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Cheerful Givers

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
August 26, 2021 8:00 am

Cheerful Givers

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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August 26, 2021 8:00 am

As the young church in Corinth grew in size, its membership faced new struggles on the path toward holiness, just as believers and churches do today. The Apostle Paul sent the letter we know as II Corinthians to encourage these believers to grow up in their faith. Dr. Boice illuminates all of Paul’s key points, including God’s comfort in affliction; forgiving people who have hurt us; the blessings of generosity; and why God allows thorns in our lives.

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Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet Ministry of finance of convincing evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically from the point of view of church management. It's unfortunate that we've come to these two middle chapters of second Corinthians chapters 8 and nine at this season of the year or that I am preaching for them for an evening service.

I mean by that that they deal with giving and in terms of our church year the proper time to deal with these chapters would be in the fall. About three weeks or two weeks before we receive the faith promise cards for the missions budget or the faith promise cards for the general budget that is all right. However, you get a report of those in the calendar week by week and if you're convicted. You still have time to deal with that.

But we deal with it here not because we have any special motive promoting the budgets of 10th church, but because the subject of giving comes up naturally is often does in the New Testament and in this case comes up naturally in the course of our exposition of this great second letter of Paul to the Corinthians is interesting in itself, but Paul spent so much time on the subject.

This book is not terribly long.

It's not one of the shortest, but it's not terribly long either.

And yet here in the center of it in a section all by itself, will takes two chapters to full chapters 88 intersperses other things.

But it's all related to full chapters to talk about this matter of giving. Obviously this was important to Paul. The offering itself which he was receiving from the Gentile churches and would eventually take Jerusalem, accompanied by the representatives of the Gentile churches for the public poor in Jerusalem. Obviously that was important to him and that obviously what the Corinthians did in this matter of giving was important.

So as we've already seen in two previous studies in chapter 8, and then that section that overlap the ending of chapter 8 and chapter 9 Paul probes into their motivation and holds before them. This great challenge that all Christian people always have, which is to be generous with what we've been given in service to Jesus Christ our beginning tonight with verse six and chapter 9 whereafter what isn't really in aggression but is somewhat of a shift of emphasis as he talks about Titus. Those who were sharing with them in the ministry. Paul returned specifically to giving money talks about here is the nature of Christian giving that which is pleasing to God talks about the blessing that is there for those who give in that manner, and then in the third place he gives us God's example and order that that itself might be a motivation to us to give. Now I want to look at each of those. First of all, the nature of Christian giving. As Paul spells it out. Remember this. He said whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

Each man should give what he has decided to give in his heart's not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Now those two verses. Verses six and seven. Give three characteristics of Christian giving and their characteristics that we can use to measure our own giving first is that it is generous. Second is that it is willing and the third is that it is cheerful.

I think it would be difficult if every one of us scored 10 in each of those three areas.

So there's something for us each to learn, I think, and perhaps about each one.

This matter and generosity is interesting. Paul holds out a principal if you saw always now is talking not of wild oats talking here about money funds that you have if you so sparingly. That is if you give just little bits here and there when you have to get that's the way you get it back in spiritual things, as well as a material things, but on the other hand, he says if you give generously will reap generously. And it's obviously a generous spirit that is holding forth.

We need to say when we talk about generosity in Christian giving, however, that that is always a matter of the heart and is proportionate to what we have. We don't think that way. Of course we stiffed were involved in fundraising. We tend to think in terms of the amount I watched you need is it $10,000 $100,000 half $1 million.

What you need to get the amount that you're all right. And the more generous people can be in terms of their ability to meet that amount. Well, so much the better at. That's just wonderful. Interesting that God doesn't think that way all he still thinks in terms of generosity is not the amount gone is conserved on this generosity is one of the commentators says is a matter not of the person of the heart whether there's a generous disposition and whether then is anxious to meet the needs of others out of whatever one happens to have Kent overlook at this point that story that we have in the 14th chapter of Mark's gospel where the Lord was standing outside the temple and the widow who had just two mites. That is the smallest little coin that you could possibly have I seen Mike's there so small they get lost in my pocket are smaller than any coin we have this woman came with these two mites and threw them into the treasury. Now you may have heard, it was true that the, the treasury was actually a receptacle somewhat like our old boxes out there near the vestibule, but what was made out of metal and Ira boxes are nicely filtered inside.

So when you drop your coins and it doesn't make a noise.

These metal things were designed to make a noise when you gave so what you wanted to do was come with a great big handful of change and sling it in the heart of the treasury up bigger rattle and everybody would turn around to see what is gay so much money in their gave this woman with no little things she will limit the machine.

It wouldn't make any noise and it would be gone and Jesus pointed out, he sought that he knew the woman's poverty and he said you know you see these people, there bankrolls they gave coins.

Of course, in our case it would be a roll of bills. We would say you see them peeling off the 20s and throwing them in the offering plate. You think that they are the ones that are generous is that I tell you this for widow who gave the two mites gave more than all of them because she gave her all that's all she had. So that's how God measures generosity. It's not whether you can give $100 or thousand dollars or $10,000 suits whether you have a heart for God, one that has been touched by his generosity to you when, whether out of that abundance that you received.

You give what you can and many cases above and beyond what you can for those who are in need. That's the first thing he says it is worth noting that in God's sight. Gifts that are given like that. However, small are not passed over.

Recall the ending of Matthew's gospel the 25th chapter Jesus giving the parable of the sheep and the goats, those who were passed over, and those were received and the ones were received were received and it was noticed that they had give them a cup of water in Jesus name. So you see the dimensions of the spiritual thing is real giving and generous giving but it's out of the heart and even the smallest thing that is given is not unnoticed by God.

The second characteristic is willingness. Now the translations don't use that word but that's what's involved in verse seven, every man should give what is decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.

Some years ago I was preaching on the 22nd chapter of Genesis and the obedience of Abraham in one of my points was that the obedience of Abraham was willing willing obedience. I recall asking the question at that point, which is the same kind of question we might ask here how it would be possible for Abraham to obey and might be willing because the argument would go me wasn't willing he would know that if he obeyed. He must be willing, so how can you talk about a willing obedience, as if that is a special characteristic of obeying God.

The point I made there is that there is such a thing as unwilling obedience all in one sent you have to be willing to do it, but in another sense, you can do it and still being grudging at every moment in your heart you can say to yourself, well, I suppose I have to do it, God is bigger than I am. And I suppose I don't do it. I get in trouble and he's telling me to do it. I guess I got to do it so alright I'll do it and hate every moment of it. That isn't the way Abraham obeyed, and that is not the way Paul here in the Bible in general encourages us to give a lot of people do give grudgingly, reluctantly, under compulsion. You have somebody doing fundraising may call you up in the phone and they say were trying to raise million dollars, $10 million, $50 million. Whatever it is for our school. The old alma mater, and where approaching all of the people who have good salaries and we know what business you're in.

We know about what you make and that we think you should give so much that's hard to say no to that I do often say no to that sort of thing that's hard is a kind of arm-twisting that goes on there and many many people sometimes we do it to you. Maybe one say, well, all right, put me down for you. Think how little you can get away with and you say half of what he asked for, and the man says oh thank you, because in his heart he was thinking.

Well he got happy doing pretty good. And so he put you down for that you've given what you've given, reluctantly given under compulsion pulses the way Christians should give that's not what should characterize the church is one reason why I'm so reluctant to speak about giving, especially at the time when we receive the faith promise cards we talk about it and you have to stewardship was part of the counsels of God. If you're going to be faithful to the Scriptures you have to talk about it as I'm doing now to do it. The time when we receive the faith promises or when were behind in the budget or some such thing because that always has a little aura of arm-twisting about it it's it's saying well you know what your charge and you don't give have to cut back in the programs you think over in your heart. Which of the staff you'd like to fire and it always has a as a little bit of that to it.

That's not the way to talk about giving.

I'm convinced the Lord provides for his abundantly above all that we need a dozen of material things as well. If our hearts are really responsive to him.

God's people general in this church the city across the land would simply out of gratitude that they should hamper what God has done for them and salvation provided for them and material things give even somewhat proportionately as God is given. Well the needs Lord's work would be met and abundant way and that's what Paul is talking of the first thing he mentions here is cheerfulness. He says we should give cheerfully, but I noticed that he doesn't do it in quite the same way he talks about generosity or willingness look at it carefully to see the difference. That's all. Obviously, a key characteristic but notice he says that we are to so generously doing exactly like a command but that's what he saying what is so generously he says that we should give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, he means by that we should give willingly. That's in the nature of a command, but now notice for God loves a cheerful giver doesn't say give generously give willingly and give cheerfully, he says give generously and give willingly because God loves a cheerful giver.

You see the difference.

He saying if you're giving generously, and if you're getting willfully you're gonna be checked all because you can't be giving generously and willingly, and at the same time begrudging it in your heart.

Who's the miserable giver, the one who gives just a little smallest amount he can get away with because he resents having to give even that generous gift on the generous giver in a sense taps into the characteristic of God and so something of the grace of God and the joy of God. Floods the soul. I never go around telling people how much they should give but sometimes I get close and I do think in terms of some of us who hoard our possessions at one of the best possible things that could ever happen. One of the best possible means of growth in our lives would be for us to give away major chunk of our capital all at one time or, failing that we don't give it away.

Forgot to take it away drop in the stock market or some such thing teaches us that we don't need those things to enjoy God and enjoy the abundance of the Christian life. I've said before and I say it again I think one reason why more of his art, richer, is that God knows we miss use it if he gave it he would use it on ourselves.

We impoverish our own souls, and so for the weather benefit of our souls. Jesus is concerned about. He doesn't give us more money does give us more.

It's a great obligation that we have to make sure we use that for him. So that's the nature of Christian giving that he talks about now.

The second thing is a great promise, and in fact there is a double promise. First of all, Mercedes says that if you give that way. God is going to provide all you need to say needs notice it in the middle.

Having all that you need is not saying you're going to get everything you want me lots of things I can think that I might want if I had time I do my work to stop and think about it. I think a lot of wants, but isn't talking about.

That means that he's talking about the promise of all have our needs met. But notice that when he talks about our needs. Although he talks about needs in a limited sense, Paul never last, talks about extravagantly now. Sometimes it helps to see this in the Greek language, but it's pretty evident in this passage you would in the English because they have translated the word all the equivalent of all in the Greek as all numerous times and you noticed were the end of the verses, the word everybody Greek. That's the word all to in Greek, you sort of fall over this worded span passer. So for that just goes it has all different kinds of endings to it, but it's Pam Pam Pam Pam as you go along here through the verse, God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in all good works.

That's what Paul is saying there's first great promise. You worry about the future you worry about your life.

You say how will I ever get by worrying and not trusting if you're trusting you're not worrying. I suggest that if you're worried best way to overcome your worry is to start giving some of what you have other people who have less than you do when a greater need. See if God is not faithful to his promise to meet all your need, making all grace abound so that in all things at all times, having all you need. It will abound in every good work.

In other words, you receive so much you be able to keep on getting. That's what Paul says is a second blessing here. Not only will we have all we need but we will be so enriched that we will be able to give others even more interesting how Paul doesn't get off track.

You know, we often do.

There is a kind of preaching today usually goes by the name of the prosperity gospel that says if you gets something to God. God will give you a way to get rich.

Paul wasn't exactly saying that it's truly saying that God will meet all your needs, but he never lets it stop with our need seasoning God will meet all your need of that's true when you bless you abundantly over and above your need, but it is in order that out of that abundance, you make you sleep never lets us get centered in ourselves. What we have is always something given to us in Christ were stewards of God's talents and graces we have that in order that in faithful hearts and with generosity and a willing spirit and cheerfully we might use it to minister to the needs of others. On the third part of this has to do with the example of God in his giving and our motivation very fact that God acts that bus with us is to motivate us. We spoke about these three marks of giving, generous, willing, cheerful, giving, and when you begin to think of that in terms of God and obviously applies. We speak of generous giving that God is generous while I suppose you can't use that phrase I was going to say. Generous to a fault gadget is that of God.

But God is abundantly generous, super abundantly generous.

We talk of willingness God doesn't give reluctantly or under compulsion, we talk of cheerfulness. God gives cheerfully.

If you really appreciated that about God those times in your prayer life as you reflect on things make me in times of loss or sorrow or disappointment, something that makes your heart tender and and makes you stop for a moment, in this mad rush of activity that characterizes our lives in you stop and it never in that kind of a time when your heart is tender before the Lord, and you look back over your life. What is happened to be ever really been overcome with a sense of God's generosity to you and should be true of every Christian. I think if you've never had that experience. You've lost a great blessing to be able to think over your life and and and in prayer to God say all God as I look at these things. How can I possibly have any complaints about you and how could I ever say oh you didn't treat me right you didn't treat me fairly or you didn't give me something that I really thought I should have say old instead Lord has been the other way if I had gotten everything I deserve. I think of all the trouble I'd be in. Now you spare me all those things in place of vacuum enriched my life.

You give me friends you give me a place in your kingdom you give me an understanding of your word and fellowship with all of those things that really make life worthwhile and then really thank God for it. If that happens, if you really have that sense of the generosity of God. Do you much in terms of income or little in terms of income you ever been touched by that, then it is out of that to say that you receive the motivation to go out and give from what you have other people there's a second part of this motivation that has to do with God, and that's what Paul talks about in verse 11 is already said once that God is going to provide for them in every way, so they'll have all things at all times. He says the same thing in verse 11.

But now with the different twist he has in mind other people what he has in mind is not only other people, but their response to God is what he says you will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through your generosity will result in Thanksgiving to God now. Specifically, what is talking about. There is the offering from the Gentile churches.

That's why he says to us, us, includes himself and those that are going to bear that offering to Jerusalem so he said your generosity communicated the poor in Jerusalem through us and advertised by us to those in the capital city. There will result in thanksgiving to God. We been studying Ephesians as you know in the morning and part of that study has required a an explanation of the hostility that existed between Judaism and the Gentile world in that century. I have taken some time to talk about how the Jews despised the Gentiles and how naturally by response, the Gentiles had very little use of the Jews.

Here is Paul saying we are going to demonstrate something that is absolutely remarkable in our time. This doesn't take place anywhere else you Gentiles were despised by those Jews are going to take up an offering to help them were going to carry and there were going to give it to them and we're going to say, look, this came from the Gentile churches that's going to be in evidence of the fact that God is working you when those people to receive it, and perhaps even some of those who look on her going to say what this is remarkable. This is not the sort of thing that would come out of the Gentile heart.

We know what those Gentiles are like this must be something done by God and so Thanksgiving will be given the God we give out a compassion that is true, we should give us Christians just because we PC people suffering should be wise in our giving this a lot of giving the distant wives we should be wise to be done out of compassion. You know the great objective that we have in our giving is that glory might be given to God not merely because we give because people who receive those gifts recognize them. Ultimately, as coming from him and thank God for them.

We have received generously and we thank God that is give generously and others with thank God, to the final aspect of this matter, motivation, going back to the action of God in giving us comes at the very end of the chapter verse 15 were Paul, seemingly out of the blue without any clear verbal connection with what is gone before says thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. Some commentators have said not quite sure what he's talking about there.

Maybe he's talking about the gift God gave through Gentile churches to the Jewish poor. It's not that at all.

Of course, what Paul is doing here in the very last statement he makes about this offering is to lift the eyes of those enemies writing up to God in his great gift of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ asked to give interesting because it indescribable never received an indescribable gift. My father once received a gift that left him unable to describe it. He said all isn't that interesting is it's just what I always needed. What is it he couldn't describe it because he didn't know what it was but did wasn't an indescribable gift somebody described it. The manufacturer probably did not leave the salesperson did. If you ever try to buy things at Christmas you'll find ready descriptions of guess I suppose there's no gift, no matter how extravagant of the human nature that is ever indescribable. I remember years some years ago. Now Richard Burton reactor gave diamond Elizabeth Taylor far as I know that was the most expensive gift at least in my lifetime than any human being ever given any other human being worth millions and millions of dollars but it was an indescribable matter fact it was described ad nauseam. Newspapers went on and on about you know how big it was the color of the shape only those things when I making you see is that no human gift is indescribable. You can always describe it so. And Paul says thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. The reason he calls the gift indescribable is that it is more than human gift is the gift of Jesus Christ, God, man, I suppose even in eternity will never fully be able to understand, let alone describe how can you describe the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ God and man. At the same time you know took the early church over 400 years even to formulate it and I didn't really do an adequate job. They wrestled with the doctrine of the Trinity. Up until the Council took place in 381 and there they decided what the Trinity was all about is one God in three persons, and then took them another 80 years and before 51 before they could decide how the two natures of Christ related to that in the final formulation was that God was one God in three persons in Jesus was one person in two natures for the 451 years to figure that out yet that didn't adequately describe Jesus Christ.

He is beyond our understanding that strongest person is also true of his work can we describe completely what the Lord Jesus Christ achieved for us by his death on the cross.

The Bible is filled with images to describe it talks about redemption and reconciliation atonement and justification then of other illustrations. I get a dozen exhaust three. That's what it means that God gave us an indescribable gift. The point of this you say is that if God has so given us cheerfully and willingly and generously even giving his own son for our salvation, then how generous willing and cheerful. Must we be as we get others merely church. It was a great man, Chrysostom, who wrote a sermon. One point on liberality of the widow Sarah Plath who gave her handful of meal to keep the prophet Elijah alive and he compared her generosity to that of Abraham, which is often cited because when the angels came and ran to the herd took an animal and sacrificed in order to feed the Angels. Here's what Chrysostom wrote this woman ran the risk out of poverty only, but even of death and extinction not only of herself but of her son, also she outstripped the hospitality of Abraham. Heard from which to fetch a tender calf, whereas she had been a handful of meal for the sake of the strangers. She spared not even her son and that even though she looked smart for things to come see she was a pagan. She didn't even have the hope of Israel had Chrysostom after he gives that great example writing in his day to people who certainly had far less when we do, said, I suppose, picking up on this text, in part, let us scatter abroad, he means of our material wealth but is given to the poor as we ought to give for it is not possible that lust of wealth and righteousness should dwell together in one man.

Let us pray our father, we thank you though at times it's difficult to receive it for the practical as well as the abstract theological and inspirational portions of your word. Thank you for these clear words about giving.

We pray that hidden large ways, not just in small ways, but in large ways. These principles might seize upon our lives, so we might pass from being among the company of miserable those who are made joyful in the Lord as they reflect by your grace something about a liberal spirit that caused you to give your son the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. We pray in Jesus. Most blessed and holy name.

You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken, God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.

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