The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “God scatters abroad, God gives to the poor; God's righteousness endures forever.” The Creator who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God given to you. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
Paul- letters- this time to the people of the church at Corinth- better known to us as the Corinthians. This is only one of the churches that Paul founded- and make no mistake, Paul was an agitator. He and his ministry team would come in to an area, give a testimony; in other words, tell how their lives were changed because of Christ, and they would talk about the many other areas and people who also have committed their lives to this new way of living and of worshiping God- The Followers of The Way, they called themselves. The Way, being one of the names for Christ- they followed the teachings, or ways, of Jesus.
Now all of these small groups of worshipers, (churches) were very diverse. Not just in allowing both Jews and non- Jews to participate, but also allowing women to be in worship with men, participating in the work of the ministry. They were also economically diverse. There were those who had money to spare, and there were people who had next to nothing.
In the passage I just read to you, Paul was concentrating on giving- His thinking and the practice of the early church since the days of the apostles, was that if people pooled together what they had, each person giving what they could, they could together accomplish the work of the gospel- it makes sense- it is exactly how we try to do ministry today.
But Paul wasn't just saying "give." He said "each person has to make up their minds what to give, because God loves a cheerful giver. That's a big statement... it talks abut being ok with what you give on the inside. It means that all of need to think really intently on not just how much to give, that's usually the easier part, but why we give. Now there are all kinds of reason why people give- many of our giving habits were formed in childhood. Many of us watched what our parents did, many of us followed a set amount, determined by someone other than us, perhaps our denomination had requirements on how much was acceptable- some of us may have started giving out of obligation and out of a sense of responsibility. Some of us may have enen been taught to give out of some sense of guilt, or to make up for some sin or something we were told was sinful.
But Paul makes it really clear here that our giving should only come from one place- and that is a place of gratutude- we are thankful to God for everything we've been supplied with, and out of that place, we decide how much and how to give.
For the past several weeks letters- today I'd like to ask you- not why you give, but what you are thankful for. You each have space on the back of your bulletin to jot down a few things that you are personally thankful for in the life of our church- or even thankful for in your own life- something you know that God has given you. That's important- in your life- , and dont add anything to it, like I'm so grateful for my pastor even though she drives me nuts- just put down what and why you are grateful for an I think it will be so meaningful and such a witness if we can share some of them.
(After sharing) There are so many reasons to be cheerful this morning... to give, out of gratitude..