“CHEERFUL” 2 Cor. 9:6-15
INTRO – Starting a series for the month of March on giving. Tried to come up w/ a catchy name for the series. But this is all I could come up with: “C.C.C.C.” It’s going to be a 4-sermon series & each message title will be one word that starts w/ a “C.” Today, the word is “Cheerful.”
Sometimes folks get a little antsy & nervous about the preacher preaching on money, even though Jesus talked about it all the time.
- Out of 38 parables He told, 16 of them were about how to handle money & possessions.
- In the Gospels, an amazing 1 out of every 10 verse deals w/ money – 288 verses in all.
- And when you look at the entire scope of the Bible, there are about 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but over 2,000 verses on money & possessions.
But even with all that background, some folks still get concerned about the preacher preaching on money. So let me make some promises to you as we start this series.
- I’m not going to bash you – not going to attack you, or lambast you.
- …berate you – not going to scold you, or chide you.
- …belittle you – not going to criticize you, or bad-mouth you.
- …beleaguer you – not going to badger you, or harass you, or exasperate you.
We are simply going to share foundational biblical truths & let the Holy Spirit do His job in each of our lives. In talking about money, Dennis Rainey said this: “God owns it all and [you] are stewards of His resources… Because you are stewards of the resources God has entrusted to you, every financial decision you make is actually a spiritual decision.”
So, let’s talk about the first word that it connected to our giving: the word “cheerful.”
(Show card & $4 tithe) – Got this in mail this past week from one of our church members. Don’t normally know what people give – I don’t check members’ giving records. But occasionally someone will give me their tithe (please don’t!), or, like this, it comes in mail. I just had to show this one to you. This person on very limited income, dealing w/ lots of issues in their life. Could very easily say, “My little $4 tithe won’t make any difference. They won’t even miss it down there at the church.” But instead, she cheerfully sent it in. And I can tell you that this person truly is a “CHEERFUL” CHILD OF GOD!
So, how can we each be a cheerful child of God who is a cheerful giver?
DON’T GIVE BEGRUDGINGLY – v. 7a – The Greek word for “cheerful” means “without grudging.” It means we don’t have a reluctant heart, or an unwilling spirit. One writer said, “There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving, and thanksgiving. Grudge giving says, ‘I have to’; duty giving says, ‘I ought to’; thanksgiving says, ‘I want to’” (Robert Rodenmeyer).
B/c money is such a big part of our lives & affects so many of the decisions we make, it is often a strong source of spiritual warfare in our lives. Much of the marriage strife & conflict we have is connected to our finances. Churches argue & sometimes split over financial decisions. Ministry programs & mission projects suffer & sometimes have to be scaled back, or even cancelled due to financial issues. And our begrudging hearts is one major cause to many of these problems.
If you find yourself giving in a sense of reluctance & negativity, ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to show you why you’re struggling w/ a begrudging heart. And then when He shows you why, confess it to Him, accept His forgiveness, repent of it, & begin giving to the Lord in the way we find in our next point:
GIVE HAPPILY – v. 7b – That Greek word for “cheerful” not only means “without grudging” – it also means “happy.” How many of you like to be happy? How many of you enjoy being happy? Crazy question, I know, but in the area of giving, we can & should be happy. And a happy giver is the kind of giver that the Lord loves. Sure, He’ll take the money that a reluctant giver gives & use it for His K’dom work. But He sure does love it when we give happily.
Story of a mother who wanted to teach her daughter a lesson in giving. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church “Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. “Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.”
I think a lot of us have had that thought from time to time. But that’s not what a true “happy” giver looks like. A happy giver is one who:
- Knows that God is watching over his/her life & will provide for every need we have.
- Gives to help others who are in need, knowing that God will bless their giving.
- Psalm 41:1 – “Happy is the man who cares for the poor. The Lord will save him in times of trouble. The Lord will keep him alive & safe.”
- Isaiah 58:10-11 – “Feed the hungry, & help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, & the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry & restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
- Knows that there’s no need to worry – Mt. 6:31-33 – “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
- Knows that God cares deeply about His children – Lk. 12:6-7 – “What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Not much more than that. Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And he knows the number of hairs on your head! Never fear, you are far more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.”
GIVE B/C GOD IS SO AWESOME! – v. 8-9 – Rich Mullins wrote the song back in 1988. And its truth still rings loud & strong today & every day – OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD! Look at what v. 8 tells us about what our God will do in our lives b/c He’s such an awesome God:
- He gives us amazing grace! He has saved us by His grace, & He keeps us by His grace! His grace is what we need to grow spiritually. And He makes that grace “abound” to us – that means we will have an ABUNDANCE OF GRACE IN OUR LIVES!
- He gives us abundant sufficiency! That means that, through Jesus Christ, we will have the adequate means to meet whatever comes at us in our lives!
- He gives us astounding righteousness! Through faith in Christ, we are given the righteousness of Christ that transforms our lives & leads us to live in sincere obedience to the Lord!
GIVE B/C OF WHAT WE’VE BEEN GIVEN – v. 15 – This verse almost seems out of place here at the end of this chapter. But when you consider all that Jesus has done for us, sometimes you just can’t help yourself. You just have to break out in praise to Him, like Paul did here!
When we truly consider the “inexpressible gift” that we’ve been given through Jesus Christ, our giving will be transformed. Jesus’ never gave begrudgingly!
- Jesus didn’t grudgingly help & heal those in need while He was here on earth.
- Jesus didn’t grudgingly go to the cross to pay the price for our sins.
- Jesus didn’t grudgingly send the Holy Spirit to us to be our Comforter, Strength, Guide, & Teacher.
- Jesus doesn’t grudgingly intercede for us right now at the throne of God.
He gave all for us, & His call on our lives is for us to follow His example & give everything we have & everything we are to Him.