2Cor. 8.24 Extravagance and Commitment JUMC 20111113

2 Corinthians 8 (New Revised Standard)

1 We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2 for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4 begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5 and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6 so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you —so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” 16 But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same eagerness for you that I myself have. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but since he is more eager than ever, he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; 19 and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. 20 We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, 21 for we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found eager in many matters, but who is now more eager than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker in your service; as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

In Review of Stewardship and our covenant and vow to commit our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness of Jesus Christ we come to this very Sunday.

FOUNDATION OF GENEROUS GIVING #1

We give because we made in the image of God, whose essential nature is giving.

  • We are hard wired to be social, compassionate, connected, loving and generous.
  • Yes we get scared, scared and callous.
  • GOOD NEWS: God sends us Jesus Christ to bring us back to our true and whole selves and back into relationship with God.

 FOUNDATION OF GENEROUS GIVING #2

The heart of giving is never about what we get.

This is counter-intuitive to what society and commerce teaches about value. We come together today in worship of God and in the fellowship of friends in Christ to celebrate giving.

Think about the times you have been GENEROUS

  • There are times every parent has given up your meal so that someone else could eat.
  • Recall how you have given up some treasure you owned or deserved so that someone else could have their treasure.
  • Step back into the moments when you and I have given time, money, sacrifice not because it is our work or prize, but because we have taken the high road Jesus Christ and served someone else.
  • How many people will give up restful family time to work hard feeding neighbors this next week to provide a meal of thanksgiving?
  • How many of you have spent time with a child or family that everyone else had given up on helping because you knew love and persistent faith would make the difference for generations to come.
  • How many people will leave the comfort of this great land of plenty to go, first hand to feed, cloth, and shelter the poor and hopeless of Honduras, Kenya, Portugal, and other countries than our own.
  • How many people have put themselves in harms way for the high calling of truth, hope and freedom and honorable given their own feet on the ground and their own sweat and tears in the face of an enemy.

We give praise to God that we may know and remember times of giving like these:

TURN TO YOUR NEIGHBOR and thank them for the times they have stepped out on faith to give of themselves so that someone else may have life and love. THANK YOU.

FOUNDATION OF GENEROUS GIVING #3

Generosity is ALWAYS about someone else and never about ourselves.

Name one person you admire and respect because of all they keep for themselves. We don’t admire greed.

Largeness of spirit leads to an eagerness to give our utmost and highest.

Robert Schnase writes in his book the 5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations about the image of a birds nest:

The notion of building nests is often used as a metaphor to describe people successfully providing for their own comforts.., “You’ve built yourself quite a nest for yourself here!” . . . The word nest often connotes shelter, coziness, homelike, comfortable. In actual fact, the nests which birds build are not for the birds who build them, but for their young, for the next generation, for the future of the species. The hours of carrying straw, sticks, and mud; the days of defensive watchfulness; and the weeks of endless feeding are all for the benefit of the new ones, the young, the future.

Now consider “nests” we build in our churches. The buildings, programs, ministries, job descriptions, and services we build—are they for our own comfort and coziness? Or are they to further the faith and provide for future generations? Does our giving serve us and our needs or serve God by serving the mission of the church to reach new people? Vibrant, fruitful congregations focus as much energy, prayer, and planning on those who are outside the congregation as they do on those who are already active in the congregation. (pp. 14–15)

Every sanctuary and chapel in which we have worshiped, every church organ that has lifted our spirits, every pew where we have sat, every Communion rail where we have knelt, every hymnal from which we have sung, every praise band that has touched our hearts, every church classroom where we have gathered with our friends, every church kitchen that has prepared our meals, every church van that has taken us to camp, every church camp cabin where we have slept—all are the fruit of someone’s Extravagant Generosity.

We have been the recipients of grace upon grace. We are the heirs, the beneficiaries of those who came before us who were touched by the generosity of Christ enough to give graciously so that we could experience the truth of Christ for ourselves. We owe the same to generations to come. We have worshiped in sanctuaries that we did not build, so to us falls the privilege of building sanctuaries where we shall never worship. (pp. 41–42)

FOUNDATION OF GENEROUS GIVING #4

Generosity DEMANDS a change within our heart.

Generosity derives from a profound reorientation in our thinking about how we find contentment in life.

Paul writes, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have,” but Paul was not a slacker, lacking in initiative! He was industrious, competitive, and ambitious for the work of God. Paul realized how seductive our activity and our appetite for more could become. We begin to believe that happiness depends upon outward circumstance and material comforts rather than deriving from inner spiritual qualities—love, peace, compassion, self-control, gentleness, prayerfulness. Possessing greater wealth does not mean that we experience contentedness. We can still feel panic, emptiness, striving, and isolation. We feel needy, and our appetites become insatiable. Surrounded by water, we are dying of thirst.

Breaking the cycle of conditioned discontent requires courageous soul work. Abundant living derives from generative relationships, from mutual support, and from knowing how to love and be loved. Contentment arises from seeking that which satisfies. (pp. 58–59)

Over the last few weeks we have considered what we love and value in our church, who has made a difference in our spiritual lives, and our best hopes and dreams for the next year.

Today we go to 2 Corinthians 8:24 . 24 Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

Our pledge cards, commitment cards are not about dollar figures, that will be the work you and your family share each week and month and the on-going work of our finance committee to manage, inform and challenge us.

The commitment card is a public witness to each other in the church that Christ comes first: SAY THESE ALOUD WITH ME

  1. We give because we made in the image of God, whose essential nature is giving.
  2. The heart of giving is never about what we get.
  3. Generosity is ALWAYS about someone else and never about ourselves.
  4. Generosity DEMANDS a change within our heart.

 

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