Sermon: Holy Spirit and Giving

Written by Timothy

Holy Spirit And Giving

Today, we’re going to talk about the graceful art of giving. The most important word is “graceful,” because we’re going to talk about God’s grace in relationship to our giving and serving of Jesus. Before I even get started, though, I want to talk to pastors about the giving that is going on within the church which is verbalized in Jeremiah 6:13.

Jeremiah 6:13 – From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.

The giving within the body of Jesus Christ isn’t even close to what Jesus had in mind. Men are either manipulated or entertained into giving. They either do it out of pressure or they give out of their abundance, but it is not done by of the grace of God. We were visiting at a church one time in Pueblo, Colorado. When it came time for the offering (it was a rather small church) the pastor stood at the front and each individual walked down the center aisle, and the pastor watched them put in their money. Each person came down one at a time.

Then, there are the radio shows that offer something in return for people’s giving. Everybody sells their tapes and tracts. They are all greedy for money, people, or their ministry. But then again, the people get what they want.

Jeremiah 6:14 – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.

In some ways, people get what they deserve. These are the kind of pastors they want. They don’t mind giving their token money and getting something in return. As long as the preachers don’t preach too strongly, then people will continue to give and feed those kinds of prophets and priests.

I want to show that it works first in the congregations who allow this to take place. Jesus talks about people that claim to be Christians, who say they know Jesus Christ;

Luke 16:8 – The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.

Jesus says this about Christians, about believers. This is what he says to you and me and to each of us who say that we belong to the family of God:

Luke 16:8 – For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.

Jesus is declaring that Christians are dumber than the world, that the world is more intelligent in its use of money than are Christians. It should be the total opposite. Walk into any Christian bookstore or look at any TV program guide or Christian magazine, and you will find all kinds of discussions about how Christians should handle their money. They offer advice on how to be able to tithe better, give more, or to stay out of debt. There is a great deal of discussion about giving, serving, and manipulating money, but it is not by the grace of God. It is by man’s own human wisdom and strength.

Luke 16:9-11 – I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

Jesus gives a condition to being blessed spiritually. He says if you cannot handle money in Jesus Christ, who is going to give you real spiritual blessings? Who is going to give you the joy of the Holy Spirit? Who is going to give you the sense of grace? Who is going to give you the presence of God in your life if you do not learn how to handle worldly wealth? This is exactly what we see within the body of Jesus Christ. People do not know how to handle worldly wealth by the grace of God. They might know how to handle it according to “godly principles,” but not according to the grace of God, and those are two different things. We are talking about the graceful art of giving.

Now, think about it for a moment. Christians are supposed to hate and despise money, yet they sure do an awful lot of discussing about that which they hate. Let’s look at some people who set the example for us to imitate. We will see the kind of people God considered to be so pure and so holy that they would be our example.

2 Corinthians 8:1 – And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.

Here is the key to giving. It is a grace. Most people don’t think of giving as a grace. They think of it as something they control and manipulate. It is a gift. It is something that comes from God. It is a grace unlike any other kind of grace. You can’t bring it on yourself. We give it is according to circumstances or because we have been hyped up or pumped up to give or because we get something outwardly in return? It is not the grace of God, in other words, it is not a gift of God being worked within us.

2 Corinthians 8:7 – But just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in the grace of giving.

Faith is a gift. Being able to speak holy words to people is a gift from God. To have knowledge, to have complete earnestness all of those things are a gift, power, and grace that comes from God. When we talk about giving, we are talking about the power of God working in our life. We are talking about the very grace of God moving us to act and to work.

1 Corinthians 1:4 – I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

If we expect to be able to give like Jesus wants us to give, we are going to have to ask for the grace. I don’t care how much you give. I want to know how much you give according to the grace of God. You might give a hundred dollars and one dollar of that really being by the grace of God.


1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am…

Most people are what they are because of the books they read, the sermons they listen to, or the things that they study.

1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Now, let’s apply that to our giving. We need to be able to say with confidence that our giving is by the grace, the power, and the working of God in our lives.

Let’s go back to the old law, because we’re going to see within Exodus 35:20 the same thing that’s in the New Testament.

Exodus 35:20 – Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence…

What is God telling us here? Why does God write in Exodus that whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence? God tells us this to show that their giving was not under compulsion. It was not compelled by circumstance. It wasn’t because somebody got up and preached a sermon about giving and then passed the plate. They gave because their hearts were willing, not because they heard the angels’ voices or because of Moses’ presence or there was a project and they were receiving something in return. Every preacher who preaches about giving should not take a collection the day he preaches about it. Everybody who has a project that they feel God has called them to do, should not take a collection on that day. Why? You can get people all excited at the time with an emotional response to give, but it is not by the grace of God. It is because outwardly you motivated the people to give. Good salesmen do that. How many men and women buy things they never intended to buy because a good salesman motivated them? Well, what do you think many preachers are? Nothing more than good salesmen.

I used to sell clothing a long, long time ago. I never pressured the people. I would show them the goods. One woman worked with us and when she handled people, they would walk out a look on their faces of “Why did I buy that?” They didn’t come in to buy that. They came in for a pair of socks and would leave with a suit not knowing how it happened. That’s how good she was. Of course, everybody else hated her, but that’s beside the point. How many preachers get up and they get their people to give and to serve, but it is due to the special project they have or because they want to belong to this group or club. How outwardly motivated we are as God’s people. Leave Moses’ presence. Get out from underneath that kind of pressure and give because of a willing heart.

Exodus 35:21-22 – …and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds; brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the Lord.

We find the word “willing” all through 2 Corinthians. Without compulsion. They did not give because they were in the presence of Paul or Moses. They gave because they wanted to give. Now in 2 Corinthians 6:1, Paul urges the people not to receive God’s grace in vain. He says:

2 Corinthians 6:1- As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.

How many people receive the grace of God in vain? They either do not give in joy, they do not give at all, or they give completely to the wrong causes for the wrong people. They receive grace, God is moving and working in their life, but they either spend it on themselves or they don’t spend it at all or they don’t give according to the grace of God. They receive that which God is seeking to work in vain. It would have been better had they not received it at all. Let’s not be that kind of people. Paul holds up the Macedonian people as our example.

Look at 2 Corinthians 8:2, because this is the verse you’re not going to like. What is the catalyst for producing holy giving? What is the recipe that will mix it all together and make it come out as a holy offering unto the Lord? Where does God’s grace work the best? Under what circumstances is he able to move his people to give in a holy way? What is it that God holds up for us to look at? What is it that we can expect then for God to work and to manipulate in our own life so that we, too, can have this grace?

2 Corinthians 8:2 – Out of the most severe trial…

So, where does the grace of giving begin? Out of a severe trial. It doesn’t begin with the bonus check you get. It doesn’t begin with the tax return check. It doesn’t begin with the extra. This grace begins out of a severe trial. Out of the most severe trial there is overflowing joy. So, where do we get the joy, but only in a most severe trial? Now, how much giving within the body of Jesus Christ is a catalyst out of a severe trial? People have to be pressured into giving. They have to be psyched up or bribed.

2 Corinthians 8:2 – Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty…

Do you want the grace of God for giving? Then get into the prayer closet and say, “Okay, God, I want the grace that will enable me to give to other people.” All of a sudden, you will get poorer and poorer, you will get weaker and weaker, and where does grace begin to work? We expect God to give us more money to give, and then, we wonder why we don’t give anything. Do you see how backward man’s thinking is according to how God would work to purify hearts?

2 Corinthians 8:2 – Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty…

This is where the grace bursts forth.

2 Corinthians 8:2 – …welled up in rich generosity.

Do we want the grace of giving? Do we count our trials, our doing without, and our sacrificing to be pure joy? Do we have an overflowing joy like they had? Do we have a rich generosity like they did? So many people give without joy and do you know why? Because they don’t give everything. They might give outwardly, but in their heart they don’t give all to Jesus, and so they don’t have the joy that God has in mind. Here, these people are going through a severe trial. They are extremely poor, yet they still desire to give. In 2 Corinthians 8:3 it says something even better.

2 Corinthians 8:3 – For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own…

These people were in a trial. They were probably holding on for their lives. Not only were they going through the trial, but they were also extremely poor people. What dawned on them to do amidst their trial and pressure? To pray to get out of the circumstance? To go to another church and ask for help? No! What dawned on these people was to give to other people. They did it entirely on their own. Nobody came in and said, “Look, if you give, you get a tax deduction,” or “If you give, we’ll send you this five-part tape series by Paul of Tarsus,” or “We’ll give you Offer #333 if you order and send money today. We know you’ll be blessed.” Entirely on their own, they just said, “We want to be able to give.” No catch phrases or special meanings.

There is an event we are going to in the middle of the month. It is a special dinner where a well-known pastor invites people to come. We’re going to go to a hotel and hear his little speech. It is all for money. I go to listen to the speech, not for the meal, but what are they doing? They wine and dine people, take them out a little bit and the people will give them the money they want. They found this to be very effective.

2 Corinthians 8:3 – For I testify that they gave as much as they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.

What is God trying to tell us? If we want the grace, if we want to give a gift, it is not conditional on what you have. It is conditional upon a surrendered heart. If you want to be able to give, if it is a grace, if it is a power that comes from God, then who do you ask for the grace to give but God? And, like any other gift, whether it be the gift of tongues, whether it be the gift of prophesy, whether it be knowledge or speech or faith, as much as God gives those things he seeks to work this also. Most people’s giving is based on circumstance. How much they earn at work. How much they set aside to tithe. They give out of their own will, not with this kind of heart response.

2 Corinthians 8:4 – They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

They were pleading and begging with Paul to be able to give. They counted it as a privilege, an honor, something grand that they were able to do. They begged to be able to give. They went before the throne of God saying, “God, we want this grace. We want this privilege.” You can hear the prayer they probably poured out before God, can’t you? You can imagine that it wasn’t based on what they had in their bank account or whether they were going to be able to survive or whether all of their needs were going to be met. They were pleading before God to have the privilege and the honor to be able to give. And remember this clearly! They did all of this on their own. No wonder their joy was full. No wonder God honored them. No wonder he was willing to write in Holy Scripture about their hearts.

2 Corinthians 8:5 – And they did not do as we expected.

What do we expect most people to do? We expect most people to respond to the programs. Radio ministries and TV ministries give all kinds of little trinkets and little gifts away. Why? Because it works. They know that they can motivate people to send in their money. People are predictable. If you feed their flesh, they will give you what you ask.

2 Corinthians 8:5 – And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

This would stop a lot of greedy, self-serving pastors right in their tracks. Imagine if every Christian, is praying all week long before he comes to church, “God, what is your will in terms of giving here?” I was in a church one time where people were giving and yet complaining against the leadership continually. I said, “Why do you continue to give? I can’t support something that is unholy and unclean.” They looked at me like I was some strange creature. You’ve got to give yourself first to God and then to those people in keeping with God’s will. There is no danger of any man manipulating you. There is never any danger that somebody is going to come in with a program to sweep me off my feet and make me pull out my wallet and empty all of my money. Why? Because who am I seeking? Who am I listening to but God? No man can motivate me. No man can put enough guilt on me. No man can psych me up enough to cause me to pull out my checkbook and write out what he wants because man does not motivate me. I’m not looking to gain anything from these prophets or priests. I give myself first to the Lord, and then as God directs and moves in my life. Now, don’t think for a moment that running to God’s will is going to make your life more secure. I know there are a lot of people that are thinking, “Great, I’m going to run to God, and then my giving will be less. Yeah, I’m sick and tired of all these programs and being bled to death and having all of my money taken away. You’re right! I’m just going to seek God and only give what God tells me to give.” They think that is safer ground because they misunderstand the very nature and the heart of God. They are trying to run to God’s will to stop giving. But if you run to God’s will, what is he going to begin to work? Extreme poverty, surrender, a concern for the needs of Jesus Christ. Oh, it is the only joyful ground. It is the only place that our giving will last. It is a grace, but it is not safer ground in terms of your flesh. Look at their hearts. Look at these people and what motivated them and how they surrendered themselves to God.

2 Corinthians 8:6 – So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part of grace.

What do you see over and over again? What word rings out? Grace. When you pray before God, that’s an act of grace. When you share the gospel with somebody, that’s an act of grace. It is a dependence upon the Holy Spirit. It is a movement by the hand of God in your life. When you are holy and self-disciplined, when you are able to say no to something that is an act of grace. God is moving and working in your life. When it comes to our giving, is it really an act of grace flowing through us? Are we following through in bringing it to completion?

2 Corinthians 8:7 – But just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for use that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Ask yourself if you excel in the grace of giving. I don’t mean in terms of a dollar amount, because that means nothing. I’m talking about your willingness, your joy, and your surrender to God’s will. You are doing it not out of obligation or tradition, but because you’re always seeking God’s will with everything you have. Not with the extra you have, but out of your extreme poverty you are coming before the Lord, pleading with God for the privilege to be able to give. That kind of grace gives no thought for itself. Look at the footnote down at the bottom of your Bible. It says, “As you excel in our love for you.” Some manuscripts of Scripture say, “You excel in our love for you.” They knew Paul’s life. They knew his surrender. They knew his love for God. How many pastors, churches, and ministries want you to give, but you don’t excel in really knowing their love for what they do? You know they are self-serving in what they do. You know they have their building more in mind than the glory of God. We’re not talking about blind giving, not by any means. In fact, if you pray for this kind of grace, you are going to receive the light of God. He is going to teach you what to do. The teaching about giving is not a commandment, yet it is taught today as a commandment, isn’t it? I know it is taught as a principle, but that is the same thing as a commandment. What are the principles that churches expound? If you do these things, then God will move. Is that not a commandment? Isn’t that the nature of law? If you obey these certain principles or these certain laws then God will meet these certain needs, too. You’ll have your money in order, there will be less stress in your family, and everything will be rosy and nice.

2 Corinthians 8:8 – I am not commanding you…

This isn’t a commandment. God isn’t going to come along and say, “You must give this amount.” The whole 10% concept is an old law, anyway. It is not a commandment or anything associated with the new covenant. “I am not commanding you.” The next verse says,

2 Corinthians 8:8 – … but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.

Now, listen up. He is saying, “I am testing the sincerity with which you give.” How much purity is really in your giving? How much of God’s grace is really there? Not in terms of what you give or by the zealousness with which you give, but by the sincerity with which you give. Think about the consequences if ministries began to test the sincerity of those who give to their churches. We’ve turned down money before. By the grace of God, we will turn it down again from those who are insincere, when the purity is not there. Paul is saying, “Do you want this grace of giving? Then, let’s test your sincerity. Let’s test the purity with this act of grace that you say you have.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Okay, you want the grace of Jesus? You want the grace that lived in him? In churches everywhere, men and women sing all morning long that they want the grace of God. Look at this!

2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

That is the grace. That is the work he did. Now, I’m not telling you to go out and make yourself poor. I’m not telling you that if you went out and sold everything today, your house, your car and everything you have, that you would be in the grace of God. The grace of God is surrendering to God’s will and letting him work and move within your life. But, it is also more than that because it goes beyond God just moving you and making you do it in that classical sense. On the one hand, God’s people are looking toward heaven urgently pleading to be able to give. On the other hand, God is looking down upon men, waiting to find people that are urgently pleading to be able to give. Do you see the contrast? Most people are waiting for God to speak from heaven to move them to give, but they are not urgently pleading for the privilege to do so because God can’t find the heart.

2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

How many people are unwilling to become poor in this world in order that others might be rich? They know not what this Scripture is talking about. Pastors will use this scripture to build a building and do things that they want done. Giving like the Corinthians had is not just centered around the church, but it is urgently pleading to serve other people.

2 Corinthians 8:10 – And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so.

Now, think about that statement for a moment. Just because you were zealous to give at one time doesn’t mean you don’t need to be refreshed and urged on at another time. They were the first ones last year eager to give, right? Not so this year, the Macedonian church beat them out. Think about that contest for a moment. If all of the churches were eager in trying to out-do each other in terms of giving what a change there would be within the body of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 8:10 – And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so.

Why not so this year? The desire has cooled down a little bit. They’ve lost some of their joy. He now had to test the sincerity in their giving. Already within a period of one year. Maybe their giving was becoming traditional. “Well, we’ve always given to Paul before in this month and so let’s take a collection up again.” They were cooling down a little bit and he was testing their sincerity to see whether the fire was there, whether the zeal was there. He was comparing it to those who were giving out of a whole lot of poverty and extreme trial. Maybe they were comfortable in their giving. Maybe the amount was large. “Well, we gave fifteen-thousand dollars to missions last year.” They are possibly becoming prideful in their giving and he wants to test it by those who can only give a hundred dollars to missions for the whole year, but they do so out of the grace of God. It’s not the amount that’s important.

2 Corinthians 8:11 – Now finish the work…

They had started the work, but they were not carrying it on to completion. Now, what does that tell you about your giving? If you get before God and you ask God and you have this certain amount that you want to give you are going to have to carry it to completion. Circumstances may come and go, situations and problems may arise, certain pressures may come on you that try to keep you from that work, but finish the work. Make sure you complete what you start. You made a vow to God, so to speak, but maybe with not quite that much seriousness, but you wanted that grace, now be sure that you complete that which you have started. How do most people give? They are sitting down in the pews and they begin to look in their checkbook as the plate starts passing. They will look through to see what their balance is and figure out what they can give. Nobody in the family has discussed it or prayed about it. There has been no preparation. It is a haphazard giving. The only reason we don’t pass the plate here is that I get so tired of people always putting something in just so they won’t look bad. A dollar or quarter. I remember as a child when I went to the Methodist Church my dad would pass me a quarter. You could hear money dropping as kids were putting in their quarters. It was the thing to do. There was no thought about who you were giving to, whether this was by the grace of God or whether you were completing something that you had in mind. Now, think about it. Even in the world, if people want something they sit down and consider a plan of action to achieve what they want, whether it is a house or a car or whatever. If you went to a seminar about how to put your godly money to work, they would tell you to have a plan and a goal in mind. But, how little thought is given to how much God’s grace wants to work within us.

2 Corinthians 8:12 – For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

The only question you need to ask is, “Where is the willingness?” I wish we could see our own hearts for a moment, and I wish that we could understand what really lingers in our hearts so that we could only give what we were willing to give. I wonder how far it would really go? Do we give because of obligation or because we know we should or somebody is in need and we just can’t stand to turn our back on them? We do not give out of a willingness, an eagerness, a desire to do so, a longing for it to be performed. That is what he is testing and that is what makes your gift acceptable before God. If you have a joy about what you are doing, if you are eager to meet the needs of Jesus Christ and if you willingly do, then you have a reward in heaven. When the willingness stops, you lose your reward. You might give three hundred dollars, but if only a dollar of that is given willingly, that is all you receive in terms of your reward.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give…

Most people give out of their intellect. Whatever wisdom they think they have put together, that’s how they give. Very few of us examine our hearts in terms of what we give.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly…

Reluctant is the opposite of willing. There must be that overwhelming desire to perform that function. There must be purity and sincerity of heart that says, “I am willing and desirous to do this.” Look at the second part.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – …or under compulsion…

The church should not manipulate or have programs. The church should not put pressure on or bribe people to give. The prophets and the priests should not be greedy for gain. “If you give this offering we will send this to you.” Such things are an abomination unto God. All we teach God’s people to do is to love coupons more than God.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

He’s happy about what he is doing! He is thrilled with the opportunity. He is excited about what God is working. If you are excited about a gift of knowledge, you should be excited about the gift of giving. If you received a gift of faith that could raise the dead, you’d be excited about that, wouldn’t you? In the same way, our giving is a gift that is a grace from God, and when we give it should be done with an extreme amount of joy. I am afraid that a lot of people give to buy off God. They sin all during the week instead of getting a soft and teachable heart. They give to God, but they think they are buying off God. The heart has to be clean in the giving. The giving will not make your heart clean. Let’s not get things backwards. If you can’t be trusted with worldly wealth, who is going to give you true riches? If you can’t give money with a joyful heart and faith in God, if you can’t see the reward that you’ll have in heaven, how are you going to have the purity of heart that you so desire? Indeed, how the world is more wise in terms of its use of money than are the people of the light.

2 Corinthians 8:13-15 – Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

Now, this isn’t Communism. With communism if I own a color TV set, then everybody gets a color TV. If it is a 13-inch color TV, then everybody else has a 13-inch color TV. This isn’t communism where everybody has the same thing, so if I buy a new shirt, then everybody else buys a new shirt. It is saying there will be equality. “He who gathered did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.” It doesn’t mean that everybody has an equal amount completely, so let us not confuse this with some type of worldly discussion. Equality is so that everybody is relieved and everybody is joyful and everybody is surrendering everything before God.

2 Corinthians 8:16 – I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.

It is the same love and purity. These are men worthy to be given to. The reason that I bring this up is that most people just refuse to weigh who they are giving to. They figure that if the cause is good enough or, if the program is fancy enough or if it has enough colorful pictures, they will give. The same love that was in Paul, the same love that came from Jesus Christ, that same selfless love was also now in Titus. The money is being given to these men.

2 Corinthians 8:16-17 – I thank God, who put it into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.

What do you see going on with these people? They are excited about what they are doing. Don’t you just get a general impression that they are eager to do what they are doing, that they can’t wait for the job to be performed? This is not found much in the body of Jesus Christ. “His own initiative”! With “much enthusiasm”! He is excited about the distribution and the collection of this gift.

2 Corinthians 8:18-19 – And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.

Their goal is to honor Jesus Christ and demonstrate their eagerness to help. You love these Christians because they want to prove something. They want to prove they are Christians. They want to prove that what they do they do out of love for Jesus Christ. The very last thing that I ever have on my mind is to charge for sermon tapes. I can remember even in this body, when I said that I wanted to give away VHS tapes for free, I got a little bit of flack about that. We are going to prove something to the body of Jesus Christ. We’re going to prove that we are eager to serve and to help. We are going to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a boast that we can proclaim before God and men and especially on the Judgment Day that we did these things. Why? Because we are large? Because I won the lottery? Because we have more money than we know possibly what to do with? No. Out of extremeno, I can’t say extreme povertyrelatively speaking. Why? Out of a love for Jesus Christ. Out of hating and despising money. We are going to prove that we do and nobody is going to rob me of that joy. There are lots of things that I stumble and I falter in, but nobody is going to rob me of the joy in being able to give those things away for free and I’m going to look for every opportunity to be able to do so. Why? Because I’m proving that I’m eager to help and demonstrating that we are going to honor Jesus Christ. Most people don’t have that joy because they are shrewd in dealing with their money. They’re not in love with Jesus Christ. Those who are in love are eager, pleading in prayer for grace, asking for the privilege, looking for the opportunity, praying for the needs to arise so that they can be met. They are pleading before a holy God because it is not dependent on what they have. Even if those things never materialize, what is important is the sincerity and the truth of our hearts.

2 Corinthians 8:20-21 – We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

Somebody told their father that we don’t pass the plate here and he said, “You don’t know, they’re just passing the plate somewhere.” No matter what you do, you are never going to quite convince the world that you hate and despise money. You have to prove it. You have to go to great pains for that to happen. I know that some people who get the free tapes have the suspicion that there is some money lying around somewhere. They don’t know that if we had to give plasma, we’d do it in order to pay for tapes.

2 Corinthians 8:22 – In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.

What kind of brother or sister are you? Have you proved to be of great zealousness? He says that his zeal has increased because he can be confident of them. Being confident of your brothers and sisters also increases your zeal. You know, I know what Paul means because I’ve seen a lot of people fall away. I’ had a period of my life where that zeal was just drained out time and time again. I had to go back and to plead before God to maintain the zeal. As David says in his psalms, “My zeal wears me out because people ignore your law.” What encourages, refreshes, and strengthens is obedience to God’s word. Some of you give a lot, but it’s not just the giving that is important or that I can say, “Gee, the bill was paid and that was grand.” What I look for, what refreshes, what strengthens, what produces zeal among all of us is everybody’s willingness, joy and surrender with what they are doing. It’s a thrill to see people who count it a privilege to be able to do what they do. Count it all joy! Count it all grace! But, you can’t because all you are worried about is the money. You can’t surrender before God to hear what needs to meet, what ones not to meet, and you’re just tossed back and forth. You miss the very joy and the privilege that you have. As a pastor, I wish I could give it all and never have to take from anybody else. I would consider that to be a privilege in Jesus Christ and I can’t have that privilege.

2 Corinthians 8:23 – As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they have representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.

Scripture points out to us that these men were men of quality. If people would just sit down even, with their twenty bucks, and instead of just routinely giving, weigh who and what they are giving to the ministries that are powerful and the men that are trustworthy would be able to do the work that they are supposed to do.

2 Corinthians 8:24 – Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Show why we take pride in you. We boast to other people about your love for God, so demonstrate that it is true. He is not commanding. He’s not putting pressure on. If your heart is hard, it is pressure. If your heart is wicked and you love money, this is a commandment. That’s why people love prophets and priests who say peace, peace, when there is no peace, who they can buy it off with twenty bucks. Paul is dealing with their hearts.

2 Corinthians 9:1-2 – There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians.

Can you imagine that? These people are going through severe trials, they are in extreme poverty, and he is boasting to them about this other church. Why? Because Paul wants more money? Certainly not. He is purifying their hearts. He is cleansing their giving. He is reminding them that it is grace. Consider that for a moment very carefully. Whatever you are able to give, it should be because it is a gift and a grace from God. How holy and pure.

2 Corinthians 9:2 – For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.

What are we back to again? If you’ve got somebody moping about what they are giving, you eventually have a group of mopey givers. Just go back and read about the Israelites sometime and find out how grumbling went through the camp. But, if everybody is eager about serving and giving and you are building each other up you begin to forget about the nice little trial you are going through, and everybody begins to seek God. If somebody is running around this church like a chicken with it’s head cut off excited about being able to give and saying, “I’m seeking the very face of God and I’m being able to give this money,” others start asking, “Where in the world did you get that joy?” Your response is, “Because I gave money by God’s grace.” What’s that going to encourage other people to do? How much we miss the very joy of what God wants to bring. Why? Because it is the green stuff we have our eyes on, the worry about our own bills. This isn’t a plea for money or for you to go bankrupt. I’m talking about seeking the very face of God that stirred the Macedonians to action. Not all of them, but most of them. Now, how many ministries do you know like this? How many people in the congregation do you know like this who stir other people into action? My goodness, people in the church today must have entertainment, dancing, dinners, programs, projects, and freebies before people will give.

2 Corinthians 9:3 – But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.

There is still some direction from the pastor. It doesn’t mean that, you leave the presence of Moses and then you’re on your own and that’s it. If you say you want grace, and you say you want to learn in this, there will be some direction. If you say that you want to die, and learn to hate and despise money, if you really are serious about the gospel, then without a commandment, without there being the pressure, it is a very narrow road. Nevertheless, it isn’t an urging or a directing. It is saying, “ Prove it. Put it into action. Bring it on to completion. Let’s urge one another on to good deeds.” Now, a lot of people have left here because of this particular quality. They don’t want to be urged on, the urging then becomes a commandment and a rebuke, and then the urging becomes anything but joy and grace. You can make the commandments of God extremely miserable and awful, but that is not the intention and the goal. Eventually, I do hope people like that leave. It never becomes a joy for them. But, this doesn’t mean that you just hide your head in the sand and say, “Okay, it’s between them and God and that’s it.” He is going to urge you on in this grace, also. How many people would complain if the pastor went up and urged them on to have faith and trust God? Very few. If the pastor told them that they would receive a dream, a prophecy, or the gift of tongues or the gift of knowledge, nobody would complain about that kind of urging. If they said, “Go back into the prayer closet and pray and fast and seek God for the grace, of the gift of tongues,” very few people would complain about that. But, the minute that he begins to say, “Okay, you want grace, you want God, then go in and pray about for the gift of giving,” people don’t like that. You know, the other gifts we get from God we can keep tongues, prophecy, knowledge, and wisdom and by keep I mean it can puff us up. Of course giving can do so, also. But, God is going to refine and test the heart. You’re not going to get true spiritual gifts and the true deep things of God until your giving is holy because you can’t be trusted with spiritual riches.

2 Corinthians 9:5 – So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

Again, we are reminded of the willingness and what Paul had in mind. He’s not just interested in giving. He is interested in the willingness and the heart that wants to give. Can you imagine for a moment Paul walks in and the collection was there, but he could tell on everybody’s face that there was no willingness? Would he say, “Oh, I’m glad you completed this act of grace”? He’s going to deal with the hearts and make sure they are not begrudging it, that they are willing to do it, that it is an act of love and mercy.

2 Corinthians 9:6 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly with also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously with also reap generously.

He is talking about this in the context of giving. Now, please don’t measure this in terms of dollar amounts. This doesn’t mean if a millionaire gives a million dollars that he will reap a million back. It means that if a poor old woman puts in all she has to live on she will receive more back than all the rest who put in out of their abundance. It is not the amounts that God is interested in. It is whether you give ten cents with this kind of joy. Now, think about the tremendous grace that you’re going to have the same joy in giving a dime as somebody who gives ten thousand dollars. Both are an act of God’s grace. Both will allow God to give us the joy.

2 Corinthians 9:6 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly with also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously with also reap generously.

We tie that in with Jesus saying if you can’t be trusted, who is going to give you true riches? If you can be trusted with worldly wealth, what are you going to reap generously? Righteousness. Purity. The joy that you want. The rest in God. A lot of you have given a lot of money, but I don’t know how much you have reaped in terms of righteousness. That tells me there is something wrong in the giving. The joy should be there. You are either giving for impure motives and you won’t let God purify them or you are trying to buy God off. Most of your offerings may be guilt offerings. I have no idea why, but I know God wants to purify it and he wants to give you the joy so that you are running around as a calf released from its stall jumping up and down.

2 Corinthians 9:7 – Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Hey, he loves a cheerful giverwho walked up, put his arms around you, smiled in your face, and said, “I love you,” not because of the amount, but the cheerfulness. I almost love little kid offerings better than I love some of the grownups. They carry the dime or the penny around with them all day long before church and then they run up, grab a hold of me, and say, “Here, here! I want to give it as an offering.” They have a joy! There is a purity in their hearts. Now, this next passage we don’t believe. I think we just need to mark it out of our Bible.

2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

We don’t believe it. I know that’s a problem. Every circumstance, at all times, no matter if it is tapes or tracts, whatever is done, we will have everything that we need to do the work of God. It doesn’t mean you won’t go naked or cold or hungry, you’ll just have everything you need. You’ll have the strength to be naked, cold, and hungry. It doesn’t mean that you will foolishly go out and buy and do what you want to do and then say, “Well, God will supply my needs at all times.” It is saying that whatever God calls you to do, whatever provisions he calls you to use, he will perform and work and it will be complete. If we really believe this, then what is going to begin to happen? What do you think God’s going to work maybe one time in your life? He is going to tell you to give beyond your ability. Not commanding. You asked him for it. You said you wanted to do it. He’s going to say, “Okay, give all of this away, and do so in joy.” He’s going to begin to refine the heart, and God’s going to say to you, “Now look, didn’t I tell you that at all times and every place you would have all the grace, you have everything that you need because of my grace?” We then really have to begin to lose our life.

There were times when we would be without a lot of groceries for 3 or 4 weeks, but then someone’s relatives would come to town and right before they arrived God would give us a lot of grocery money. They had no idea we’d been dying for a month. They would eat like there was no tomorrow and I would eat knowing there was tomorrow. But, it is an act of graceGod in his timing and his purpose. We’ve had people live with us before, and there would always be needs that God would meet. And, through all of that, there was a nice discipline and a good training camp. Just the other day, I sat down with my kids and they talked about needing tennis shoes and some shoelaces. I said, “We need to pray about it.” Pray about shoelaces? They pray for the missionaries. They pray for everybody overseas. They pray for people who have come and gone. They would say “Amen” and never mention the things that they’d been asking me for. It’s teaching them humility to come before God, down to shoelaces, down to the smallest of things. Learning that our God really is a father who will meet every need — maybe not in your timing and in the way that you see fit. But, do you know what God’s looking? Not for you to believe that he will meet your needs, but for a cheerful giver. Those are hard to find. I know a lot of people who believe God will meet their needs. But, I know very few cheerful givers whose life is that way. For those of you who do give and surrender all, the joy is yours. Don’t let anybody take it from you. Don’t let your sin rob it from you. It is yours. You’re able to boast about those.

2 Corinthians 9:9 – As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor…”


What gifts are we talking about? Again, one of the gifts is the gift of giving. Who are the poor but you and me?

2 Corinthians 9:9-10 – “…his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

Here Jesus says if you can be trusted with worldly wealth, he’ll give you true riches. We find Paul saying, “Look, if your joy is true, if your sincerity is pure and clean then God will increase the harvest of your righteousness.” If you can surrender before God in all of these things, no telling what God can work and bless in your life. If you have a surrender before God that gives and then God is able to pour out all of the blessings of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 9:11 – You will be made rich in every way.

This is not a prosperity doctrine where you will gain more money. You will be made rich in every way. If you don’t have food, you’ll have joy. If you have food, you’ll have joy. If you don’t have money, you’ll still have that joy and righteousness. God will give you words to speak to other people. You’ll see their hearts. You’ll be able to say to a man who is blind or is a beggar, “Silver and gold, I have none, but get up and walk and walk in the name of Jesus Christ.” In every way, you will be made rich. Do we really believe it? If we don’t believe it, why do we expect God to work it? Our giving is so mechanical. We give no thought about the very act of faith that we’re doing. We don’t surrender all and then go, “Okay, God, I just surrendered everything, now give me that gift of righteousness, make me rich in every way in Jesus Christ.” I don’t mean you are buying off God. You know better than that. I’m just talking about a life of faith before God. This is the Lord you are trusting in. “Lord, you have to meet these needs and show what your will is and demonstrate what needs to be done.”

2 Corinthians 9:11 – You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.

Do we believe it? Was not Peter generous when he said to the crippled man, “Get up and walk in the name of Jesus,” but he also said, “Gold and silver have I none.” Another time you might have gold and silver. Whether you have money or not, on every single occasion you can be generous.

2 Corinthians 9:11 – … and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

The service that you perform is not only is supplying the needs of God’s people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

2 Corinthians 9:12-13 – Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

There is nothing like an obedient people to refresh others who are obedient. Do you really want people always praying to God about your sins? Do you really want to hire me to constantly ask God, “Okay, here’s so-and-so’s sins, please deliver him.” It is just continual. Is that really what we are after? Would it not be better to be obedient and excited before the Lord then we could all go into prayer and say, “God, I thank you for their obedience. I’m refreshed about their zeal. It encourages me to persevere and to carry on.” Is that not what we want to say before God about a brother or sister? Of course it is. Then, you’re going to have to get your money and your giving straight. You’re going to have to get your heart right.

2 Corinthians 9:14 – And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

Don’t moan and whine about your sins or the most severe trial that you’re going through. How much of our praying is our hearts going out for one another? True riches! True prayer where our hearts are going out for other people, not our mechanical prayers of “Well, I haven’t prayed about anybody else today. Who can I pray about?” Instead we just enter the prayer closet and our hearts begin to speak. We begin to think of other people and we say, “Thank you, O Lord!” That’s the kind of love we should have. This is what giving money is to produce. This is winning friends so that when all of your money is gone, and it will be someday you’ll be welcomed into eternal dwellings. In Verse 15 he says it! He can’t even hold back!

2 Corinthians 9:15 – Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

We’re talking about something that is indescribable. Is our giving indescribable? Is that the kind of joy we walk with? Is that the kind of surrender we have with all of our things? Can we say, “Thanks be to God”? It is indescribable, the joy in this gift. When we pray about giving, and the title of this is “‘The Graceful Art of Giving”, we mean a tremendous act of grace. It is going to take a lot of grace to purify our hearts to have this. But, we can have it and it doesn’t have to take a half-hour. We can have it now. It is a matter of faith. It is a matter of a soft heart. Oh, yes, there is a lot of flesh to purify, welcome to the club! But, we don’t have to stay there. It can become our act of joy, and nothing can begin to distress us more than to have nothing left to give. Now, think about that to be so distressed because we’re running out of stuff to give.

Again, I’m back to talking to the pastors, and then I’m going to talk to the congregations again. Most pastors are just concerned about money and their own lives. We’re a very, very small church and everything about me doesn’t want to work in the secular world. Yet, I know pastors that have extremely large congregations who have separate jobs or devote themselves to golf and I don’t understand that. But, the nature of man is that he devotes himself to what he values the most, his own field. Nehemiah 13:10this is after revival. This is after tremendous confessing of sin. This is after the temple has been rebuilt and the wall was put up. This is after everything is completed. It is toward the end of Nehemiah, and guess where the Levites and the priests are at?

Nehemiah 13:10 – I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and singers responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields.

Obviously none of the singers and Levites bothered to go to Nehemiah, did they? Nobody seemed to be particularly too indignant that they didn’t get this money. They went back to their own fields. They were doing their own thing. They were devoted to themselves, not to Jesus Christ.

Nehemiah 13:11 – So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of God neglected?” Then I called them together and stationed them at their posts.

There is a work to be done and it is full-time work. I don’t care if you are just guarding one small section of the house, that’s where you need to be. Let every pastor consider what he needs to do, and if he thinks there isn’t enough to do, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Letting God work on you every day takes plenty of time.

Finally, this next passage is still true today, I’m afraid. There are statistics that come out about how much the people in the United States and in churches give and it is always a tremendous amount, but it’s out of abundance. It is not out of grace. You don’t see people with the kind of joy we discussed here. People will give to the most fancy promotions under pressure to give. But let men give merely because they are moved or because they are willing in heart and it’s not going to happen.

Philippians 4:14-15 – Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only.

Paul. What better missionary could you give to? Only one church, at that point in time, helped him in the matter of giving and receiving. Are you willing to set out under such circumstances? It’s not just enough to consider who you are giving to, but what if God called you to set out? Are you just going to go? That’s a whole different sermon, but it still matters. Paul set out, didn’t he? It wouldn’t have mattered if nobody gave, he set out and began to move.

Philippians 4:16-17 – …for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me the aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.

You don’t get this bank statement until you die. You don’t know whether you are overdrawn or not. How much of what you’re giving has really being credited to your account? I want you to see that account and know it is there by faith. For the joy set before us we endure the cross. We need to be able to understand without a greedy kind of faith that says I know my God has my reward. “I know the service I do if I give a cup of cold water, Jesus said, I will not lose my reward.” Our joy would increase if we realized that what we are doing has eternal significance. Our humility would increase if we realized that God was crediting our account for the little bit that we do.

Philippians 4:17-18 – Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Is that not the real test? If everyone who gave this morning in every church asked these questions, “Is it a fragrance unto God? Is it an acceptable sacrifice? Is it his grace moving in me?” Then, what radical changes would take place and what purity would be in the body of Jesus Christ. Joy would be theirs. We don’t believe Verse 19. I think we need to mark this one out, too.

Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

The man who doubts when he asks God shouldn’t think to receive anything. He is double-minded in all that he does. A lot of us don’t know this to be a reality because our faith is so little. We don’t give with faith. If it is true that God will meet all of our needs in everything we do, what does that say about surrendering our money, our time, our life, or anything for that matter? He will see to every need. If you are to be healthy in order to serve, you will be healthy. If you are to be sick to preach the gospel, you’ll be sick. If you need something, it will be there. He is able to do it.

Philippians 4:20 – To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

If our giving becomes holy, we will say that with joy. We will say that jumping up and down. Our spirits will leap for joy. We will! We will say, “The glory be to God our Father for ever and ever.” We will be enthralled with that. We will be overwhelmed with this if our giving is what it needs to be. And, we are talking about a rapturous kind of joy where you really do jump up and down with your giving and say, “Glory to God for ever and ever in all that I am doing.” Let your giving be a source of grace to you and to others. Let it be a fragrant offering unto God. Let it be an act of love. Let it bring joy to multitudes of people. With everything you have to sacrifice and every hardship you have to endure, count it as an act of joy and privilege.

Let’s go ahead and pray:

Father, we pray that you write this in our hearts, not out of commandment or law or obligation, Father, but that we might be cheerful givers before you, O God, that we might be able to say with the Holy Spirit that it might just take hold of us, Father, so we never let go of it. Just be able to say, “To you be the glory for ever and ever.” We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.

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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.