Matthew R. Perry

Being Good Stewards of Your Finances, Part I: Be Sympathetic in Your Giving

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2007 at 12:32 pm

(You can listen to this sermon in its entirety by clicking here. This sermon was preached on Sunday, August 12, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

Notice 2 Corinthians 8:1-2: “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” When we see at the beginning where Paul uses the phrase “the grace of God,” we would expect Paul speak about the spiritual grace imparted to the believer. We know about this grace from Ephesians 2:8-9 in which Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Or in Romans 3:23-24 which says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul here uses a general use of the term in this context to show the kindness and sympathy extended by the churches in the area of Macedonia. As you see, Macedonia was under severe persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. When many of us experience persecution, we tend to either withdraw from service to lessen the persecution or become introverted and only think about maintaining our own status. Yet verse two notes, “their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2, ESV).

Notice something — they had two conditions: their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed into what? “A wealth of generosity on their part.” This passage goes against those who believe that ones who are truly faithful are ones who have no economic problems at all. When a young man came by to do some work on our house, he asked me what I did for a living. When I told him I was a pastor, I asked him if he had any spiritual beliefs at all. He said he was a believer, but he was struggling with his faith. When I asked how so, he immediately responded, “Well, I’m struggling financially and if I had more faith, I wouldn’t be struggling.” I tried to tell him that God puts us in all situations but that he would always provide himself through Christ, but did you see how they equated faith? Yet Paul said, “See the example of the Macedonians.”

When they saw the issues of the Jerusalem church and how much they were suffering, we did not see them look at their budget to see if they could help. They didn’t look at gas prices or the state of the economy to see if they could give. Many times, the only sympathy we have when it comes to money is for ourselves in not having what we would deem enough or not being able to afford what we want. Then we tend to pout.

But that is polar opposite of what is happening here. Verses four and five show their priorities. The Word says they were “begging [Paul] earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” and that “they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”

How important it is for the Christian to surrender their all to the Lord rather than surrendering to the mandates of his bank balance.

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