Learning to Give Up

2019-10-06 – Year C – Proper 22 – Joy of Giving Up Series – Christopher Klukas
Habakkuk 1:1-13, 2:1-4; Psalm 37:1-17; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7; Luke 17:5-10

  • Introduce Series – For the next few weeks, we will focus on the virtue of Generosity in a series called “The Joy of Giving Up.”
    • Sunday services, but also Wednesday evenings and using the daily devotional.
  • Talking about money can be tough
    • Some consider talking about money to be taboo
    • Some barely have money to survive on
    • Some people have lots of money but don’t want to part with it
    • Some people are controlled by the pursuit of money
  • To cut through the discomfort of talking about money, I’ll start with a joke:) 
    • Two men were marooned on an Island. One man paced back and forth worried and scared while the other man sat back and was sunning himself.  The first man said to the second man, “Aren’t you afraid we are about to die.” “No,” said the second man, “I make $10,000 a week and tithe faithfully to my church every week. It’s Stewardship Month at my church. My Pastor will find me.”
  • Some churches talk about money too much. But it is also a mistake to not talk about money at all. The Bible has lots to say about money and how we use it.
    • Generosity is a heart issue and one that God cares deeply about.
    • God is a generous God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” (John 3:16)
      • Jesus gave up his life for us, as we respond to this gift we are called to give up our lives for him, acknowledging him as Lord over every part of our lives, including our wallets.
    • We are made in God’s image—generosity is a part of who we were created to be.
    • We will examine this over the next month by looking at chapters 8-9 of 2 Corinthians.

The Sender and Receiver of 2 Corinthians

  • Paul
    • Paul was a well-trained Pharisee. A zealous persecutor of the Church. Philippians 3:4–6. This is why he called himself the “least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9–11)
    • He had a significant change of heart, a conversion, and he gave up everything to follow Christ and make him known. Philippians 3:7–9a.
  • The Church in Corinth
    • A town of go-getters who “excel in everything” (2 Corinthians 8:7).
    • They were attracted to “Super Apostles” (false apostles) who were eloquent in speech and preached a message much like the prosperity Gospel.
      • “If you follow Jesus everything will be peachy!” or “If you have enough faith you can just name the blessings you want from God and claim them”
    • Many of them were accustomed to accumulating lots of wealth for themselves and hoarding it (1 Corinthians 11:20–22).
  • Background on the collection for the relief of the saints
    • Mentioned in Acts 11:27-30 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.
    • Paul had a negative interaction with the Corinthian church on his last visit, the Corinthian church was rebelling against him and he left in humiliation. Part of his reason for writing this letter was to repair their relationship and to remind them of their commitment to give to this collection for the relief of the saints.

The Macedonian Challenge

  • As part of his encouragement for the Corinthians to give generously, he sets up a challenge: Corinthians vs. Macedonians (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea).
    • He praises the Macedonians for their example of generosity.
    • the Macedonian churches experienced joy and abundance in the midst of suffering and affliction. vv.2-4.
      • “…just as persecution did not take away from their joyfulness, neither did poverty diminish their ability to be generous.”
      • My first experiences of giving as a young college student to my church and to compassion international.
    • This testimony of the Macedonian Christians tells the “efficient and excellent” Corinthians that we do not give out of the overflow of our circumstances, but out of the overflow of grace we have been given in Christ.

Giving Up

  • We do not give down to others from a position of power and privilege; we give up to God. We give up our own plans and join the work of God in restoring all things. 
    • 2 Corinthians 8:5 – “First to the Lord and then by the will of God to us”
    • This is not a blind following of Paul, they are giving ultimately as a way to serve the Lord and by the Lord’s direction.
    • Parables of the Kingdom – Matthew 13:44–46
    • The kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure ever. It is worth giving up everything to take our place in it and to welcome others into it..
    • When we give to kingdom work it is not a drudgery that we are compelled to participate in, it is a joy-filled experience as we give out of gratitude to God and as we take on his generous character which he so freely pours out on us.

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