READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l We cannot surrender all on our own strength. That is why the biblical understanding is that it is the grace of God that we give. This discipleship principle is captured in today’s passage.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthian churches this – since you excel in everything (faith, speech, knowledge and love) see that you also excel in the grace of giving. Grace is an undeserved favour/a gift from God. In giving, we need God’s grace to be able to do so.
What is the Grace of Giving? — Characteristics and application points
(1) Privilege and not obligation. The grace of giving is never about fulfilling an obligation. The Macedonian churches considered it a privilege to do God’s work in serving the needs of others. (v4) To be able to give is God’s grace to us. It is a privilege and accomplishes the purposes of God.
The first application point is to give purposefully. Whoever sows generously, will also reap generously. (2 Cor 9:6) It is not an investment to reap a financial harvest for ourselves; but to reap a spiritual harvest for the kingdom of God. It is the Lord who makes the harvest a reality. All He wants is our faithfulness to count it a privilege to give.
(2) Excellence of attitude and not just the amount. The grace of giving is a grateful response to God’s grace and blessings upon us. We give only because He first gave. Therefore we offer our very best attitude in giving, instead of just the largeness of amount. The Macedonian churches gave out of overflowing joy (v2), on their own initiative (v3) and with eager willingness (v11). Let the excellence of our attitude guide the way we give.
The application point is to give thankfully, such that gratitude is the posture of our hearts. The Lord will bless and give us everything we need, so that we abound in every good work. The Lord looks at our heart when we give, and not the amount. Jesus commended the poor widow who gave from the little that she had, but was not impressed with the large gifts of the rich because they had much left over. (Mark 12: 41-44) Let’s give to the Lord a loving and thankful response for all that He has done for us.
(3) Disciplined and not haphazard. While we may be willing to give, we must see it to completion, according to our means. (v11)
The application point is to give systematically. In the Old Testament, a tithe was to be set apart for God. (Lev 27: 30) It was a mandatory system of accountability and commitment. Today, we are no longer under the law. We exercise the grace of giving, not randomly, but by pledging. The pledge is an expression of an individual, methodical, regular, and systematic commitment to give from one’s income as a posture of faith and trust in God to provide. (1 Cor 16: 2)
(4) Generosity beyond expectation. The Macedonian churches gave in the midst of a great ordeal and poverty. They gave generously even though they did not have much. (v2-3) Such generosity is only possible when we appreciate the generosity of our Lord Jesus. Today, we are not bound under Mosaic Law, but we are under the law of Christ in a New Covenant. Our giving is understood through the grace of Christ who emptied Himself, went to the cross in spiritual poverty to enable us to be rich in the redemptive love and grace of God. (v9) The radical generosity and grace of God compels us to be generous in the grace of giving.
The application point is to give sacrificially. Not leftovers that cost us little, but the best of what we have. (2 Sam 24:24) Our giving should be costly and should stretch our faith every year. The Lord knows and delights in your costly sacrifice. Our giving can be a treasure check – for where your treasure is, there your heart will be. (Matt 6:21) Our lifestyles should also enable us to give and not hinder our giving. Sometimes we may need to simplify our lifestyles and set aside what we can, so that we can give sacrificially when the situation demands.
Giving purposefully, thankfully, systematically and sacrificially are the marks of a growing disciple. Our pledging can be a journey of trust and surrender. God will provide for our every need. While Wesley is a rich church, we are richly blessed so that we can bless others and reach out to the world for Christ. We are privileged to be a blessing to others and bring all glory to God!
Let us excel in the grace of giving. When we focus on ourselves, it is impossible to surrender all. But when we realize that God gave everything for us, then by His faith and grace we will want to surrender all and take the next step to just surrender a little more.
(Sermon notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What is the grace of giving? What are the 4 key characteristics of such grace?
- The message highlighted 4 practical applications of this grace. Which spoke to you and why?
- How can you excel in the grace of giving? How is God inviting you to respond to His Word?
- Have you pledged? Whether you have or not, what is God saying to you about trusting Him to provide?
- Commit your finances and needs to the Lord in prayer, that you will grow in trust and surrender to His provision and be a good steward of His grace of giving.