The Grace of Generosity

2016-07-01 – Year B – Pentecost 6-26 – The Rev. Christopher Klukas
Deuteronomy 15:7–11; Psalm 112; 2 Corinthians 8:1–15; Mark 5:22–24, 35b–43

  • In Ethiopia, coffee is very important culturally. This is something I can relate to!
  • There is a woman named Cham who visits villages around Gambella, bringing coffee to gather local women, and then taking the opportunity to share about some basic hygiene practices that can save lives.
  • The average woman in that region has 9-11 pregnancies and only 2-4 children usually survive. Cham, herself, lost one of her children, and their family has had lots of sickness.
  • Through the Gambella Anglican Centre, Cham learned the importance of washing bowls and cups and of purifying water before drinking it. Now she shares what she has learned with others, and she shares the love of Jesus as the same time. No children have died in her village since they began putting these hygiene tips to practice!
  • The Gambella Anglican Centre exists because of seed money donated by North American Anglicans and given through the Anglican Relief and Development Fund.

The Background

  • In the two years before his last visit to Jerusalem, Paul encouraged the churches that he had planted to take up a collection to give aid to the church in Jerusalem.
  • The church in Jerusalem which was in a state of poverty and needed assistance. The collection was also likely intended as a goodwill offering to bring peace between the Jewish believers and the gentile believers.
  • In this letter, Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church to complete what they had promised to give by sharing the story of the generosity of the Macedonian church.
  • The Macedonian church includes churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea
    • For some reason, the churches in this region were very poor and afflicted, we don’t know why.
    • Paul desired to point out their eagerness to give despite the fact that they didn’t have very much. 2 Corinthians 8:2-4.
      • They gave beyond their means.
      • They counted it as a privilege to do so.
        • “Favor” in ESV and “Privilege” in NIV are both ways of translating the Greek word “Charin” which means “to show kindness, to manifest graciousness toward, kindness, graciousness, grace.”
        • This word is used five times in this passage. Here it means that they counted it as a grace to bestow a grace upon others.
        • v. 1 “The grace of God that has been given” generosity is a work that God does in us.
  • v. 12 “ For If the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has.”
    • Too often we can feel like whatever we are able to give is insignificant compared to the need.
    • To God, the amount of a gift is not nearly as important as the act of generosity. Both Paul and Jesus instruct that we should give generously in proportion to what we have.
    • Luke 21:1-4 – The two copper coins of the poor widow.
  • Why is giving so important to God?
    • It breaks the selfishness that we are all prone to.
    • God is a giving God, and he desires for us to become more like him.
      • Kruse says, “God is generous…and where his grace is truly experienced in people’s lives the evidence will be a similar love and generosity.”

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

  • Luke 22:25-27 “I am among you as one who serves.”
    • The word “relief” is “diakonias” from which we get the word “Deacon” or servant.
    • “The concrete sense is basic: a. “to wait at table,” b. “to care for,” and c. (comprehensively) “to serve.” For the Greeks service is undignified; we are born to rule, not to serve…In Judaism, service is not thought to be unworthy; hence a deeper understanding of it develops…By exalting service and relating it to love of God, Jesus both sets forth a completely different view from that of the Greeks and purifies the Jewish concept.”
  • The ultimate service, the ultimate grace which Jesus gives to us is his earthly life and in his death on the cross for our sins. v. 9 “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
    • Jesus had a very rich life in the heavenly places. He wanted for nothing, and he was in perfect community with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus willingly left all of that and endured poverty and intense pain and suffering so that we could become royalty, children of God.
  • Paul’s point is that we shouldn’t just receive this grace from Jesus and sit on it. Instead, we should follow the pattern that he established and give to those around us.
  • There are many ways to give and serve, there is money, but there is also the gift of your time, your vehicle, your home, your talents, and I am not just talking about the context of this church (though I certainly appreciate the support that each of you give).
  • When we give, we get to participate in the work that God is doing in the world, putting into practice the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Truly this is a privilege!

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