Series on II Corinthians, II The Directions of Paul for Giving. C The Measure, Text: II Cor. 9, Title: Ungrudging Generosity.

Introduction

Paul has exhorted the Corinthians to give because the Macedonians set the example of giving out of poverty. A greater example he said was the Lord Jesus who, though he was rich, became poor for our sakes that we through his poverty might become rich. He has also sent three reliable messengers to assist in the collections and to have the gift ready when Paul arrives. This is what Paul is recounting in verses 1-5, There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.  For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.  For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. And, the Apostle adds an important thought here. If the gift is not generous it will be grudgingly given. The Macedonian Christians gave out of poverty. Surely the Corinthian Christians can give generously. Otherwise it would be like not giving at all. So generosity becomes the theme of Paul's appeal here. We see the passion of generosity, the provision of generosity and the praise of generosity.

I The Passion of Generosity

Look at verse 7, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.This is the passion of generosity. The word translated reluctant or grudging is literally out of sorrow. A fool and his money are soon parted, but even worse is giving grudgingly.  Does it make you sad to give or happy to give? Each one is to make his own decision. No quota scheme, no means test, just give hilariously - that is the root of the word cheerful. We get our word hilarious from it. Remember Ananias and Saphirra in Acts 5 who pretended to give all and held some back?  In Romans 12:8 the Apostle tells us to show mercy cheerfully.  Proverbs 22:9 says a generous man will himself be blessed for he shares his food with the poor. And the word for generous is this same Greek word, cheerful. We do not give to earn merit nor do we give because we are forced. True generosity is a passion for giving. Paul reminds them in v.6 that such generosity is rewarded. We will consider that next, but first let us ask how we give. And let us learn to give hilariously. By the way you can't learn to give that way unless you break out of the stingy mold. First it hurts - then it feels good.

II The Provision of Generosity

Some think, ”All this talk about hilarious giving is fine, but when you're struggling to make ends meet it's tough to be happy about giving!" The admonition to give generously is framed by two verses 6 and 8 that insist that you cannot out-give God. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. You will not get everything you ever wanted. You will be happy because God is able to make his grace abound to you so that you will have everything you need to abound in every good work. This requires some attention! We are deluged with people who are telling us in pulpits and on TV that we are going to prosper if we give. It’s called the prosperity gospel. Paul quotes Psalm 112:9 which describes the man who is happy because he is upright. He scatters his gifts to the poor. This acrostic Psalm, that is, the lines begin with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, was to be memorized to remind people to be generous. Paul explains the meaning of the Psalm in verses 9-11,  As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. I want us to understand that God is not a Merrill Lynch investment account, he is not an IRA, or a Pension Fund. The problem with the false gospel of prosperity is that it decides how God is going to bless us. This is His decision. Many years ago in the summer Olympics an Englishman won an unexpected victory in the 100 meter dash after he had declined to run in the event in which he was favored because it was held on the Sabbath. The Movie Chariots of Fire told the story.  God says those who honor me will I honor. Would God have given him that gold medal if he couldn’t handle it? Would God have given him the victory if it would prevent him from going to China as a missionary and dying for his faith? Of course not. God decides how to bless us according to our personal need. The Macedonian Christians did not become wealthy because they gave out of their poverty. Some of the poorest people in the world give the most. They remain poor but they are blessed.

III The Praise of Generosity

As Paul says in verses 12-15, the result is thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! When you supply the needs of others, they thank God. They thank God for what He has given them. And they thank God for you and the grace that God has given you. They don't praise the Lord just for your generosity, and for your obedience. This shining example lifts them up and encourages them in the Way because it’s inspiring. Many people give lip service to Christ, but its really refreshing and encouraging when people back up their profession. In fact nothing encourages others to persevere in the Lord so much as our generosity towards them. And they will be deeply moved to pray for you and in their prayers they will glorify God for the grace He has given you and pray for more. So they'll end up praying for the provision God has promised to those who obey Him. If you can see how all of this hangs together, you can begin to see why Paul is beside himself. He's carried away with ecstasy because he realizes that all of this prayer, all of this rejoicing, all of this obedience, generosity, and love is the result of one thing. Jesus Christ! So he ends Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift. Nobody can adequately describe the mercy of God in Christ. He became poor for our sakes, and he did it while we were his enemies. And he made us rich forever. He gave us a place in heaven. You may not own much real estate on earth but if you're an ungrudging giver you own a lot in the world to come. Generosity is another word for GRACE. Giving is another word for Jesus.