You know you are generous when…

In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul encourage the Corinthian Christians and us  to grow in God’s grace by giving more to gospel ministry and by being generous to Christians in need.  It is so informing that the Apostle views financial generosity as a demonstration, display and expression of the grace of God!

 Paul reminds the Corinthians of the grace-filled generosity of the Macedonian churches as he collected money for the struggling church in Jerusalem.  So, how do you know if you are generous?

 

1. You give even though you don’t have much

Verses 2-3 say, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.  For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.

 The Macedonian churches were struggling because of persecution and poverty, and yet they were generous.  They gave according to their ability and even contrary to their ability!

 

2. You view giving as a privilege

Verses 3-4 say,, “Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.

 Paul was not going to ask them to give as they were desperately poor themselves.  However, when they heard of Paul’s fund raising project they begged Paul to allow them the grand privilege of giving to gospel ministry.

 

3. You’ve given yourself to God first  

Verse 5 says, “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.”

 The Macedonians first surrendered themselves to Jesus and then, out of their devotion to Jesus, gave generously.

 

4. You give more than you gave last year

In verse 7 Paul has this to say to the Corinthian Christians, “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 this grace of giving.”

 Giving is connected to our sanctification (our becoming more like Jesus).  Paul expects Christians to grow and excel in financial generosity as much as they do in other areas of their Christian life.

 

5.  You give because Jesus was generous to you

In verses 8-9 Paul gives the supreme motivation for given, “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.   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.”

 Christians don’t give because they feel guilty to give or are manipulated to give.  Christians are generous because Jesus was generous to them.  God the Son, who is rich beyond our imagination, assumed poverty so that we could become eternally rich and share in his wealth.  Because Jesus humbled himself and became a man who was willing to die, we can be forgiven and cleaned and restored.  No-one was richer than Jesus and no-ne became poorer than Jesus.

 

6. You give to meet the needs of your church and other Christians

Verse 13 says, “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.”

Paul is not promoting communism, but community.  He desires, as should we, that everyone’s needs are met.  Jesus has promised to supply the needs of his children and they way he normally does that it through the generosity of his people (see v15!).

Death is sleep

In Mark 5 Jesus raises Jairus’ dead daughter to life.  A little while before Jairus, a synagogue ruler, approached Jesus, the itinerant preacher, for help.  The request was highly irregular:  Jairus was a respected, honourable man in that culture.  Yet, he falls (quite unceremoniously) at the feet of a homeless, poor, miracle worker’s feet and begs Jesus to heal his desperately ill daughter.  Jesus agrees to go with Jairus to his house.

On the way they hear that the girl has died.  Jesus surprisingly says that she isn’t dead, but only sleeping.  Why did Jesus say that? Was he mistaken? 

Jesus wanted to make a point about death.  Human beings view death as permanent and sleep as temporary.  You go to sleep expecting to wake up.  You anticipate being alive the next day.  Death is the opposite. It’s permanent. No anticipation. No expectation. You’re dead.

 

 Next Jesus goes into the girl’s room and takes her by the hand. This was a controversial act as Jewish law said that a corpse was ceremonially unclean and anyone touching a corpse became unclean.  Jesus then says, “Little girl, I tell you, get up”.  As we see throughout Mark 4-5, creation must obey it creator.  The storm must quiet down, the legion of demons must leave and the little girl must become alive again.   Mark wants us to understand that Jesus is not a spiritual teacher, but God with us, in the person of his Son, Jesus.  Jesus is God.  All other views about Jesus are blasphemous.

One of the learnings from this account is that death to Jesus and to the Christian is sleep.  Death is not the end and it’s not permanent.  It is temporary and transitory.  Jesus died and rose again on the third day destroying the power of death over his people.  When we finally lay down our heads it is in the expectation and anticipation of being in the presence of Jesus.  We remember that Jesus said to the dying man next to him on the cross: Today, you will be with me in paradise.