Description / Transcription
Father in heaven, speak to us clearly and by Your grace give us ears that we may hear and listen and be changed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Our scripture passage this morning comes from 2 Corinthians chapter 8. Here’s what we’re doing for the next six weeks or so. We’re taking a break from Genesis, Lord willing we’ll come back in the New Year and I’m laying out that plan and hoping to finish Genesis in the first half of next year, or at least by the end of the summer.
We’re taking a little break to do 2 Corinthians. We’ve been doing 2 Corinthians for several months in the evening and now we’re going to try to finish up that series by doing evening and now morning with 2 Corinthians.
So if you’ve been in the evening, this is where we left off, after chapter 7, and if not, it’s quite all right and you can pick up right where we are with chapter 8. And, yes, I admit, part of the rationale for having this in the morning is we have several sermons on generosity. I’m not above wanting to preach sermons on generosity because it’s in God’s Word.
And as you’ll hear me say throughout this little mini-series within a series, the point of biblical generosity is not so much that God needs to receive from us as it is that we are blessed as we give to Him and to His work. And I’ve been here for four and a half years, I don’t, I can’t recall preaching a single sermon on Sunday morning about giving or generosity, so as we come to it in our text from 2 Corinthians, follow along as I read in these first seven verses.
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 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. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 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.”
Let me start with some good news and some bad news on the state of giving in America. Here’s the good news. The World Giving Index, an agency based in the UK, has consistently ranked the United States as the most generous country in the world. As a fraction of income, Americans donate over 2-1/2 times as much as Britons do, more than 8 times as much as Germans, and 12 times the rate of Japanese. According to one recent estimate, private donations in the United States are roughly the amount of the entire GDP of Sweden.
Voluntary giving to the overseas poor, for example, from the United States, private overseas donations totals $44 billion, which is more than the $33 billion of official aid distributed by the US government. Private donations give more to overseas aid than the US government.
Relatively speaking, the United States is a generous country. And in the United States, the most generous people by far are religious people. Giving to religion, which is defined as giving to a congregation, a denomination, a missionary society, religious media, etc., has consistently remained America’s single largest recipient of charitable giving. Of the top 50 charities in the United States, 40 of them are faith-based.
According to the Lilly School at Indiana University, Americans with religious affiliation give more than twice as much to charity each year as those with no religious affiliation. Now someone might say, “Well, of course they do because they belong to churches and so they just give money to churches. It’s like giving money to themselves.” And yet the difference is not just that religious people give to their churches, or to mosques or synagogues, religious people are actually more likely to give to non-religious causes than non-religious people. Two-thirds of people who worship at least twice a month give to secular causes, while less than half of non-church attenders do, and the average gift by the church attender to even secular causes is much bigger.
If we measure giving by more than money, than religious Americans are even more impressive. Religious Americans adopt children at 2-1/2 times the national rate. Local churches provide most of the day-to-day help in resettling refugees. Volunteers in prisons are overwhelmingly Christians.
In one survey of a number of leading cities in the country, 58% of emergency shelter beds were maintained by religious groups. Local churches provide 130,000 alcohol recovery programs, 120,000 programs to assist the unemployed. According to one study, all told religious activity contributes over $1 trillion of socio-economic value to the United States’ economy.
So there is much to celebrate. Compared to others, we live in a generous country and Christians are the most generous people in the country.
But there’s bad news as well. Before we pat ourselves on the back, depending on the study you look at, Christians in this country give, there’s too many of us to have you shout out answers, but just get a number in your head. What do you think would be the average percentage of income, after-tax income, that Christians would give to charity? Charity meaning church, religious/non-religious, just charity. You got a number in your head? The average percent is 3, 3%. By some studies it’s closer to 2%, it’s right between 2 and 3%. This number has held steady for many years. In fact, the number, the percentage, rather, was slightly larger during the Great Depression as a percentage of income that it is now.
So we can’t say, “Well, if we just had more money, we’d give a higher percentage of it away.” On average, that has not been true.
And the mean is 3%, the median, remember in your math class, the median is this many at this amount, this many at this amount, and what number falls in the middle rather than average, the mean is 3%, but the median is less than 1%, which means the mean is being pulled up by a whole lot of people at the top end who are giving way more than 3%, that actually the majority of people are giving less than 0.62%. These are Christians giving to charitable causes.
According to one study, 20% of American Christians give nothing. Zero dollars to church, para-church, or charities of any kind. Another study estimates 12% of Protestants tithe, only 12% given 10%, and higher income Christians do not give at a higher percentage than lower income earning Christians.
According to a 2008 book called Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don’t Give Away More Money, they estimate if 90% of committed American Christians, so that’s probably people like you because you’re in church today, if 90% of committed American Christians gave at least a tithe, at least 10%, allowing that 10% of the people are too strapped, they don’t do that, and a small percentage of the less committed gave 5% of their after-tax income, if you put that all together, giving by American Christians would increase by $133 billion dollars per year. That’s increase. Not total, but just increase, if committed Christians tithed and less committed Christians even gave 5%.
So if you ask the question, “Are we a generous people?” the answer is “it depends.” Compared to other countries, yes. Compared to other people, probably. Compared to the standard of 10%, let alone compare to giving sacrificially? Likely not.
Here’s my simple definition of Christian generosity: Christian generosity is the spiritual discipline of having holes in your pockets for Jesus.
It’s a spiritual discipline, we’re going to talk about this over these next few weeks. One of the reasons people don’t give more is they think that if they just rely on their heart they’ll give more. Well, it does take some discipline. It takes some planning. It takes envelopes or a giving system or automatic deposit. If you just say in your heart, “Well, I’m just feeling really generous today and I write a check,” and then you know when you feel really generous and do that the next time? Mmm, next Christmas. It’s a spiritual discipline of having holes in your pocket. In other words, letting things slip through, not hoarding, but freely giving away for the cause of Christ.
Generosity is the opposite… Do they still have that TV show “Hoarders”? That’s just like an OCD nightmare, just watching that thing, and people who just, they can’t get rid of anything. Generosity is the opposite of hoarding.
Here’s where we’re going in the next four weeks, in chapter 8 and 9. First, this morning, and our time, I realize, is short, we are looking at the character of generosity. That is, we are trying to answer the question what does generous giving look like? And the answer is it looks like joy, sacrifice, and grace. We’ll come to that.
Next week, the motivation for generosity, and here the question will be, “Why do we give?” Week three, the administration of generosity. The question, “How do we handle the giving of God’s people?” And week four, the blessing of generosity, “What happens when we give?”
So four big questions over these four weeks: What does giving look like, why do we give, how do we handle the giving of God’s people, and what happens when we give?
So this morning the character of generosity. What does generous giving look like? I have three words from our text: Joy, sacrifice, and grace.
First of all then, generous giving has the look of joy. Here’s what’s going on in the background. There’s a famine in Jerusalem and Paul is collecting money for the saints. There are a number of allusions to this collection in the New Testament. It appears that collecting relief for the saints in Jerusalem was a major activity for the Apostle Paul in the mid-50s AD.
If you keep your finger there in 2 Corinthians 8, go over to 1 Corinthians chapter 16 and look at verse 1. 1 Corinthians 16, verse 1: “Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem.”
So here in chapter 16,1 Corinthians, he’s talking about the collection for the saints in Jerusalem.
In Romans 15, Paul is talking about his plans to visit Rome and he says, “At present I am going to Jerusalem, bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make contributions for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.”
Paul commended the church in Philippi, so Philippi is a city in the region of Macedonia, Corinth is a city in the region of Achaia. He said in Philippians 4:15: “You Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.”
Macedonia was a powerful example of generosity, and so what Paul wants is for the churches in Achaia, like Corinth, to imitate their example of generosity.
Turn over one chapter, chapter 9, verse 2, he says: “For I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year.”
This is not some worldly strategy on Paul’s part. It’s very appropriate. He is using Macedonia and Achaia. He’s saying to the Macedonians, stirring them up, “Achaia has been eager to give.” And here what he does in chapter 8 is he says, “Look at the Macedonians. They have been giving out of even their poverty. They were joyful givers.” So he’s holding up the example of the Macedonians, like Philippi, to the Achaians, like Corinth.
So look at chapter 8, verse 2: “For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy… has overflowed.” This has been a happy occasion.
Some pastors don’t like to preach about giving, or generosity, or stewardship, because it feels self-serving or trying to wring out the fleece for more money, but you all are, this church has for many years been a strong giving, generous church. And I’m happy to preach about giving. Why? Because it’s in the Bible, and two, because giving makes you happy. God wants you to be happy. The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver, so I shouldn’t give if I’m not cheerful. No, you should keep giving until you get happy about it. [laughter]
The Macedonians were overflowing with joy. It’s the difference between telling your kids, “Go pick up your toys,” as we sometimes say in our house, “All right, all aboard the cleaning train. We need everybody aboard the cleaning train,” and it’s amazing how much they scatter, “I’ve got homework, I’ve got stuff to do, I need to go to the homeless shelter,” something other than this. [laughter] That’s one response, versus “Who wants to come to the table for dessert?” Suddenly there’s a very different response. You don’t have to coax them. Why? Because they’re coming with great joy.
Look at what it says about the Macedonians. This is amazing. Verse 4: They begged us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.
They didn’t have to be cajoled. It didn’t take a special visit from the fundraising chair. They were begging.
Now I’ve seen this in the church. It tends to happen when there’s a hurricane, a natural disaster. Lots of people saying, “When can I give? How can I give? I want to help these people.” Or if they hear that there’s a need in the congregation, “Is there something that I can do?” And you’re to be commended for that.
Of course, Paul is talking most immediately about this famine relief in Jerusalem, but the same sort of principles apply for supporting God’s work in the church, supporting God’s work in caring for the poor, supporting God’s work in missionaries, evangelism, schools, church planting. So even though this is specifically about relief for the famine in Jerusalem, there is application for supporting God’s work and spreading God’s love in all sorts of ways.
How do you feel when you have to part with your money? Some of us part with our money like first-time parents dropping off their kids at the nursery. Those of you who work in the nursery, you can tell first-time parents, long-time parents. First-time parents, “I don’t know if I can let, I don’t know, is she going to be okay? It’s an hour and a half, she needs her binky, she needs graham crackers, she needs essential oils, she needs all of it, okay? Can you just help her?” and you’re sort of peeking around the corner, “Do I hear crying?” It’s very hard. You get to multiple children, and it’s, “See you next Sunday. [laughter] Can we get a date? Can we, do you go from the morning to the evening service?”
Happy, what joy to give you the blessing of watching my children. Let’s be people who love to give like those parents.
When’s the last time you’ve asked somebody, “How can I give? How can I support this work?”
What does it say about your heart if you experience no joy in giving? Do you think, do I think that our possessions actually belong to us? Of course they don’t. Do you not find delight in helping others? Especially fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you have no zeal for world evangelization? No heart for church planting? No compassion for the hungry? You have no joy in giving?
This was a great thing that a family in my home church when I was growing up, and I went off to seminary, out of the blue did this for one year. This family said, “We want to bless you while you’re in seminary, and each month we’re going to send you a check for $200” and what was [sound effect] $200. But here’s what he said, “We want you to do something fun with this that involves other people.” In other words, don’t just go and buy groceries, okay, we’ll figure that out, you can live on ramen or something a quarter a day.
What a joy I had. I mean, I was the big spender. What a sugar daddy. I got $200 every month. And so a friend of mine, we’d go out for pizza, and I could say, “You know what? I’ll pick up the tab.” “What happened to you?” “Well, I’ve just been praying a lot.” No, I’d say, “I have this great,” [laughter] I didn’t lie, I said, “This family gave me this money.” Well, then they were happy to have me spend their money. It was a joy, and then I started looking, and you know sometimes it would be something in the church, and you know, $200 wasn’t going to build the sanctuary, but what a joy it was to have my eyes open. What am I going to do with this money? Because in a way, I understood it wasn’t my money. It came to me as a gift, and what a joy it was to share it with other people.
We ought to set aside a portion for our church, I would say 10%, I’m not going to do this sermon on tithing. Even if you’re not convinced that tithing is a New Testament idea, at the very least wouldn’t you, wouldn’t you want to give more than the poorest Israelite, who never knew the cross of Christ gave? Even if you say, “Well, I’m not convinced, that’s an Old Testament idea, it’s not New Testament.” Okay, there’s a theological discussion about that, but really? We who live in the richest country in the richest time wouldn’t want to give more, a higher percentage of our income, than the poorest Israelite, who never had the privileges and never knew Christ the way that we know Christ? That’s unfathomable. And actually, if you add up all of the Old Testament tithes, it was probably around 22 or 23%. You can say some of that actually was kind of like taxes for the running of the society, and that’s true, but would we want to give less than that?
So I say you set aside 10%. Not as a ceiling but as a floor. And then set aside at least some other amount for other projects; missionaries, schools, scholarships, clean water, hunger, Covenant Day School, Covenant College, and other Christian college, a rescue mission, literacy, disaster relief, humanitarian aid, repair projects, a Capital campaign, debt reduction, Internet ministry, radio ministry, training pastors, Ridge Haven camp, conferences, retreats. There are so many ways. Where do you find your heart saying, “If only I could contribute to this”?
And you know, one of the geniuses of Jesus when He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” it doesn’t just mean that your treasure follows your heart, it means your heart follows your treasure. Once you start giving to something, your heart starts going there. If you say, “I want to care more about things in the world. How do I get that?” Well, start giving some money and your heart will follow.
There was a joy in their generosity. What a blessing it would be, not only to others, but to you if you set aside some money each month and you said, “This is going to be money and we’re just going to be on the lookout for how we can bless someone.” Maybe for some of you it’s several hundred dollars, other people it might be $75, it might be $10, but you say, “I’m going to be available to respond to a need.” And maybe it is a missionary, maybe it is a fundraising letter or a school, or maybe it’s simply someone that you want to encourage and you want to anonymously send them some money, and you don’t even get a tax break for it. It’s allowed to give money and not get a tax break for it.
It actually is great fun to be able to give away money and serve and be generous and joyful. Generous giving has the look of joy.
Number two. Generous giving has the look of sacrifice.
Notice the Macedonians, verse 2, gave out of abundant joy and, in their case, extreme poverty. They did not give out of their surplus. It was not the Christmas bonus, the stimulus check, the tax refund, the rainy day fund. It was out of their poverty. Severe affliction.
Macedonia was otherwise a prosperous province, but they were suffering affliction, and so they gave, you read Paul, according to their means, verse 3, and beyond their means.
So all of us ought to give according to our means. That’s why a percentage is so helpful. God understands that some people relative to others are very rich and some people are very poor and everything in between, and we have lots of in-between in this church. So you give according to your means. That’s faithful, that’s good, that’s pleasing to God.
But at times, you will be stirred and you will have the gift to give beyond your means, and that’s what the Macedonians did. They gave not out of their wealth, but out of their poverty. They gave more than could have been expected. They gave to the point where people said, “I’m not sure you’re really being smart about this.”
I admit, I give out of my means, very, very rarely in a way that would be beyond, ways that people would say, “Well, Pastor, you’re being utterly reckless.” But are we open to that? How the Lord might call us to trust Him, not just to give out of our surplus, but out of our lack?
Here’s the fundamental reality in the New Testament: Generosity is not measured by what the gift costs, but by what it costs to the giver. Generosity is not measured by what the gift costs, but by what the cost is to the giver.
That’s why Jesus holds out as His example of generosity the woman, the widow who last gave her last two copper coins. It wasn’t putting a roof on the building, but it was out of her poverty. She gave all that she had. That was the measure of generosity.
Now the point is not that we have to trade places with the poor, or that we all have to be destitute and persecuted in order to give in a way that is pleasing to God, but it’s worth considering: Does your level of giving necessitate any kind of sacrifice? Does my level of giving necessitate any kind of sacrifice? Even if it’s not extreme poverty, as the Macedonians. Does our level of giving necessitate any sacrifice? Less house than you could have? Less car? Less of a vacation? Who gives God more glory? The person who takes care of himself first and gives to God what’s left over, or the person who gives to God first and then after deciding what he gives to God, allows that to dictate, even if it means a lower standard of living? Which way of living makes God look like a precious treasure?
What’s important is the Old Testament phrase: First fruits. You give your first fruits. You say, “God, this is Yours.”
I’m so glad my parents instilled this in me. You know, back when baby-sitters made $2 an hour. Okay, you made $2 or you mowed the lawn and you got $2. Twenty cents goes in the offering plate. “Mom, it’s 2, 20… ” “Do it. It’s good. It’ll serve you well.” Oh, she said it in a nice way, she’s my mom.
But training us, the first fruits, whatever you get, God gets what is first and what is best. And after that, almost everyone in this room has super immeasurably more left for ourselves. Very few of us are going to be on the level of sacrificial giving like these Macedonians were, and yet all of us can think about how do we give God what is first and what is best, rather than some of us have a sort of garage sale mentality: “Okay, God, it’s time to give. Um. Let’s see, what’s here in the garage I’m not using. Maybe other people want to pay money for the junk that I’m about ready to throw away.”
That’s how some of us think when it comes to God. I got something left over and if there’s a little bit, I’m happy to give some to God, rather than starting with the commitment to generosity first.
This means no matter how little you make, you’re on a fixed income, you’re a college student, you’re a seminary student, if you have some money coming in, you should have some money coming out.
You maybe say, “Well, it doesn’t make any difference. The church is not going, it’s not going to make any difference my $20.” Well, that may be true, but it makes a difference in your heart.
Calvin says, “What makes us more close-handed than we ought to be is when we look too carefully, too far forward in contemplating the dangers that may occur, when we are excessively cautious and careful, when we calculate too narrowly what we will require during our whole life or, in fine, how much we lose when the smallest portion is taken away.”
Of course, there are proverbs about look to the ant and how he works and stores away, and so saving is good and being responsible with investments is wise, and yet we can be so cautious that we’re afraid that we might out-give God. You won’t out-give God.
Generosity has the look of joy, of sacrifice, and finally, of grace.
We’ll see this throughout chapters 8 and 9. Grace is the key word in these two chapters. That’s why I love to preach on giving. Because one way to preach on giving is, everybody for four weeks in a row, you need to leave here and heads hanging low, tail between your legs, bad dog, and I can’t believe I pay for Netflix subscription and don’t let Pastor see me drive this car out. That doesn’t, that doesn’t serve. You know, that sort of guilt trip, that sort of just twisting your will, it lasts for a few weeks, a couple months.
But grace lasts a lifetime. This is meant to show you how much grace God has given to us and therefore how much grace God can give through us. It’s the key word and it’s worth noting, the key word in these two chapter is not command, duty, guilt, stewardship, financial planning, law. Those words all have their place.
But it’s grace. It occurs 10 times in these two chapters. Chapter 8, verse 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 16, 19. Chapter 9, verse 8, 14, and 15. Look at four times in this morning’s passage we have the word “grace,” the Greek word “charis.”
Look at verse 1: We want you to know about the grace of God that has been given.
Look at verse 4: Begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. You see a little footnote there with “favor,” the Greek word “charis” means favor or grace. Same word as in verse 1, charis, grace, favor.
Look at verse 6: Accordingly, we urge Titus that as he has started, so he should complete among you this act of grace.
And then again in verse 7: As you excel in everything, see that you also excel in this at of grace.
Romans 12 says, “having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. If prophecy, in proportion to our faith. If service, in our serving. The one who teaches, in his teaching. The one who exhorts, in his exhortation. The one who contributes, in his generosity.”
So this is true with most of the gifts in the New Testament. Gifts are on the one hand what some people have in a special way, and yet they’re what all of us Christians aspire to be. So it’s true. Some of you will have a special gift of giving. Perhaps because God has blessed you with a lot to give away, you have a special heart, it’s what you do, it’s what you love. Some of you will have that as a special gift, and that’s great.
What Paul says here in verse 7 is I want all of you to stir that up, that you might grow in that same gift.
You notice what Paul says? Corinthians, you excel in a lot of things; faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, love. That’s great. Here’s another thing I want you to excel in. Verse 7. The act of grace.
See, Paul was concerned that the giving had stalled, that they hadn’t delivered on the promise from 1 Corinthians chapter 16. Paul sent Titus to resume the collection, that’s what we read in verse 6: We urge Titus that as he had started so he should complete among you this act of grace. Okay, Titus is going to come back and let’s finish this good thing that we started together.
The Macedonians, with all of their poverty and affliction, were still outward facing. The Corinthians, the Achaians here on the other hand, had started to look inward.
Remember 1 Corinthians? So much of that book is about gifts. The Corinthians were into tongues and prophecy and speech and revelations and the gift that could wow people in the assembly. And that’s why Paul says here in 2 Corinthians 8, okay, you have a lot of gifts, Corinthians. You do a lot of things. But don’t neglect this. Let’s not just be about the gifts that show themselves in our midst. Let’s be about the gifts that look outside of our midst.
We want to be a church, I know we do, that excels also in the gift of giving. We want to be a church not just for ourselves, yes, the church has needs and ministries, but one of the things we’ve been committed to over these last years is every year that our church budget grows, our missions budget should grow. And I hope and pray that that will grow not just in dollar amount but as a percentage of our budget. I truly believe that the Lord blesses the church that is eager to give its resources away and so show not just on an individual level but on a church-wide level that we cannot out-give God.
So we should have the enviable position of each year thinking what new missionaries can we support? Where can we look at church planting? What new ministries can we be about? How can we see the Gospel spread here in Charlotte and in our denomination and to the nations?
Why? Because it’s grace. That’s the operative word in these two chapters, and we’ll come back to it time and time again. And I wonder if that’s how you look at your possessions, how I look at mine. When you get your back statement, or your pay stub, or you see it come through on the direct deposit, when you see that go into your bank, do you think, “Grace.”
When you write a check to the church or to a missionary or to a Christian in need, do you think, “Wow, I’m spreading around grace”?
We ought to be joyful givers. We don’t have to wait until we feel like it. Paul says, “I’m bringing Titus. Okay, he’s coming. He’s going to see that this thing comes to completion.”
Yes, our attitude matters, but giving when you don’t feel particularly special about it is not hypocrisy. It’s called maturity. Somehow we’ve mistaken that. “Well, if I’m a Christian and I do things when I don’t feel like it, I’m a hypocrite.” No, when you say you’re doing one thing and you’re not, that’s hypocrisy. When you pray, when you give, when you share your faith, when you come to worship, and you don’t feel like it, that’s not hypocrisy, that’s called being an adult. Being a mature Christian adult.
Paul doesn’t tell the Corinthians, “Wait until you have the gift of giving and then give as you feel led.” He says, “I want you to excel in this area.” And notice, Paul is careful. He does not motivate them out of shame, or fear. He motivates them throughout this chapter by grace. All he wants to talk about, God is full of grace, the Macedonians have shown grace, you have been given grace, you started to make a collection of grace, now don’t you want to keep growing in grace?
There are many of you here who are joyful, generous givers. Many out of their plenty, some out of their want. For some, perhaps, though, you may not be exceling in the grace of giving.
Here’s one more way to think about it, and we’re closing. When it comes to giving, are you a dam or a water wheel? A dam blocks up, holds in, makes a reservoir. There it is, we’re going to keep the water and this is how we make a lake that we can all enjoy, we can all swim in. Some of us when it comes to possessions and money, we want to be the Hoover Dam. Here it is, nothing gets by me. We’re like Gandalf on the bridge, “You shall not pass.”
Brothers and sisters, let’s be a water wheel. Water comes in and just starts spinning and spinning and spinning. More grace, more grace. Powering, motivating, energizing, producing electricity as the water spins and moves through.
Or to put it another way, somewhat homely, Jesus put holes in His hands for us, certainly it’s not too much that we might have holes in our pockets for Him.
It really is about grace. It’s coming face-to-face. Not in a bout of shame with all that we have, but encountering Jesus for all that He is and all that He has done for us, and then He gives us the privilege to share that grace with others.
Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks for Your Word and for Your many gifts. Help us in these weeks that You would stir up among us, that we would excel in this act of grace. You have given us so much. You’ve given me and my family so much. We pray that we would be eager and joyful to use what You have given to us for the relief of the poor, the spread of the Gospel among all peoples, the strengthening of the Church. We pray in Your name. Amen.