Keller says: “A mark of a real Christian is generosity like [the radical generosity of] God.” We are to imitate Him and become more like Him as we grow in His grace so…
How generous is God to us:
- He gave us life
- He gave us creation
- He gave us redemption
- He gave us His Son
- He gave us His Holy Spirit
- He gives us grace
- He gives us His righteousness
- He gives us His Word
- He gives us hope
- He gives us a future
- He gives us eternity
- He gives us a relationship
- He gives us His ear
- He gives us His love
- He gives us His protection
- He gives us His healing
- He gives us ALL we have
- He gives us our food
- He gives us the next breath
- He gives us gifts
- He gives us a model
- He gives us joy
- He gives us endurance
- He gives us ALL we need
Read 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15
II Corinthians: A famine was occurring in
- Reality of Generosity - What radical generosity can do!
- Reason of Generosity - Why should we give?
- Requirements of Generosity - How much should I give?
1. Reality of Generosity: Vertical and Horizontal
Read below a letter (Epistle) written about the early church and how she was so different than the “world”. The italic and bold sections are my notes.
WHAT THE EARLY WRITERS SAID ABOUT THE CHURCH ~ Circa 160 AD
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was Roman Emperor from 161 to his death in 180. More likely is 'the most excellent Diognetus', Claudius Diogenes, who was procurator of
The Epistle to Diognetus
CHAPTER V -- THE MANNERS OF THE CHRISTIANS
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity [They Embraced, Equipped & Engaged the people and culture]. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct [engaging the people], they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers [They were Missional]. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring [They were pro-life]. They have a common table, but not a common bed [They fed and ate with “the world” but did not think like the world]. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich [They gave their money and selves away]; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honor; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.
The world can see we’re different by how we treat others; inside and outside the church.
v12a: “For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints,” [horizontal within the church]. How?
- new churches
- ministry funding
v13b: “…and the generosity of your contributions for them and for all others.” Who? - For those outside the church so we fund: See list above!!! Same list!
The second reality of generosity is God glorified and worshiped [vertical].
v12b: “…but is also overflowing in thanksgivings to God” and v13a: “By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ…”
2. Reason for Generosity: The Gospel and Grace
God gives all, supplies all and we bring nothing to the table as “He has distributed freely, He has give to the poor [us]; His righteousness endures forever.”
He has given us all and asks for just a small part in return. Imagine giving your child a whole 2 liter of Pepsi and asking for a sip and he tells you “no”.
v13…”they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ…”
v7 “Each must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Paul isn’t commanding us to give he is saying that if we get the gospel we will give in abundance.
Keller puts it this way:
“A [grace driven] Christian says, ‘everything I have I owe God because of your grace’. A moralist [works driven] says, ‘God owes me because I’ve worked hard.”
3. Requirements of Generosity - How much?
Driscoll puts it this way: “Therefore, the total “mandatory” OT tithe resulted in over 25% of a family’s gross income going to God and ministry. In the New Testament financial giving among God’s people focuses on grace, generosity, and the heart. The word “tithe” is rarely used in the New Testament, and when it is it is usual mentioned negatively in conjunction with the Pharisees who had sinful hearts when they gave. Perhaps the most thorough teaching in all the New Testament on giving is found in 2 Corinthians 8-9 where we discover the following principles regarding giving:
- Giving is a joy and an honor.
- Giving is a heart issue, there is no standard.
- Giving should come from your first fruits.
- Giving should be done regularly, cheerfully and sacrificially.
- Giving is tied to your proportion of faith
- The amount is between you and God.
- Giving is a spiritual gift - (Romans 12) some have a greater measure of this gift, coupled with faith.
Therefore, God’s people are today not required to tithe. But, as like everything else in the New Covenant our grace giving is to exceed Old Testament requirements of the law. Therefore, 10% should be for God’s people a floor and not a ceiling and a place to begin but not a place to end. Lastly, since God is ultimately the owner of all of our wealth the question is never how much should I give to God, but rather how much of God’s money should I keep?”
Paul puts it this way: “and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
At the end of the day, when we “survey the wondrous cross” the question is: “How can we not give until it hurts…”