2nd Corinthians 9:1-15
I’m going to invite you to second Corinthians Chapter nine. Second Corinthians Chapter nine is where we’re going to be today. And this is actually it’s interesting, this section of scripture, because I think I’ve told you over the last couple of weeks in the history of our church, which is not a, you know, a very long history, but in the history of our church, I think I have shared maybe, maybe three messages on the idea of generosity. And then we get to second Corinthians Chapter eight nine. We have found ourselves with three straight weeks on the topic of generosity. So these last three weeks have covered all of the history of our church and matching the amount of discussions that we’ve had on the topic of generosity. But but we’ve come to find that in studying this together, that generosity really isn’t entirely the theme of what Chapter eight and nine is about. Generosity. The spirit of generosity in the life of a believer is really a revealing of the state of your heart and relationship to God, which is why today, when we think about in terms of generosity, we’re going to really look at what the freedom of generosity brings into the life of the believer. But we’re going to title today’s message, letting go to move forward. And we think think about this title let go in order to move forward. I mean, it makes a lot of sense. If you’re anchored to something and you want to get somewhere else, you’ve got to in order to travel, you have to be able to let go of the anchor to to get to another location.
But we talk about in terms of letting go to move forward, I want us to approach today’s topic for more of a proverbial stand than an absolute truth, right? If you know the difference between maybe an absolute truth and a proverbs like you read the Old Testament, you might see the book of Proverbs, or there’s a lot of proverbial literature in the Bible versus, let’s say, something like an epistle that deals more with absolute truth. Epistles are more in the New Testament. They’re letters written to the church. They’re they’re sort of statements on how we should respond. If you know the difference between a proverb and a and an absolute truth, a proverb is generally true in most situations, but not always true in every situation. So when we talk about letting go in order to move forward, there are certain things that you don’t want to let go of. For example, wisdom. You don’t want to let go of wisdom. Like I tend to learn my wisdom the hard way. I do something dumb and then I realize I shouldn’t do that. And life becomes a great learning or lesson for me. I just learn by example of what not to do having done that now. And so wisdom is something you don’t want to let go of truth.
You don’t want to let go of truth. And there’s some distinguish between truth and wisdom, healthy relationship. You don’t want to let go of those things, but there’s there’s other things in life that we should be willing to let go of. For example, you don’t want to hold on to a lie if you’re the person that tends to gravitate towards anger and vengeance that can be toxic to the soul. You don’t want to hold on to to hurt. You don’t want to hold on to to idols. They’re even good things that we can hold on to that keep us from God. Things, right? Like you don’t necessarily want to find identity and possession or or just simply clinging to comfort in life or even greed. If we’re talking about generosity, we want to be able to move away from those things in order to to move forward and what God calls us to in life. And this is where Paul goes in today’s context, because Corinth had some things going on that they were holding on to that was preventing them from moving forward where God was calling them to. For example, they were holding on to a little bit of anger. They were holding on to some things that weren’t true to some lies. They were holding on to a greedy attitude. And with it all, they had some trust issues. And Paul has spent the better half of Corinth.
This letter to the Church of Corinth, building the church up and reestablishing some trust with him as an apostle in order to better guide them in the Lord. But God, God is going to teach us the importance of letting go of things that keep us from moving forward in him through the topic of generosity. And we’re going to see and I’ve broken it down in your notes and normally I give you some fill in the blanks, but I don’t want to do that this morning. I just want you to see these these themes that Paul addresses. And then we just want to think through this in a in a healthy way and what this means for our life. So Paul is going to cover three things and you haven’t have it in your notes. If you grab the notes this morning, one, Paul is going to show us a church that’s reluctant to let go to. Paul is going to give us a biblical reason to let go. And finally, at the very end, Paul is going to show us the results of what happens in the life of the believer when they’re willing to let go for for the Lord. So point number one, we’re going to go through this quickly in the first five verses here. We’re not going to spend a whole lot of time on these first first five verses. But I want you to see how Paul is approaching this church as he gets ready to address the topic of generosity when he starts to to describe them as a church who is reluctant to let go in verse number one, he says this now it’s superfluous for me to to write to you about the ministry, about the ministry for the Saints.
So Paul is saying, look, I don’t need to. Belabor this point. We’ve already talked about this. And so there’s I don’t need to keep rehashing this over and over with you, but verse number two, for I know you’re readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia. And we’ve talked about the region of Macedonia. Paul traveled to Macedonia. He established churches here. This is a poor region as far as churches go. Rome had attacked this region. This is northern Greece. This is where Alexander the Great came from. Rome conquered the Greeks in order to establish the kingdom that became the Roman Empire. And so this area had been heavily attacked and it was known as an impoverished area. This is where the Church of Philip II was, the Church of Thessalonica, the Church of Berea. And so Paul is talking about this region, saying that AK had been ready since last year and your zeal has has stirred up most of them. So they’re excited now seeing how Corinth wants to get involved in what God’s church is doing around the world.
And remember, we talked about Paul telling the church that that they needed to give to the to the needs of the church in Jerusalem, because the church in Jerusalem had been oppressed by by Rome, and there was a famine. And not only that, the believers in and around Jerusalem had been attacked. And so they were in desperate need and so they wanted to give towards those need. And Corinth started off with a lot of zeal, and Paul went back to the region of Macedonia, and he tells them, Look, the church in Corinth is excited about this. You guys want to give to this cause, too, and they get excited about it. And verse three But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be otherwise. If some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated to say nothing of you for for being so confident. Verse five So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you had have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift. Not as an exact. So. So Paul is saying to the church, look, I know you were excited in the beginning, but we’ve seen throughout this letter that there started to be some reluctance in their heart towards wanting to give to Jerusalem.
And some of it became came true because of their relationship with Paul. The relationship with Paul was on the fritz. They they they were no longer acknowledging him as an apostle. They had distanced themselves from him relationally. And now Paul has come back and reestablish this relationship. He’s been fighting for the church. He’s said to them, Look, I have nothing but love for you. And as God’s people. And he referred to them as saints and brothers and sisters in Christ and how he had given his life for them. And he wanted to continue to serve them in that way. And so Paul’s reestablished that relationship, but he’s gotten the sense that there’s still this reluctance to fulfill what they had promised to do, they had promised to give to the church in Jerusalem. And Paul is saying, look, because of that reluctance now I have this I’m a little timid towards whether or not you’re going to fulfill what you promised to do. And I don’t want it to look bad for you. I don’t want it to look bad for the for God’s people as a whole. And so I’m going to go ahead and send people down to you in order to prepare what you have already promised and giving to the Lord. And Paul doesn’t just end there. Paul he’s talking about a church now that seems a little reluctant towards the things of God.
But what he then goes on in verse six and He explains to them a biblical reason of why it’s important to let go, why that spirit of generosity is healthy for God’s people. And when He starts to explain to us in verse 6 to 8, I want to tell you that there are plenty of people, if you turn on, I don’t know, just your TV and listen to some televangelists, there are there are people that will take this passage and be very abusive with it and honestly be foolish and stupid about it. And I’m going to show you the dumb way they interpret what verse 6 to 8 says, and then we’re not going to do that. We’re going to talk about what this passage actually means. All right. Verse, verse, six to verse, say, look at this with me. He says this. He goes, he says, The point is this whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And whoever sows bountiful, he will also reap bountiful. Each one must give, as he decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver and God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things, at all times, you may abound in every good work. So here’s the wrong interpretation. In case you get this from this passage, what people can say or might say is this God wants you to give money, and in verse seven, He wants you to give money cheerfully.
And verse eight, If you give money cheerfully, then God will give you a lot more money, right? And it applies like this. They’ll say things like this. So a seed and reap a harvest. That’s typically the verbiage they use because that’s that’s the terminology that’s used within this passage through the example in verse six, if you sow a seed, reap a harvest, give a lot of money today God will give you a lot of money later, and then you’ll have a lot of money. And it kind of gives the the theme of this, that life is about this give money so you can get money, and in the end you’ll have a lot of money. That’s kind of the theme of what they’re presenting to you, which would lead to this theology. The happiest people on earth are rich people. Right. That’s kind of that’s kind of the and, you know, that’s that’s definitely true. Right. The happiest people on Earth are certainly the rich people. Rich people. That’s not true at all. I’m being facetious. That’s that’s an exaggeration. And we we know that some of the most miserable people in life. Are wealthy people. Just because you have a lot of things doesn’t equate to happiness in life and fact that this passage teaches the exact opposite of that. I mean, it’s dumb to suggest if you have a lot of money and you give all of your money, then God’s going to give you even more money than that.
So you have a life that’s not even Economics 101. If you have a lot of something and you give all of that something away, then you have nothing of that. Something that’s that’s that’s common sense. That’s that’s how that works, right? This is this is not like a voodoo passage where you get to decide, empty your bank account today and got to replenish it to double tomorrow. That is that is that is not what the saying, especially in terms of of finances. That’s not what God is saying at all in this passage. But but the reality is we as people tend to find our identity and our security through our stuff. Because I have a lot of things that makes me worth something. Doesn’t that make me great? That tends to be sometimes we can fall we can fall into that erroneous way of thinking. Just because I have a lot of stuff, it makes me secure. Just because I have a lot of stuff, it makes me important. And we start to find our identity in our possessions. But let me just read this verse. It’s not not going to be on the screen, but in Luke, chapter 12, verse 19, listen what the Lord says here. He says, He’s describing a person here. And this person says, and I will say to my soul, Luke, 12, verse 19, I will say to my soul, soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years.
Relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, Fool, this night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared. Whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God. Paul’s. Paul’s describing in Jesus is describing, look, there is a far different way to to understand what wealth is about. And it’s not about possession. This is what Paul wants us to begin to understand in this passage. In fact, the way that he’s doing it in verse six is he starts to give us this illustration of the idea of sowing seeds. Right. He does so sparingly, will reap sparingly. And he who sows bountiful will also reap bountiful. It kind of works like this. And as an example, if you were to meet a farmer and this farmer was to say to you, man, I am so rich, I am so rich. And you say to the farmer, Farmer, how how are you so rich? What makes you so rich? And the farmer says to you, Because I have a lot of seeds. Look at them. Look at all the seeds I have. I am so rich. Look at all my seeds. And you look at that farmer and you say, Farmer, it is July.
I don’t think you know how farming works. Right? If you’re looking at me in July and tell me how rich you are because you have a lot of seeds, I can tell you you have no understanding of what farming is about and something is messed up in your way of thinking, right. That is that is that is not wealth in the farming industry now. It’s certainly it’s certainly the potential for a great harvest. But it’s not true wealth. And this is this is exactly what Paul’s saying in Corinth and in verse six, it’s the same thing for someone to believe that just because you have a lot of stuff. That makes them wealthy. You certainly have have the potential for a great harvest through the things that God has given you. But real wealth he’s teaching us in this passage is not based on simply the things that you have in life. In fact, as we said, rich people aren’t necessarily the happiest people. And it has nothing to do with the possessions. But while he’s making the argument is measured in in a different way. In fact, if we skip forward just a little bit, I’m going to come back to verse seven and eight in a minute. But look at this. In verse nine, he gives us an example and he quotes he quotes in verse nine a passage from Psalm 112 and verse nine he goes back to some 112. Verse nine, he quotes a passage here.
He says, As it is written, he has distributed freely. He has given to the poor. His righteousness endures forever. He’s describing the the picture of the Lord here. It’s God who He’s given us freely. He has given to the poor. His righteousness endures forever. He’s he’s given this picture of what real wealth is about someone who’s who’s found them, their lives enriched and greater meaning and purpose than simply possession, whose identity is not found in the things that they have, but as is different than that. Well, Paul is describing is this idea of this this picture of righteousness. And we’ve talked about this a little bit just a few weeks ago. We talked about, if you remember, we talked about the idea of justice and a little bit of righteousness that put more emphasis on justice, because I knew I was going to talk more about righteousness today. But but justice, if you remember, is the word in the Old Testament. It’s the word mish pot. It’s mish pot. And the word justice can carry two ideas. It was it was the idea of retributive justice, which is someone does you wrong and you can restore by by reconciling what’s been done wrong. And then there’s restorative justice, meaning it goes even above and beyond that to to find those that have been harmed and helping them helping them being restored, being made whole. And the idea of righteousness in the Old Testament carries the same thought with it.
Sometimes we we see the word righteousness and we think to do right. Right. It’s just about living right. And righteousness certainly carries a component of of living, right? But the word righteousness is also it’s the Hebrew word tzedakah, tzedakah. And and it means simply more than just doing right. It’s it’s I have written here the ethical standard of right in relationship. It’s bringing relationship back to this place of wholeness. God’s desire for us as people is to walk in this world with the idea of justice and righteousness, to know that God has called you in this world from the time of Adam and Eve to be fruitful, multiply, and to bless, to take the things that God has supplied for you and allow it to flow through you to be a blessing to the people around you. That people are better off because of the relationship they have with you. And this is exactly what Paul is beginning to describe the idea of a really a wealthy person through the picture of mimicking God in verse nine. God is not one who who possesses all things and simply hoards it to himself. But he’s also a God of love. And love is about giving itself away. And so what does a God who owns all things do with what he possesses? He gives freely and it says he has given to the poor and his righteousness endures forever.
Meaning the only way we come to understand the righteousness of who God is truly. Is by being able to experience it relationally. If God had never given himself away, we would have never have known this characteristic of righteousness which he possesses. But it’s only because he was allowing the wealth of who he is to flow freely from his life. That we see the the richness of his righteousness on display. And so when Paul starts to talk in terms of wealth, he wants us to get this picture that that seeds aren’t really the measurement of your wealth, that seeds are simply the opportunity to demonstrate the wealth in which you possess that is far more than just simply earthly possessions. In verse ten, he goes on and says this as an example. Then to us he says He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. Well, what he’s saying is now this same God who demonstrates his righteousness in the world, by the way He gives of Himself, that we could be blessed and enriched in him now wants to supply for your life so that it would flow freely, flow through you in order to be a blessing to others. And God will continue to open up that channel more and more to be a blessing to this world as you allow yourself to take the seeds of which God has given you, which is not just monetary.
Its talents, its resources, its time. It’s what God has supplied through your life, not to hoard to yourself to say, Look how great I am simply because of what I have in something. But rather it’s to say. Look at who he is because of what I have through someone. When we begin to understand what real wealth is. We live to mimic a life described in verse nine through the the image of God for which we were created. So what we come to understand as God’s people is darkness. Darkness loves to prey on the weak. Darkness loves to prey on the vulnerable. But God works through his people to help what is weak, to become strong in him. That is righteousness. That is justice on display. And we become strong in him by finding our purpose and meaning in the Lord. That is real wealth. Hoarders never see this. People who find their identity in what they have. They they never experience this. And he goes on then in verse seven, and he says it like this to us. Each one must give, as he’s decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, meaning not, not, not begrudging, not just wanting to give because someone told you it’s good to give. So you’re like, Oh, okay, I’ll just give, you know, you just kind of tip God or, or not a compulsion, like someone that’s just been guilted to give.
That’s not the it’s not the goal of today. That’s not the freedom of generosity. That’s not what God’s people are about. It’s not just trying to force you to give because, well, you should just do it. And if you don’t, you’re an awful person. That’s not the goal of this at all. But he says this for God loves a cheerful giver. What God’s heart is to see the cheerfulness of your life and the way that you give. Because it’s only in the cheerfulness of your life that you you’re truly understanding what giving is all about. We wish people. We can struggle to give. And the reason we struggle is because we want to feel secure. And our money sometimes becomes that source and we want to feel important. And and our stuff can be that source where we find our importance and our meaning. You can’t give cheerfully if you find your worth and your identity and your security and your possessions, if you find your worth identity and security and the things that you possess, that when you go to give, you’ll give fearfully, you’ll give with worry, you’ll give with concern. That’s exactly what Paul is saying here. Are you wealthy because of what you possess? Are rich people really the happiest people? If you don’t. Cheerfully give. If your attitude let me say it like this. If your attitude when you give is not cheerful.
But it hints towards these words. Its reluctant. Or it’s driven by guilt. Can maybe I’ll just say something a little forward today. It’s probably because. You don’t own the things in your life, but the things in your life own you. You look at them to give you earth. I. Look at them. To give me worth. And the result of that is not a heart that is generous. A result of that is wanting to hold on to it because it helps me feel important. And the goal of that becomes. About me it owns and the things that I have end up owning me. To want to give and to give cheerfully. You got to believe something different. So how do we how do we give? Cheerfully. Not. Not reluctantly. Not begrudgingly. And Paul’s already hinted at it for us. If you see God. As your true identity. The source of where you find your worth. Not money. The source of where you find. You’re meaning not in your possessions or talents. If you see the Lord as your true protector and provider. It’s then that it gives you the freedom. To see what he provides as a seed. And it becomes a seed for you to be able to. So in order to declare the goodness of who he is and the way he truly looks after you. And in that it becomes a demonstration of your righteousness and where your hope lies.
And in that, it becomes a blessing to the people around you. Because they get to in a tangible way see the grace of God. And in that you’re declaring where real wealth comes from. In fact, he goes on in verse eight and he says this, and God is able to make all a grace abound to you. It’s not saying monetarily, it’s measuring wealth in a different way. And he’s saying all grace a bound to you so that having all sufficiency and all things at all times you may abound in every good work. It’s saying, finally, you’re free from the things in life that leads you captive, things in life that you might cling to, that keep you from truly moving forward. And where God has called you into this world because those things don’t own you anymore. Those things don’t hold you back. You have laid down your life to find your true identity and who Christ is. And you want that goodness of who got is to flow through your life. To bless others. To. So what are the results then? First 11. He goes on, he says this. You will be enriched in every way. I love that every way. If you want to circle a word, I think every way enriched and every way is definitely the focus on today, the freedom of generosity. This is what it means for us that when we can give cheerfully, we understand our identity is not found in the possession that we have, but our identity is secure in Christ.
And the way that He provides me and the things that He has given me, not because they’re mind, they’re his. And through that I get to be a blessing to this world and discover as I let go of the possessions of things in life, to look at the goodness of Christ and find my real worth in Him. And I’m realizing my wealth is not is not pigeonholed and just possessions. But I am enriched this way in every way. Which through us will produce Thanksgiving to God. So. So if I gave you just a few points just really for in these verses to think about what are the results? Verse 11, number one, you become wealthy and we’re certainly measuring wealth in a different way. But but you become wealthy if you if you think about even the first century, if calling yourself a Christian for a moment, if you think about the first century followers of Jesus, just the the original disciples Jesus picked and I say to you, describe to me their life. What did they go through? They walked a hard road. 11 of Jesus’s 12 disciples persecuted, ten of them martyred, one of them exiled on an island. One at one point tried to be they tried to boil him alive, John. They walked a hard road. But. But do you know what else they had? A life that was completely enriched and joyful and Christ.
Because they lived it with meaning and purpose, and God’s righteousness was experienced in in their world. And, and the righteousness of the Lord was known through them and their relationship. And they were though they died martyrs, they died wealthy in the Lord and verse in verse 12, it goes on and says this for the Ministry of the Service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many Thanksgivings to God. If I just broke this verse up for just a moment, the first half here, he’s saying, really, the church and honestly through that the world is better off because the saints are supplied with what they need. As God has blessed you with certain gifts, God has blessed everyone with the same gifts that you have. But the God has blessed us all uniquely with different gifts and talents so that we as a body can work together in order to be a blessing to each other. And when the church is enriched through the giving of oneself to benefit each other, the world becomes a better place. Because then we get to leave in that strength to be a blessing to the people around us. The world becomes a better place. When generosity flows through you. The world becomes a better place. Not only that, the second half of verse 12 tells us is also overflowing in many Thanksgiving to God, verse 13.
By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the Gospel of Christ. And what he’s saying is in God is glorified. When we live our lives that way, God is glorified through us. But. But not only through us. The world knows that the reason we do this is because of Christ. And others began to glorify God because of the example that is set by heart of generosity. And he goes on and says, In the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, verse 14, While they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Love it. And not only do you find your life being a blessing to others in verse 14, it returns because when people think about you, they think about the goodness of the Lord and their hearts are drawn to pray for you. And so in verse 14, your life becomes more enriched by a body that you’re connected to and the way that you serve and give your life for his glory. And then in verse 15, he says this. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift. And here’s what ultimately happens. It’s worship. It’s worship. When when Chapter 99 is is lived out in God’s people where it leads God’s people into more worship. And honestly, when you when you look at it.
Nuts and bolts. The end of the day talking about generosity. Really? Really. It’s about what you worship. Where do you find your life’s purpose? The generosity of your life already communicates to you. What your heart truly worships. Where you find your security. Where you find your meaning. Where you find your purpose. I thought about and if we were just to walk away from this the what is what is just a great illustration that captures the captures the meaning of this scripture. And and my heart was drawn to really our state. We are a state where the greatest snow on earth is made. Right. And when I hear that, I always think about Will Ferrell’s cup of coffee in the Elf. The greatest coffee you can have. We have supposedly the greatest on earth, which I know it’s good snow, but we live life elevated. And as I was thinking about what it means for us in Utah and walking and generosity. I started looking at a sport, a sport in the winter. And as I was looking at this, I realized I think I think this this sport is is the dangerous, most dangerous sport in all of the sporting world. And what I’m talking about, it’s it’s done in the snow, but it’s it’s downhill skiing. And it’s not just downhill skiing. If you ever watch the Paralympics, there is a sport that is made for blind people.
It’s downhill skiing for blind people. You see in this picture at the very front, there’s a guy with a microphone and he’s communicating to the person behind him. The guy in the front is the lead guide. The person in the back is the one that’s competing and they’re communicating to one another because there is such a sport will people will not only just go down the mountain, they’ll go to a mountain without the ability to see and they will hit speeds at 70 miles an hour. I mean, that is that is incredible. And of all the sports you’ve ever watched, if you’ve never seen this one, you need to Google this. And this is the fact that anyone does this at all. It’s just mind blowing to me. But to know this is an actual sport, this is incredible. But but when you think about what it takes to live this life and and to participate in this sport, you have to have some talents and some abilities. But you also have to have some trust. And they could have all the talents and abilities in this world. But if they don’t have the ability to trust. They’re not making it down that mountain. It seems true for us as believers. And God has gifted you. God has gifted you. And the purpose of those gifts are not that you hoard it to find your meaning and worth and value. And the gift itself, the purpose of those gifts is that you find your meaning and worth and value and the giver of those gifts.
You will never make it to that finish line. Without a heart that’s willing to let go. And you will never let go. Until you’re willing to trust in the one who’s gifted you with. When I think about the future of ABC, I realize I mean, God takes her church, he takes her church through seasons. And in every season we have an opportunity to learn something new. And when I think about the next two years that are in front of us, I realize God is starting to open up the doors of opportunity for us to be in a new location and a new building and more ministry potential that comes with that. But it will only go so far as God’s people are willing to be generous with things that God has given them. New ways to give new opportunities to serve. But if God’s people are willing to let go. If God’s people are willing to seek his face to grow in their trust with him, then then they’re going to be more willing to let go when they’re willing to let go. God will do incredible things through his people. And just like the first century church, you take the world by storm. God turns things around in the most darkest of situations, while darkness loves to prey on the weak. Through the power of the Lord. God does incredible things through his people.