Matthew R. Perry

Give Graciously (Part I: A Biblical Attitude Toward Giving)

In church, church attendees, Church Life, church membership, Finances, Giving, Sermons on May 20, 2008 at 9:10 am

(This sermon was preached on Sunday, May 18, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click here. To read the Introduction to this blog series, click here.)

In 2 Cor. 8:1-7, we read:

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, [2] 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. [3] For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, [4] begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— [5] and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. [6] Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. [7] But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you— see that you excel in this act of grace also.

Paul rejoiced in the grace of God demonstrated among the churches at Macedonia, the province in which Corinth was located. How was it demonstrated? By circumstances? The Word says they were in a “severe test of affliction.” The affliction was a famine that had left the area in a hard grip. The economy was absolutely atrocious and affected everyone, even the Christians. But how did they react? External circumstances showed itself in “extreme poverty.” But what was going on internally? “An abundance of joy.” Why? Because of the grace of God.

Look with me at verse 4: “They gave themselves to the Lord first.” Now, let’s put all this together. Externally, a bad economy which led to a severe test of affliction resulting in extreme poverty. Internally, God’s grace took hold leading to an abundance of joy. They gave out of an overflow in a wealth of generosity! They gave. No one twisted their arm. God gave to them graciously, so they gave graciously out of their joy. In fact, notice that Paul calls this giving an “act of grace.”

What is the Spirit telling us? The Spirit informs us of the motive in which we are to give. We do not give primarily to keep up budgets. We do not give so our numbers are not embarrassing. We give because God has given so much to us. And the motive behind the gift we gift matches our view of the gloriousness of Christ’s act of grace toward us. We give based on the joy in our hearts.

We give not just with Christ in mind, but also his church — His body! Are we invested in God’s church as well? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:23-24: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” We will not give graciously if we fail to extend grace toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are failing to give, we need to dig deep into our hearts to see if some unresolved relationship is blocking our fellowship with God and his church.

Consider the following:

1. Have we truly understood what that “act of grace” to which Paul refers really reflects? The gift we give and the motive behind it usually matches our view of the gloriousness of Christ’s act of grace toward us.

2. Is this “act of grace” also seen as an act of worship? Given all we have read in Matthew 5:23-24, we also see that the gifts we give will be received in direct proportion to the way we take care of our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Keep short accounts!

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