Jesus & {Your} His Money: Part 8 Money & the Grace of Giving

October 13, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is the eighth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

We have moved on from what Jesus teaches about money and wealth to the apostle Paul…sort of. Last week we looked at Paul’s teaching on the “love of money” in 1 Timothy 6. Paul reinforces what Jesus taught in the Gospels: 1. Money easily becomes a treasure of the heart (“love of money”); 2. Money as treasure is poisonous to one’s relationship with God (“root of evil”); 3. The antidote is treasuring God above money and all things (“hope in God”); 4. Giving away money is not only an indicator of a new heart treasure, but also is a means to wean the heart from loving money; 5. Thus, reward for being generous is promised.

In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul expands this teaching on giving even further. For Paul, giving is not optional or even second-tier Christian living, but essential to the Christian faith. Let’s start by considering how Paul brooches the subject in 2 Corinthians 8.

Paul, currently on his third missionary journey in the regions of Greece, was preparing to travel to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was suffering under a great famine. Paul was receiving offerings from the churches in Greece to help meet the needs of the Christians in Judea. In 2 Corinthians 8-9 he reminds the church at Corinth about this offering collection and wants to encourage their generosity. He starts by highlighting the generosity of the churches in Macedonia (the Philippians!). Take note, though, of how Paul speaks about this generosity: he uses the word “grace” four times in the opening paragraph (8:1-7).

“We want you to know about the grace of God given among the churches of Macedonia…” (v. 1)

“[They were] begging us earnestly for the grace* of taking part in the relief of the saints…” (v. 4, *the ESV translates the word here as “favor,” but it is the same Greek word for grace)

“We urged Titus to…complete among you this act of grace.” (v. 6)

“See that you excel in this act of grace also.” (v. 7)

What is Paul teaching us here?

1. Generosity, or eagerness to give, is evidence and the result of God’s gracious work. The churches of Macedonia were not wealthy; in fact, Paul says they were in “extreme poverty” (v. 2). The Macedonians were not uniquely gifted for generosity; Paul says their generosity was not expected (v. 5). And they were not being cool and calculating in their giving; they gave beyond their means and were “begging” to give (v. 3 & 4). How do you explain such generosity? Only as Paul does… the grace of God that has been given among them. Only God can inspire and empower generosity like this. A new heart and new treasure results in a new attitude and new actions.

2. Generosity ought to grow in one who is growing in God’s grace. Perhaps I should be more direct: Generosity will grow in one who is growing in God’s grace. Paul desires to see the same work of grace take place in the church of Corinth. In fact, he commands that they “excel in this act of grace.” Why? Paul has already explained in this letter that whoever is in Christ, “they are a new creation” (5:17), and as a new creation they “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (3:18). Growing in grace is being transformed into Christlikeness. This is what God does for those who are “in Christ.” And Paul says in 8:9 that Jesus was marked by generosity: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor…” Jesus gave himself generously. If you are in Christ, you will reflect him in your generosity.

Does your generosity reflect Christ? Perhaps a lack of generosity in your life reveals a lack of dependence on Christ’s generosity. As long as you believe that you have earned anything you enjoy, you will withhold generosity and feel entitled to keep what you have. Paul wants you to grow in the grace of generosity because everything you enjoy has been graciously given you in Christ.


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