Prove It

2019-10-20 – Year C – Proper 24 – Joy of Giving Up Series – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas
Genesis 32:3-8,22-30; Psalm 121; 2 Corinthians 8:8-15; Luke 18:1-8

  • Re-introduce Series – We are in the middle of a three sermon series called “The Joy of Giving Up” on the biblical virtue of generosity. Our primary text is 2 Corinthians.
    • Sunday services, but also Wednesday evenings and using the daily devotional.
  • In the first sermon, two weeks ago, we introduced the author, the Apostle Paul, as he wrote to the Corinthians (who excel in everything), encouraging them to excel in generosity also as they take up a collection for the relief of the saints in Judea.
  • This testimony and challenge 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.
  • 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.

Proving Love Through Action

  • 2 Corinthians 8:8 and the primacy of love (often translated charity).
    • The Greek word for love here is “agape”
      • The latin word that was used to translate this word is “caritas” from which we get the English word “charity”.
      • Agape is a selfless, altruistic, sacrificial love.
      • “…the church, being itself totally dependent on the merciful love of God, practices a love that does not desire but gives.”
  • Paul encourages the Corinthians to prove that their love is genuine by participating in this collection.
    • “Put your money where your mouth is,” “Talk is cheap.”
    • James 2:14–17

Where Your Heart Is

  • Put Your Mouth and Your Money Where Your Heart Is
  • A man died and went to heaven. He met Peter at the Pearly Gates and was led down the golden streets. They walked by mansions and beautiful estates until they came to the end of the road where they stopped in front of a little shack. The man asked St. Peter why he got a simple hut when there were so many mansions where he would be more comfortable. St. Peter replied, “I did the best with the money you sent us.”
    • I don’t tell this joke to promote the “prosperity Gospel”. In God’s economy we don’t give so we can get, nor do we earn favor with God through our good works (giving included). But it does hint at something Jesus warned his disciples about.
  • Matthew 6:19-21
    • Where we place our earthly treasure reveals something about what we value in our hearts. How we handle our money has a remarkably formative effect on our hearts, much more powerful than anything we say. For good or for ill.
      • Think for a moment about your annual expenses. Where does your money go? What does it say about what you value?
    • It is easy to make an idol out of money, or out of the things money can buy.
    • “Money makes promises it cannot keep. Whoever loves money will never be satisfied with his income” – Patrick Morley author of The Man in the Mirror

The Example of Christ

  • Jesus provides us with a different way. Instead of seeking after more and more, Jesus seeks to give more and more.
    • 2 Corinthians 8:9
    • Did you know that you are rich? You may or may not have a large bank account, but if you have put your faith in Jesus, you are rich in the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • The way of Jesus, the way of generosity, is an antidote to the temptations that come with earthly riches.
    • When we give sacrificially, we imitate Christ, who became poor for our sake, and we become more like him.
  • It can be hard to give at first just like it is hard to run or lift weights if you are not in the habit of doing so. Our world has trained us to be stingy and to cling to what we have.
    • Paul says, this very act of giving increases in us the desire to give—it trains us (forms us) in Christ-likeness and gives an authentic witness to the world.
    • Paul indicates that when we begin to give it also increases our desire to give.
      • 2 Corinthians 8:10
  • Generosity is not determined by the exact value of what you give. Generous giving is in proportion to “what you have”
    • 2 Corinthians 8:11-12
    • For one person, $20 might be a generous gift. For another, $10,000 might be a stingy gift.
    • This is why the Bible presents a percentage (10%) instead of an exact amount as a good starting place for giving to the work of the Kingdom.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 – The abundance God grants us is to be used for Kingdom purposes.
    • Paul is not asking the Corinthians (and us) to give away that which we need to live on. We need a place to live, and food, and clothing, and transportation.
    • But when we have abundance, he is encouraging us to consider kingdom giving instead of spending it on ourselves.
    • Rich Mullins sold lots of recordings, but he never knew how much he made becasue he gave most of it away.
  • This week I want you consider where your treasure is going and what you have set your heart upon.

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