The Stewardship of Giving

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 7/4/2021

“Happy 4th of July!” Freedom goes to the core of who we are as a people, and nation. But Freedom also goes to the core of who we are as Christians as well. We are a freedom-loving, freedom-respecting, freedom-promoting faith. There is a boundary between my will and your will, between God’s will and our will. What is our preaching but an appeal, from one to another, to use our freedom well, to use it for God’s glory, to honor Christ, to love one another.

For those of you who may be joining us the first time… since the beginning of Spring, we’ve been studying Paul’s Second Letter to the Church at Corinth. We’ve been unpacking Paul’s letter verse by verse. Currently were in 2 Corinthians 8.

Last Sunday we talked about this peculiar group of believers—the Macedonian Christians. In 2 Corinthians 8:1 Paul says, “I want you to know about the grace of God that was given to the churches.”

There are two types of grace in Scripture. There is the big “G” grace that captures the magnitude of what God has given us. Paul mentions this a few verses later in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

This verse echoes Philippians 2:6-8 where Paul extols the grace of Jesus, “[Christ Jesus…] who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.” What does it mean to us that God would impoverish himself, that he would die for us? This is capital “G” grace.

But the other kind of grace, the lower case “g” grace, is what we make of Christ Jesus. This is what Paul is alluding to in 2 Corinthians 8:1. He says, “You’re not going to believe this. . . I’ve got to tell you all about the grace that’s been given these Macedonians. . . its crazy. . .”

2 Corinthians 8:2-5, “During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.”

They had every excuse not to give. They were under a severe trial. They were enduring severe affliction. Yet they gave with abundant joy. Their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. Their generosity spilled over the edges, it was contagious and uncontainable. They gave according to their ability, but then supernaturally beyond their ability. They did it “of their own accord.” They begged for the opportunity. They were earnest. There were sincere. They saw giving for the privilege that it is. They exceeded all expectations. They understood that grace isn’t just something God gives us. Grace is something God gives through us. We are his instrument, his church, his body, his people!

The question for us is, are we willing to be instruments of God’s grace? 2 Corinthians 8:7-9, “Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

When it comes to grace, nobody is holding a gun to your head. Nobody is condemning, bullying, shaming, guilting, manipulating you. This is why I said, freedom also goes to the core of who we are as Christians as well. We are a freedom-loving, freedom-respecting, freedom-promoting faith. There is a boundary between my will and your will, between God’s will and our will. Paul is making his appeal, one man to another, let’s use our freedom well, let’s use it for God’s glory, to honor Christ, to love one another, to build the church.

In 2 Corinthians 8:12 he says, “For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” God isn’t asking us to give out of some deficit. God is asking us to give out of the abundance of His own grace that he has showered upon us.

Various leadership authors are fond of talking about a “scarcity” vs. an “abundance” mindset. A scarcity mindset says “God hasn’t give me enough. There are only so many pieces of the pie left, and other people have more pieces that me. A scarcity mindset says God has only given me one talent, I better hold on to it, and bury it in the ground. If you want my one talent you’ll have to pry it out of my dead fingers.” But an “abundance” mindset says “God has given me every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. I’m well supplied. God gives seed to the sower. I don’t care if I don’t have the last piece of the pie, I know the pie maker! How can I leverage my talents, share my talents, give them, invest then, do great things for God’s glory?”

A funny thing happens when we give. We never end up in scarcity, we never end up in the red, we never end up with a deficit. 2 Corinthians 8:15, “As it is written: The person who had much did not have too much, and the person who had little did not have too little.”

Now an interesting feature in 2 Corinthians 8 is Paul’s concern with integrity. I suppose Paul could have said, “Hey Corinthians, take up this money, and just trust us. Just trust whatever happens behind the mysterious black curtain of the church’s ministry. Just trust whoever we send to collect the money—don’t worry about it.”

In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul goes to great lengths to explain exact who, what, when, where, and how the money is going to be administered. There is total transparency and accountability. It's SO REFRESHING! 2 Corinthians 8:16-23, “Thanks be to God, who put the same concern for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he welcomed our appeal and, being very diligent, went out to you by his own choice. 18 We have sent with him the brother who is praised among all the churches for his gospel ministry. 19 And not only that, but he was also appointed by the churches to accompany us with this gracious gift that we are administering for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We are taking this precaution so that no one will criticize us about this large sum that we are administering. 21 Indeed, we are giving careful thought to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before people. 22 We have also sent with them our brother. We have often tested him in many circumstances and found him to be diligent—and now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and coworker for you; as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.”

It’s the duty of Church Leaders to administrate money wisely, with accountability, and total transparency. The standard is not just what is right “before the Lord” but also right “before people.” If there is good news, or if there is bad news financially, the Church can handle that news, and deserve to know it. Every effort should be made to bring integrity to the church’s finances.

It’s the privilege, the grace, of every member of Christ’s body to excel in the grace of giving. Giving is not to be coerced. Even if it could be, it wouldn’t be acceptable before God. Giving is a test of our genuineness, a test of the sincerity of our love for God and one another and his Kingdom. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

Scripture Verses

2 Corinthians 8; Philippians 2:6-8

Worship Playlist

Grateful by Elevation Worship

Holy Spirit by Jesus Culture

Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery by Shane & Shane

Because He Lives

Study Questions

  1. Paul is organizing churches to help the church in Jerusalem in their time of need. How does this gift relate to God's glory (8:21)?
  2. How do you personally apply godly wisdom in your managment of money? How does this bring glory to God?

Apply It!

Resources