2nd Corinthians 8:8-24

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I’m going to invite you this morning to second Corinthians Chapter eight. We’re going to look at second Corinthians Chapter eight. We’re actually going to pick up in verse eight and go through the rest of this chapter. Today, we’re in this book of Second Corinthians together. And by the way, if you’re interested in just a booklet on on the book of Second Corinthians, you can grab these on your way out. This is what I’ve been working through. Just they’re free to you that you can have. Just as we work through the rest of this book. And after today, we’ll have four chapters left, but we have a handful of these still remaining. So if you’d like one, please grab one as you head out the doors today. Second Corinthians Chapter eight as A is sort of a response chapter to everything that Paul has said to us in light of who we are in Christ. And this is a this is a very encouraging chapter and also a very hard chapter. And I love that Paul’s willing to move forward into some things that are difficult, because here’s how we tend to operate as people. When things get hard, we start to get hopeless. And but the reality is, when we look at difficult circumstances and we start to battle with that hopelessness, God is still the same God. And the beauty of of the struggle of life is that grace was made for adversity.

It’s a beautiful opportunity for, in the midst of hardship, to continue to step in the grace of God, because it’s in the the difficulty of life that the grace of God really brightens. And it’s in it’s opportunity. It’s against the darkness that God’s light really is made known. And when you read the book of Second Corinthians, one of the things that I love about this book is, is Paul’s writing to a church that has been very challenging to him. And if you thought about relationships, you know, you think about difficult relationships in your life and you just want to chuck it aside and just say, forget it. I mean, for Paul, that was second Corinthians. And yet when you read the book of Second Corinthians, here you see the apostle Paul talk about his brothers and sisters in Christ and his encouragement to them and referring to them as saints in the Lord. And and Paul never gets gives up on them. Paul continues to minister to them and love on them. And I think the reason that Paul does that is because his eyes aren’t so much on the circumstance as they are on the Lord. And He realizes that that Paul plus God in any situation is always the upper hand. God in anything doesn’t even God doesn’t have to be. Plus you just got in any situation is always, always got the upper hand. And so Paul recognizes that even in the midst of this mess, no matter how how difficult things may be and no matter how much this church has accused him and attacked him because Paul’s eyes are on the Lord, Paul realizes God can can continue to do a good thing.

Paul is saying that not only has got done something in Corinth. But God wants to continue to do great things through Corinth if the church would seize that opportunity. And so we spent a large portion of this book up to this point talking about all of the goodness of what we have in Jesus and now saying to the church, Now, if your heart realizes this, if your heart begins to recognize this proven. Let’s let’s move forward in all the opportunity that God can do in our lives with the potential of what we could be in Jesus, with our with our lives before him. And in fact, if you if you see the second Corinthians, chapter eight and verse 24, you kind of see Paul giving the similar statements. And we’re going to cover everything in the image when he’s saying this. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. He’s saying, the church, up to this point, he, he and the church had this great conflict in their relationship. And Paul knew not only for their relationship was this was this not helpful, but also in light of the church occurrence relationship to God, because Paul is an apostle and to reject the apostle Paul is to walk away from the Lord.

And so Paul wants to fight for this church so that a relationship in Christ can flourish. And this church has responded and verbally said, okay, Paul, you’re right. We repent and we we want to come back into fellowship with you and we want to grow in the Lord together. And now Paul is saying, okay, talk is cheap. Talk is cheap, but we want you to to understand the opportunity and to to walk. In light of that, we want you, as he says in this, to prove your your love that it is genuine in verse 24. So give proof before the churches of your love and of your boasting about you to these men. And so this morning, that’s exactly what we want to talk about is. In the midst of adversity. Recognizing that the same God is still with us. And we have the opportunity to see great things happening now, not because we’re resting in our power, but we’re resting in his power. And this is that’s the profound thing of second Corinthians, is that Paul, when they’re attacking Paul, he he doesn’t say and he doesn’t match their their demeanor towards him and this back and forth, but rather he says, you know what, you’re right.

I’m weak. I’m weak. But God is strong. And Paul leans heavily into the grace of God, knowing that anything that happens for his kingdom isn’t going to happen in our strength anyway. But in his. And Paul leans into the Lord, trusting in God and in talking to this church of Corinth. And and as Paul continues to prove his love towards them, now, Paul is saying, okay, but now what are you made of? What does it look like in your Christian life? Not to just simply say you’re a follower of Jesus, but if you want to stand in the midst of the hard and make a difference, how do you prove that love? And this is where Paul starts, and he begins in verse nine, not looking to ourselves. But he looks again to the Lord because he has this reminder for us that anything we do of any significance will be by resting in the goodness of who got is. By his power and his identity. And so point number one, in your notes, if you’re proving your love, this is what we need. Sacrificial serving. Sacrificial serving. And he demonstrates this through through Christ and His grace, as it’s made known in our lives. And he says, verse nine, for, you know, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor, so that you, by his poverty, might become rich.

That word, poverty in this verse is a very telling word. It literally means a beggar. How much did Jesus give up in order to to offer his grace for your life? And he gave up everything. To the point that he had to to beg. He literally was totally dependent. And we see that in the will of the father. But but he lived his life just trusting that the father would provide as he came to this world. And then when you look at the specifics of Jesus life, what is so incredible about Christ is Jesus endured the greatest form, I think, of human torture that is that has ever existed. The crucifix was something that took centuries to perfect, and Rome certainly perfected it. But it was the worst way in all of history to die. I mean, you were you were crucified, one nailed to a cross. But you also endured suffocation and and dehydration. And Jesus willingly endured that. But not not only that, he was betrayed by his friends. His own people turn their back upon him. He was the victim of the Roman Empire, led by Pontius Pilate, who who made it known that he wasn’t even interested in what was what was the truth? Everyone knew that he was innocent. They chose to release a criminal instead, instead of releasing Jesus. And to top it all off, he knew that all of it was going to happen to him.

And he did it anyway. He was rich. It became poor. And now Paul is looking at the mission, which God calls us on, and he’s asking us to consider the example that Christ has set before us. Jesus’s grace made a difference in your life. It transforms you. When your life is surrendered to that. And and as we live in light of that example, that same kind of grace that comes out of us is something that works in the hearts of people as it’s as that Christ like behavior is mimicked in our lives, that God continues to use that to transform the heart of of others. But how? How in the world could you even begin to mimic that sort of sacrificial servant lifestyle? I think a couple of ways. One. You have to believe in a big God. And you have to believe that God is with you. And that God is for you. Growing in an understanding of this God and just how incredibly vast he is. I mean, we see this in Christ himself not only becoming the form of a servant, but also triumphing over the grave and his resurrection, sin, Satan and death cannot defeat him. Even to the point that after his resurrection, he looks at his church and he says, Now go into all the world and make disciples. And Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth or to the end of the age.

And he gives this declaration in chapter 28, verse 18, and Matthew, that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. And some of that declaration of his power that he then calls his people on the blessing of his promise to represent him in this world. It’s by believing a big God who is with you and who is for you. But even reading verses like this, I think it’s important to ask that that big question why? Why in the world would Christ want to do this? Or why in the world would Christ do this? If you have what you need, why be inconvenience? You think about Jesus’s position in life? If life is all about being comfortable and having things? There’s no one who had better comfort and more possessions than Christ Himself as he ruled and reigned from heaven. So why in the world would he do this if life is just about comfort and convenience? Why? Why would you put yourself in this position of sacrifice for the sake of others? One. It’s a mark of a good leader. A good leader is one who will sacrifice what they have for the benefit of others so that they may succeed. But Jesus is teaching us, I think, something more important and he’s doing a work for us that is by far more important. He’s demonstrating us there’s something of more value in life than simply comfort and possessions.

And that is relationship. That is something we could not have in the Lord unless we were reconciled to Him because of our sin. And Jesus was willing to bring, bring to us to the opportunity of having a relationship with our Creator by paying for our sins. It’s the same thing that Paul is fighting for in Corinth, for the church. Either they’re severed in relationship and Paul knows how important that relationship is because it becomes a flow of of grace that they can experience the goodness and truth of who Christ is. And so he’s willing to fight for them. But they could be free in the Lord. Jesus is teaching us this. If you have everything this world has to offer, yet you do not have Christ. You are poor. Yet. If you have nothing that this earth has to offer yet, you have Jesus. You are rich. And he goes on and he says this. And in light of that, in verse ten and in this matter, I give my judgment the benefits this benefits you who a year ago started not only to do this work, but also to desire to do it. And Jesus is identifying, look, the point of all of this is is to understand, yes, we’re giving ourselves for the sake of others, but but to also understand that in that this is beneficial for you. This this is to your game to to mimic Jesus is a great blessing.

And we could go on from here and list several reasons as to why it becomes a benefit for us. And I don’t mean to give us an exhaustive list here, but but I could just say this just a few things as it relates to to us. It shows that when you’re willing to give your life for for the cause of Christ to the blessing of others, the way it benefits you, it shows nothing in this world. If you’re if you’re if your behavior is to live that lifestyle, if your desire is to know Christ in this way, it shows that nothing this world offers you has imprison your heart. But. But Christ alone. It shows you’re involved in a community for the sake of Christ. And in that relationship, it really comes back around to to bless you as you give your life for Jesus in that community, that that community then has opportunity to to return. And in loving you and caring for you and through that community, it makes a difference in this world. It demonstrates that your heart faithfully is about completing what Christ has called you to. That you are. You’re not a quitter. And through it all, your walk with Jesus grows. As you experientially live out the pattern of Christ in your own life, it helps you better relate to what Jesus has done on your behalf by giving His life for you.

I think for us as people, there is no greater sense of worship. Then when we in our love for God, take the opportunity to extend that love towards one another. One because Jesus has made people in his image. And so every image bearer of God as we love on them, we’re we’re showing our appreciation towards our creator, but also knowing that Jesus gave his life for them. And if Jesus was willing to do that for people, how how great it is for me to show my love and return back to Christ the way that I serve in this world and care for others. Sacrificial serving. Jesus says it like this and this in chapter nine of verse six of the same book, he who so sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who was bound to flee, will also reap bountiful lay demonstrating a heart of giving. Point number two in your notes, not only just sacrificial serving, by the way, I would say this if we looked at these four points, this point number one is really the overall statement to the rest of these points. The rest of these points almost become a sub point to to to this first point. But point number two in your notes is this faithful generosity. If the church is willing to and desiring to prove its love in the midst of adversity, not losing or walking in hopelessness, but walking in hope because they know that God is with them.

One sacrificial serving to faithful generosity. Verse number 11, verse 11 says this. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness and desiring it may be matched by your completing out of what you have. And Paul is saying, look, church, you started to do this in the beginning. You saw a need. You responded to that need. You were very faithful in your generosity, but for some reason, you stopped. And God has called you to be a people of generosity. I said this last week. Generosity, by the way, doesn’t just have to do with financial giving. When it says in verse number nine that that that Jesus became poor to the point that he was a beggar. It’s not it’s not just it’s not talking about just worldly wealth or financial wealth. What it’s saying is in every capacity. Jesus became the servant of servants. And he’s saying to the church here in this passage that that if you understand what Christ has really done for you, generosity is not something that you just you just do and feel good about it, patting yourself on the back. It’s not something all of a sudden you see a need. You decide to be generous and you walk away and say, See, I’m a generous person. I once gave to a need. Generosity is a way in which we live our life.

It is a lifestyle of God’s people that we we walk in this world with the consistency of saying, where is God calling me to lay down my life for the benefit of others to the glory of God? And Paul is looking at the church and saying, look, I saw that spirit may making himself known in your life, but then something happened in your world that caused you to pull back from that. But this is not who we are as believers in Christ, because when we when we are enriched and the grace of God and we understand exactly what God has delivered from us, we drip with the generosity of Jesus in this world. Because we know more than anyone we did nothing to deserve it. How could we be anything less than generous? Because of what Christ has done. The demonstration of your heart that you really understand the gospel. Is that your life would bleed with generosity. As you live as a servant of Christ. And there’s there’s several reasons we could list why we we fail to to to carry that spirit forth in this world. One. One could be simply sinfulness. We can get away from God because of sinfulness in our heart, whether it’s guilt or shame that we don’t feel connected to God anymore, whatever it is, we’re we’re driven away from just living in that that life lifestyle of generosity or or to it can be good things.

Doesn’t have to be bad things. It can be good things. We just get distracted with the good things of life and we forget the great things that God calls us to. Or maybe like in this chapter, it could be a lack of trust. You see in this church, they’ve come to to battle with the Apostle Paul. And Paul’s calling the church into into some great things. But they just they don’t trust Paul. And Paul’s working on building that trust again so they can move together as a body of Christ. But whatever it is, the spirit of generosity and proving our love becomes essential for the body of believers. In verse, verse 12, he goes on and says this for if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. And this is great. This is God saying being faithful is not taking the weight of the world on your shoulders. God is not asking you to be the hero. God is just asking you to participate in the story. Cousin. I ask you to be something he didn’t create you to be. God is asking you to take of what He has given you and use it for His glory. I find a lot of times as people we become discontent when we feel like we’ve got to perform in order to be acceptable or we’ve got to live our lives to look exactly like someone else.

God doesn’t call you to be someone else. God calls you to be who He created you to be. To live in light of Christ and understand the way that he has gifted you in order to to bless others and and to utilize that he he made you unique in those gift sets in order to serve in this world for his kingdom and glory. And I know sometimes when we look at the world around us, it becomes overwhelming and all of it needs. Reminded of this. Just when you leave this place today. Make an attempt to do, for one, what you wish you could do for everyone. Just find a spot. You can make a difference. And let the grace of God be made known in your life. Sacrificial, serving, faithful generosity you see continues on. Then in verse, verse 13, for I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that is a matter of fairness. Your abundance at at the present time should supply their needs so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness as it is written. Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. He goes on verse 15 and says that. What Paul is saying is, look, and I don’t think I’ve told you that to this point, but but but what Paul is asking the church to do is actually give to another church.

He wants them to give to the church in Jerusalem. And the reason for that is the church in Jerusalem has been devastated. There was a famine. Rome has placed significant pressure on Jerusalem. So the people are impoverished for for that reason. And then on top of that, the Christian church has faced mass persecution. And so he sees them just getting ripped apart. And and Paul saying, look, you as a church that has think about your brothers and sisters in Christ that have need. And Paul’s Paul’s saying, look, in these verses I’m not trying to take from you in order to make you poor so that they’re rich. That’s not the point at all. But he’s saying but there’s something that you have in abundance that can help with the equality of the need and the circumstance. And when Paul talks about equality, he’s not he’s not carrying this idea of an economic Marxist, socialistic, communistic society. That’s not what is on Paul’s mind here. Just seeing a need. And he’s saying to us and we have a place to respond. We recognize where God is gifted and blessed us and its order for us to take a stand to help others. And I thought about this for for a little bit and how to respond in light of the Spurs, because I kept coming at it with this attitude of every time what I what I said to myself that I thought about saying out loud, I thought, man, I think you sound like a cranky old man when you say this.

So so I want to say something, but. But attempt to pepper this with grace. But I. But I hope you hear me in the right spirit. If I could just if I could just change maybe one thing in our culture that we tend as as God’s people sometimes embrace, because I think it prevents us from moving forward. If I could just say a prayer and everything, just change or wave a magic wand, I don’t know whatever and just change would change for us is the spirit of entitlement I find God’s people often carry around and I don’t mean what you have in Jesus and that identity, but but sometimes this idea of an entitlement, what we feel like is owed to us, because oftentimes I find that that spirit of entitlement becomes a distraction from just opening our eyes from the potential of what God has for us in hard things. And what I mean is sometimes we can carry this sense of entitlement so much that all we do as people is we become a sense of complainers or carry this attitude of complaining because we don’t get what we want. We feel like we deserve it and we’re not going to do what we should do until we get what we want.

Because while our situation is not what we desired and so therefore we carry this nasty attitude about it, wanting things to be different before we move forward. And Paul is saying everything opposite of that in this passages of Scripture. Sometimes we look at the imperfections of life and we get we get so distracted by the imperfections that our lives are blinded from the goodness and grace of God that has already been made known in our world. And we become absent minded to to to the to the rejoicing that we should carry forth on what God has already given us and the opportunity we have to shine for Him in the midst of hard things. And if you wait for things to get better before you do things, you’re going to do very little things for God in this world. But if you keep your eyes on what you have in Christ, despite what my might might or might not be happening around you, God can use you to make big waves and big differences in the lives of people around you. Not because your eyes are on the circumstances, but because your eyes are on him. And everything that God has given you. And Paul is saying this to the church in the situation. Yeah. With with Paul they may have had a difficult time.

Yeah. Some things may have gone everywhere they wanted to go. But man, water under the bridge. God is still wanting to do a work through his people. Maybe what I mean to say is if we could just get rid of the sense of entitlement is to say this if God’s people just got better at rejoicing in the Lord. And carrying a spirit of thankfulness. How much easier it would be for us to recognize that in the midst of difficult things, the great things that we can still do for God. Was that too harsh? Was that too grumpy? Okay. All right, we’ll move it on. If it was, forgive me. We’re moving on. A lack of generosity carries with it a spirit of selfishness. And again, selfishness is an indication that we as people don’t know the gospel of this. And Ephesians Chapter four. Think about this for a minute. He contrasts this idea of generosity. This way he says, like this Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in in need. If he’s in chapter four, verse 28 really gives Gods God’s people two options in life. You can either be a thief or you can be generous. That’s the two choices. There’s nothing else. You can be a thief or you can be generous. And it’s like, I look at this verse, I’m like, Wait, was there can there please be like a third option? You’re like, what about what about if we’re just stingy, right? Can we just be stingy? But if you think about it, stingy implies something.

Stingy implies that you own something and you just are going to want to hold on to a little harder. You don’t quite want to give it away. But here’s the reality with God’s people. You don’t own anything. There is nothing in this world that belongs to you. It’s all his. It’s all his. And whatever you have in this life, it’s only by the grace of God you’ve been given it. And really, the better title of looking at yourself rather than an owner is a steward. Because everything that you possess in this world, you’re accountable to God for what you wear, where you live, what you drive, whatever you do, those resources. It’s not yours, it’s his. And so under that thought, then, for God’s people, really, there’s there’s really two options. You you become a thief or you become generous. It kind of works like this. If you if you let’s say we’re a car mechanic and someone brings their car to you to get fixed. And you know, when they bring that car that you didn’t do your best work, that you gave a shoddy job and you return it back to them. You’re stealing. And you never really owned that car to begin with.

You were simply a steward of it. And to not steward it well is to steal. And it’s the same thing with the things that God has given us in this world to really recognize through through our hand. Like you did not control where you were born. You did not control the mind that was given to you. That’s all by the grace of God that has been offered. And so it becomes an opportunity then to leverage it for His glory and goodness. And so Paul is saying, look, faithful generosity matters and God has been entrusted to these these these things, these possessions, these opportunities to make a difference. And first, John 317 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes as hard against him, how does God’s love abide in him? I mean, could you even begin to explain that? Because when you begin to when you really understand the purpose of which God has have made has made people, and the purpose for which God has given his life for people. If God is willing to do that for people, how precious people must be to the Lord. And for us to say we belong to God but not care for people in that way with the things that we have. It doesn’t it doesn’t fit the context of the title of of a Christian. So faithful generosity becomes important for for our lives.

And verse 15, he he gave us that example then of saying, as it is written, whoever gathered much had nothing left over and whoever gathered little hadn’t had no lack. He’s taking this from the Book of Exodus when God provided manna that people would go out and gather, and as some could gather more than others, they would just share with one another because they understood that what fell from the sky. It was from God. So why would it be their resource to hoard? And if someone had a need, why not share it? And so Paul encourages that way. Number three, is this cooperative conviction. A cooperative conviction? He moves on and says, But but thanks, but thanks be to God who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you, for he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest. He is going to you of his own accord. I think Paul’s excited by this and he wants the church to be excited by this, saying, look, this is not just something I desire. This is something moving in the heart of God’s people. And God’s people are getting excited about this, so much so that it’s not just me wanting to come to you. It’s it’s really God’s people collectively. They they see how all of us are working together to make this difference, a cooperative conviction among God’s people.

I mean, it is it is a powerful movement that God can make when our our hearts are given over to him. And we start to look at this world the way that Jesus looks at this world. And we we collaborate and work together to see it accomplished. And it’s exciting. In fact, you think about the opposite of that. And how how not fun it is to do something by yourself. I can tell you some of my greatest life lessons of how important community is, is when I’ve walked into things of this world and I didn’t have a community around me. I even know for for us as a church like God was gracious to us and we were able to get this building. And at the time we got this building, we were a very small group of people and we had to do a lot of work. A lot of people put a lot of work in this facility because we just had we had pennies to get this building done. And and I remember there were some weeks where I showed up and I knew people wanted to be here, but they couldn’t be here because, well, they had jobs. And and I was here and I remember walking this building a few times just by myself. And it was lonely. And it was it was hard. And I would just get all sad in myself.

And if you ask me now, what’s what’s been the hardest time ever in ministry, I will tell you it was this stinkin building when I was here by myself working on it, because it is not fun doing things by yourself. But when you when one person just shows up, it is fantastic. Like, it’s like someone else cares with me and they see how this makes a difference and we can do this together. And this is awesome. And that’s what that’s what Paul is saying in this passage is like, look, we’re not we’re not just an island that you’re participating as a community for the cause of Christ and what God can do. And I think it’s a beautiful thing, even for us as a church family and what God has done and what God wants to do. I love it when we get missions teams here and we get to explain to people they come from anywhere else in this country and they just want to serve and they get to learn about Utah and they’re just blown away by the needs in Utah. And they love this place and they get excited about it and they want to support it. And and this church then through that becomes like a catalyst to see God do more things and continue to explode from your church planning and opportunity. I mean, at this point, I feel like every day I’m talking to someone that’s moving to Utah, that’s coming to plan, to church or to to serve in some capacity.

It is fantastic. It is incredible. But it’s because of a faithful community. The kids have vision for what God wants to do. Stay faithful with a heart of generosity, willing to lay their selves down for the cause of Christ. And Paul wants the church to see that. Not only does he he talk in this passage about Titus, but he also goes on and he says to us, one, to read the rest of verse 18. When we read that with with him, we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the Gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our goodwill. It’s Paul saying, and it’s not only Titus, but this other famous guy doesn’t even tell us who the famous guy is. I think one, because he doesn’t really care about fame. But two, we don’t really even need to know. It’s just people that matter, I guess to them are even excited about it. So he’s just he’s building that that opportunity to see all of God’s hand and the way it’s at work. And then point number four. Healthy accountability. We need healthy accountability.

My reason for that is it’s easy to get distracted when things get hard or even when life goes good. And so he says to us in the verse 20. We take this course? So that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us. Four. We aim at what is honorable, not only in the Lord’s sight, but also in the sight of man. And with them, we are sending our brother, whom we have often tested and found earnest and many manners, but who is more earnest than ever before because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for your brother, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. Paul tells us he wants accountability in verse 20 and he tells us why. The reason he wants accountability is because he wants a good testimony, not just before the Lord, but before others. Trust is one of the most important commodities you have if you want to make a difference in this world. Which means your character needs to be one of integrity in order to maintain that trust. It’s Paul’s having adversity with the Church of Corinth and being able to cooperate together because they didn’t trust him. And it wasn’t Paul’s fault. It was the fault of some leaders that were trying to lead the church astray.

But his trust, the trust that Paul had with the church was now in question. I’m Paul knew how important it was and because he knew how important it was, Paul was seeking after accountability because more than anything, what Paul desired was a good testimony to the people he won minister to. Yes. The same thing is true for us. That’s why as a church, when we do things, even financially, I told you last week, like we don’t hide our budget. Once a year we even print it and make it available for anyone that counts. How Bible Churches Are Home. Church. Our church exists to make a difference. And I move my family across the country simply to have church so we can have church gather for a social club. We gather as a people on a mission to live out what God has called us to in this world. Love God. Love others. Make a disciple. Jesus wants us to make a difference where we are. Accountability is important part with that, especially knowing as people, we often give in to temptations. But more than anything, if when to shine brightly in this valley, we need a good testimony. And good testimony is built on trust. And the way that we build trust is good character. In good character needs. Needs a friend to hold you accountable. And Paul’s saying before the church, he’s not above accountability. He doesn’t want to keep things in the dark.

I heard a story like this. There was a telemarketer who called a home. And she as she called a home, someone picked up on the other line and said. Hello in a whisper. And the telemarketer said, Hi, who am I talking to? And they said, This is Jimmy. And she said, Well, Jimmy, how old are you? Said, I’m four. And she said, Well, Jimmy, is there someone there that I can talk to that’s an adult? He says, My mom’s here. He said, Well, good. She said, Well, good. Can I talk to your mom? And he says, she’s busy. He says, okay, well, is anyone else there? My dad? Well, can I talk to your dad? He’s busy. Okay. Well, is there any other grown up there? And. And he says, there’s a policeman says, okay, well, can I talk to the policeman? He’s busy. Well, is there any other person there, Jimmy, that I can talk to? There’s the firemen. Well, okay. Can I talk to the fireman? He’s busy. Finally, the telemarketer says, Out of all these people in your house, I don’t understand how every adult is is busy. Why are all these adults busy? And Jimmy finally says, because they’re looking for me and he hangs up the phone. Right. What I’m saying is, like in the darkness. In the darkness, we can often do things we shouldn’t. And it affects our testimony. It affects the impact that Christ community can have in a valley.

But accountability. It’s not intended to dominate or over you, but to really help you be what God desires for you to be. And Paul encourages us in that. And then verse 24, he says it like this. So give proof before the churches of your love. And if our boasting about you to these men. Well, Paul is saying the current and what Paul is saying to us, we have potential to see God do great things even in the midst of the challenges because we have a great God who is with us. And in that, if we believe that, then we have the opportunity to prove our love. If we really believe that God can transform the darkest of circumstances because He’s done it in our own lives, if we really believe that God is with us and He’s for us. Then we have a great opportunity to prove that love in the way that it’s seen. As as we trust the Lord, we will demonstrate it through sacrificial, serving, faithful generosity, cooperative conviction and helpful this helpful and healthy accountability. So let me give it to you in this final illustration. This is a this is more of a secular illustration. But I know I knew of this individual because he was from Huntington, West Virginia. He he became a believer in his in the sixties or not in the sixties.

In the 1960s, he became a believer. But this is what we would refer to in my hometown as Woody Williams. But Hershel Woodrow Williams, he passed away just a few weeks ago. He was the last known living survivor of World War Two who had the Medal of Honor. And he just passed away with the Medal of Honor. For those who don’t know, it’s the highest decoration of valor in the US military. It is quote awarded for heroism above and beyond the call of duty. He received this in the Battle of Iwo Jima. And I don’t have time to go into all that he did in Iwo Jima. If you you actually can look it up in Wikipedia. They have five paragraphs on this actual battle. It’s pretty spectacular. There’s all kinds of interviews about his life as well that you can see on social media if you want to look look him up. But he did some incredible things. And what was interesting about him, 1949, 1942, I believe, was he tried to join the military and was rejected because he was too small. And then and then a few months later, the military changed their mind because of how much of a need they had in World War Two. And he was drafted and sent and he found himself in the Battle of Iwo Jima and fought valiantly. And and the Lord used him. Excuse me. He was used, I should say, for for the protection of his his the people that were in that battle, and for us as a country and all that.

But he received the Medal of Honor for that. And when I think about Woody Williams, not only do a see a man who really laid down his life, I also recognize that he represents a generation of people that we refer to as the greatest generation. Greatest generation were those born in 1901 to 1927. And and what I think made that generation one of the things I think made that generation so great is one, this was the generation that endured the Great Depression. And and if you were a child, especially during that time, you find yourself coming to an age only to be sent off to World War Two and never to return. Many of them never returned. I mean, so they they lived a hard life, fought a hard battle. Many of them never returned. And so we often refer to them as the greatest generation. If you don’t want to want to think about the greatest generation. One of the things that I think about when I when I use that phrase is to say, but, man, will that be the only time we ever talk about the greatest generation? We just refer to that forever as the group that’s in the past. I mean, can we ever, with any hope, look to the future and say and another greatest generation came.

And how does that happen? Why do they. Why do they get the term the greatest generation? I think for good reason. They have it. But why? Why do they? Why do they have it exclusively? I mean, is it possible? To make that known of another generation. I think reflective within that generation. We kind of we see the similar traits that we talked about this morning. One of the things that made him so great is these these similar traits. Like I read several stories about him coming into this week and hearing how he talked, even going into battle, the type of accountability he had, the way that they were willing to to lay down their lives and cooperate towards a particular conviction that they wanted to achieve. And they found themselves in the back end successful. And one of the things that if you read interview after interview from Woody Williams, he’ll tell you he didn’t even know what the Medal of Honor was. And when he when he went into battle, he suffered from that 20 years after the fact, he walked away from this battle. He suffered with depression because of what he experienced in battle. And it wasn’t until he said in the 1960s when he gave his life to the Lord that the Lord helped him to let go of all of that. But so he certainly made sacrifices that continued with him far, far beyond even on his battlefield.

And he was just a small, young country boy. And then he finds out after he gets the Medal of Honor that he’s going to meet the president of the United States. And how much that just blew this small town guy away. And he continued to say this about the Medal of Honor, because he knew that it really wasn’t a medal that he earned. He said This Medal of Honor is an honor that is not mine, but belongs to my brother in arms. I wear it in their honor, particularly those who never got to come home, and especially for two Marines who on February 23rd, 1945, sacrificed their lives protecting mine. So I wear it for them, not me. And guys, when I think about everything that we can do for Jesus related to this. I think about raising up a generation that would be another great generation. It requires that kind of attitude. But to understand in all of it that anything that we really do for the Lord isn’t about boasting in our own glory anyway. It’s about his. Because everything that we have. Here’s a gift. And when we will live. In light of that understanding, our hearts are more willing to lay itself down. To know the goodness of God and to allow the Lord to use us by His grace and to work together as His people holding one another accomplished to live for His glory to the blessing of others because of the Gospel.

2nd Corinthians 8:1-8

2nd Corinthians 9:1-15