, refers to their capacity or means.

Matthew 25:15 - “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”

1 Corinthians 16:2 - “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

Another way to say what’s in 2 Corinthians 8:3:

2 Corinthians 8:12 - a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”

What one has is the resource out of which he should give. God never asks believers to impoverish themselves. The Macedonians received a special blessing of grace from God to give the way they did.

The key to one’s actions lies in one’s attitude.

God assesses what is done, not by the size of the total, but by the resources available to the giver.

Portion versus Proportion:

Portion: a part; that allotted to a person; share.

Proportion: the comparative relation in size; a part in relation to the whole.

EXAMPLE: Story of the widow’s mite.

Mark 12:43-44 - “So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "’Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’"

You are never more like Jesus than when you are giving.

In the 1st century, Rabbinical rules forbade an offering of less than 2 mites, so this widow brought the absolute minimum. Yet she gave all.

Reminds Me Of Jesus:

He gave His all, He also paid the (minimum) requirement: Justice Satisfied.

One other way to say it according to Paul:

2 Corinthians 8:13-14 - “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack — that there may be equality.”

Paul wanted them with more than they needed to help those who had less than they needed.

In 1 Timothy 6:17 Paul said, “instruct the rich, to be generous and ready to share.”

Note in verse 14:

The table may turn; the fortunes of life could change. “Your abundance” “their abundance.”

Not equal gift, but equal sacrifice.

The Sufficiency of one ministers to the Deficiency of others.

One last thought from Smith and Davidson’s book, Paradox of Generosity:

They found that being generous can actually help you conquer financial insecurities because deciding to give away, say 10% of your income requires real planning, careful budgeting and figuring out where you can cut back.

So taking the time to comb through the details of your finances often influences people with a meaningful sense of control they might not have had otherwise.

B. They Sacrificially Gave Enthusiastically

“yes, and beyond their ability” – over and above; sacrificial giving. No prompting or reminding.

Here, grace (still the subject) is manifested in the fruit of a large and self-denying liberality.

They gave according to what they had but in proportion they were sacrificial. They were compelled by the needs of others.

Question: What would a SACRIFICIAL gift to the Lord’s work look like from you? What do you give? What do you have left?

C. They Voluntarily Gave Enthusiastically

“they were freely willing”- giving in the context of grace at work in our hearts is seen as a privilege instead of a duty. Their giving was on their own initiative; it was self-motivated and spontaneous.

freely willing (on their own accord) refers to those who choose his own course of action. The Macedonians were not coerced, manipulated, or intimidated, but gave freely.

My giving is not to be based on an Old Testament principle but on a New Testament person

(2 Corinthians 8:9).