“Deep and Wide” // 2 Corinthians 8:8-15
The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, May 1, 2022 at our Crosspoint Church-Bellaire Campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.
Who do you think of when you think of someone who is generous?
I was with a couple this week having a meal and we began to discuss the Deep and Wide Generosity Initiative here, and this wife said of her husband, “He is the most generous person that I know.”
And it was with absolute conviction that she believed this about her husband. There was a twinkle in her eye when she said that about him. There was a pride…a joy that she took from this quality in her husband’s life.
I thought, “What an amazing testimony that a wife could proclaim about her husband!”
I pray that my bride sees me as generous and experiences generosity from me.
What is it to be generous? Why is this value so compelling?
First, when we see it, it’s a game-changer. It’s a relationship lifter. It’s catalytic and life-giving.
But, its often a bit hard to define. Last week, Chris mentioned Gordon MacDonald’s definition of Generosity. Let me remind you of that and then let me build upon that as well.
- McDonald: Gordon McDonald helps us with this definition.
Gordon McDonald’s Definition of Generosity
Generosity is sacrificing something of value to us for the good of another, because we love them.
This is what differentiates generosity and giving.
Giving can be done begrudgingly and devoid of life.
But the true generosity is always initiated by love.
And God is the author of generosity.
“For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”
Here, we see that God is the first and most generous giver.
Chip Ingram, in his book, The Genius of Generosity takes us back to the Hebrew and Greek of generosity to help us understand our topic today.
- In Hebrew – generosity – to saturate with water, a symbol of life. – to overflow in a way that brings life to people.
- In Greek – generosity – ready to distribute – available to give time, talent, and treasures to bless others.
“When you put all of these together you start to get a dramatic picture of a life that is overflowing with care and concern for others.”
One Presupposition that I want to challenge.
Many of you think that someone who is generous is either mega-rich or they are super-holy. So we have these images of people only with the wealth of Elon Musk or the Spiritual Resume of Mother Teresa being generous.
But here is what I believe about every single one of you: You can live your life with an overflowing care and concern for others.
When the apostle Paul is writing his letters to the church in Corinth, the people he thinks of are the believers among the churches of Macedonia… we look at the first 7 verses of their example for us last week… let’s continue on…
2 Corinthians 8:8-15
8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
As we ended our time together last week, we were challenged to “EXCEL IN THE GRACE OF GIVING.” That’s verse 7.
2 Corinthians 8:7
But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
That’s what Deep and Wide is all about…each of us taking our next step of growth.
So, let me ask, when was the last time you sought to actually grow in generosity?
You see, if I have learned anything about generosity as a value that is found in my life it’s this:
Generosity Must be Formed!
If Generosity is to be found in me, it must first be formed in me.
It must be CULTIVATED. We are to see that we excel in this gift of grace.
I want to help you take a step of growth today into deeper generosity. Here’s the principle I want you to grab hold of this morning- everyone say “more than money.”
More than Money
When we talk about biblical generosity, we are talking about more than money! Look back at vs. 5.
2 Corinthians 8:5
…and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
“they gave themselves first to the Lord.”
- It wasn’t just their money, it was their mission.
- It wasn’t just their bank account, it was their calendar.
- It wasn’t just their donation, it was their whole heart.
- It wasn’t just their words, it was their actions.
We give to God our- Time, Talent, Treasure, Touch, Tenacity.
Everybody say, “More than money!”
Let’s unpack that a bit deeper as we continue to work through the text .
Those who give themselves first to the Lord…
- Give Sacrificially
- Give With a Readiness to Completion
- Give From Their Abundance to Serve Those in Need
I. Those who give themselves first to the Lord…Give Sacrificially
Look with me at verse 9.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9
8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
- Christ is our example here. This verse is talking about the incarnation.
- This verse is NOT saying that Jesus was materially rich on earth and gave that up so we could become materially rich on earth. This is a spiritual truth!
- He is saying that by becoming a man who is God, he gave up the riches of heaven and embraced the poverty of earth in order to offer us a way to one day enter the riches of heaven.
Look at Philippians 2:7 with me for a moment.
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
One commentator put it this way…
“Christ renounced the divine fullness of power in which he dwelt with the Father, abandoned the heavenly glory which was his as the Son of God. He chose the poverty of human existence so that through his poverty he could impact eternal riches to all for whose sake he became poor.”
Jesus is our example of giving of ourselves sacrificially, as MacDonald says that generosity is, “…sacrificing something of value to us for the good of another, because we love them.”
Application: Giving sacrificially is one of the most Gospel-centered things we can do!
- This is what the Macedonian churches did- recall vs. 2
2 Corinthians 8:2
for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
You know you are giving sacrificially when it stings a little. And we are not necessarily talking about a dollar amount here! We are talking about the sacrifice made, and the time it takes, and the thoughtfulness involved.
The dollar amount does not always tell that story.
I remember when we were in our Community Group with a lot of other young families having babies. And Julee would get home from work, after working a full day, then she would make dinner – and I thought, “Wow! That looks amazing.”
She would say, “This is what we are having, but I have to run this first batch to this family first…remember, they just had a baby and it’s my turn to take them dinner.”
She was always doing that. Like all of the time!
Now, my wife can cook, y’all! And, yes, there was a monetary value to that meal. And frankly it would have been easier for her to just order take-out from a restaurant. But wasn’t her heart. She believed it showed them care and concern when she took the time to make it.
She was using her time…it took time to do this…both going to the store and then making the meal.
- She was using her talent…that girl has game…I like to eat what she makes…
- She was using her treasure…it cost money
- She was employing her special touch…
- She was using her tenacity…her willingness to see it to the end!
And she would often make this chocolate bundt cake.
And I’m like, “Hey, how come we don’t get any cake?”
And she would be like, “Hey Fat-Boy, Have you stepped on the scale lately?”
Generosity isn’t just money. It’s often more than money.
And it requires sacrifice. Inconvenience. Setting aside something of value to yourself…your time, your treasure…and using that for the sake of others.
When’s the last time you gave sacrificially and it stung a little?
- When’s the last time you gave up a Saturday to serve others instead of spending time with your hobbies or interests?
- When’s the last time you interrupted your busy schedule when it was inconvenient to go and be with someone who is hurting?
Now look at something with me for just a moment at the bottom half of the notes section on page 80. The heading says, “THE NATURE OF GIVING…”
Let’s start to fill that in together, as here is what we see from these verses.
The Nature of Giving…
- Genuine love is sacrificial.
Now, we will come back to this as we walk together this morning.
Let’s look at our second point in our outline today…
II. Those who give themselves first to the Lord… Give With a Readiness to Completion
Look at verse 10-12.
2 Corinthians 8:10-12
And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
Here’s what’s going on with these verses… apparently the Corinthian church had already made a pledge to help with relief collection for the Jerusalem saints. But now Paul calls them out and reminds them they haven’t done it yet.
Notice the phrases in the text “a year ago” and “and so now finish it!”
- NLT- “Now you should finish what you started.”
- Greek word for finish means accomplish.
Paul is saying talk is cheap, as talking doesn’t actually do anything!
Have you met people like this? All promises and no action? Or just perpetual foot dragging. Don’t be that guy!
When we commit to be a generous, we need to have a plan for how we will fulfill that commitment.
Giving requires a plan! Generosity requires intentionality!
Most of us live our lives at about 110% of our bandwidth in every area. No one wakes up on Monday morning and says wow, “I have all this extra time and money this week, what will I do with myself?!”
Being someone who gives your life away will require planning and organization. And here’s where the sacrificial part comes in… if we are going to have something to give away, it will be because we saved it on purpose.
- So, to have money to give, we must budget it. – Our Tithe is a line-item in our budget. Whatever else we decide to give to this initiative will become a line-item in our budget.
- To have time to give, we must put it on the calendar.
- To have energy to give, we must save some intentionally.
Are you being intentional with your time, talent, treasure, touch, and tenacity? You will never live a lifestyle of radical generosity by accident.
Now, let me show you something. Let’s fill in the rest of the portion on the section called The Nature of Giving. I want to fill the rest of these in with you really quickly and touch on them for just a moment.
The Nature of Giving…
- Genuine love is sacrificial.
- When we give sacrificially, it is to our benefit.
- Willingness is required to make it acceptable.
As we fill in item two there — When we give sacrificially, it is to our benefit—keep the words of Jesus in mind when He tells us, “It is better to give than to receive.”
Jesus says that giving is better! We want to be walking in the better way!
This third item is right here in verse 12. Look at verse 12 with me one more time.
2 Corinthians 8:12
For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
The willingness or readiness is required to make our gifts acceptable.
We will see in 2 Corinthians 9 in just a few short weeks that God loves a cheerful giver. He wants our willing hearts in giving. He wants us to want to give.
And then this last part of this verse that says, “…according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”
Here is the simple application: You can’t give what you don’t have.
I would love to give $1mm to this initiative. But I don’t have that to give.
The liberating thing found here is that the acceptable gift to God is from what you have and your willingness to give it to him…not from what you don’t have.
God is not asking you to give from what you don’t have…on this card when you are thinking about what you will give, He isn’t asking you to give from someone else’s situation. He wants you to give from what He has entrusted to you.
And that leads me to our third point today…
III. Those who give themselves firs to the Lord…Give from their Abundance to Serve those in Need.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
These verses give most people a little sigh of relief here. Paul is saying, “I want to be fair here. I am not trying to overburden anyone. (vs. 13)”
And he is saying to this large church in Corinth, “You are not going through a famine, but the saints in Jerusalem are! (vs. 14). So, guys, there is a time to help, and a time to be helped. There is a time when you have it to give, and a time when you need someone to share.”
So, what season are you in right now? For some of you, maybe you’re in a season of plenty and now is your time to be a radically generous giver.
Additionally, Paul is saying, “Let me give you a Kingdom economics principle- those who abound are to serve those in need.” And he quotes a portion of Exodus 16.
And when we do this, it is to our benefit, as it frees us.
Let me show you what I mean
● He is actually quoting here from Exodus 16 where Israel is in the wilderness and begin to receive Manna from heaven.
● God’s instructions were simple- take what you need, share what you don’t!
● And when they obeyed God in this, they were satisfied, when they tried to keep too much they were sickened.
● This same principle applies today! Our problem is that enough is never enough. The bible calls this greed, and covetousness, and lust.
● Are we living this way? Or, are we thinking about generosity when counting our surpluses? Are we concerned with those who don’t have enough?
The truth is that if you drove a car here today and you woke up in a house with electricity and running clean water and a toilet that flushes and if you have any food in your pantry and you have any cash money at all and you have any savings at all, and you have a means to educate your children and you are not worried about your basic needs for tomorrow, then you are richer than the vast majority of the world’s population.
And to whom much is given much is required!
- Our situation on this planet cries out for our generosity. We have been blessed to be a blessing, so that those who abound can serve those in need, and the wholeness of God, the peace of God, and the Shalom of God might reign in our lives, homes, and communities.