On Oct 26, 2014, pastor John preached from 1 Cor 8:1-9; 9:6-15: Joy in the Grace of Giving. The year is 55AD, and the churches in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea), though impoverished, sent aid to the church in Jerusalem. Paul now writes to the church in Corinth to encourage them to assist as well. He exhorts them to excel in the grace of giving, and roots it all in God’s grace and the person and work of Jesus, who even though as God was rich, made Himself poor in His death on the cross so that all who trust in Him could inherit the riches of eternal life! The key point of the text is that we must excel in the grace of giving because by God’s grace Jesus gave Himself for us. 4 points:
1. The Grace of Giving
a. Giving is rooted in, flows out of, and is an expression of divine grace. In chapt 8-9, the word “grace” appears 10 times. In salvation, God’s grace is His undeserved favor toward sinners: God gives us what we don’t deserve: spiritual/eternal life and forgiveness—on the basis of the perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Christ as we trust Christ alone.
b. Grace also refers to divine power and spiritual enablement. 4 times in chapt 8-9 our acts of giving are referred to as an act of God’s grace. God’s grace is at work in those saved by grace so that they love God and others in word and deed. Dig deeper: Giving isn’t just a duty. It is a grace. Grace turns duty into delight—an opportunity to glorify God and enjoy Him.
c. So in vv. 1-2 Paul says he wants them to know the grace of God that was given among the Macedonian churches. This grace was the grace empowered generosity shown by those churches. Dig deeper: Our giving is a tangible expression of God’s grace working in us to meet the needs of others. Do you yearn to be an instrument in God’s hands?
2. The Foundation for Giving:
a. In 8:9, the person and work of Christ is the foundation of our salvation, and our lives, and Paul says that they know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This wasn’t theoretical knowledge—but experiential, intimate knowledge that changes you at the deepest level. Dig deeper: This kind of knowledge only comes through faith in Christ alone.
b. What is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul says: “that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor...” Paul is describing Jesus’ nature. The Scriptures teach that Jesus is fully God and fully man.
i. Paul equates the grace of God in v. 1 to the grace of Christ in v. 9: the grace of God is the grace of Christ--Jesus is “rich” because He is God! Though He was rich (God), He became poor (He took a human nature/was fully man).
ii. Philippians 2:5-8: Jesus didn’t cling to His rights as God, but, without ceasing to be God, became fully human and died on the cross for us. As Paul says in v. 9: “he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” The One who was clothed in glory, was stripped naked and nailed to a cross to give us the riches of eternal life!
3. The Motivation for Giving
a. Our motive for giving is not guilt; it’s Christ and His love (2 Cor 5:14-21), and a desire to see God glorified (1 Cor 6:20). Paul gets at this in 9:6: he says not to give reluctantly (sorrowfully) or under compulsion (forced). Dig Deeper: If you’re giving out of guilt, or any reason except Christ and His love, don’t give. Matthew Chandler: “The motive of our giving is not begrudging submission...Instead, there is a transformation of our souls when the grace and mercy of God is freely lavished upon us in Jesus Christ...As we experience the generosity of God, we become generous ourselves.”
b. What you treasure is what motivates you (Matt 6:19-21). What’s does your life revolves around? Dig deeper: Our lives are a vapor. What is your treasure? What are you living for? Treasure Christ, and live in light of that treasure: to live is Christ and die is gain!
4. The Mindset of Giving
a. Generous: In 8:3 these churches gave all they could give and held nothing back.
b. Sacrificial: Because the grace of God was given among them, they were consumed with Christ, and it was their joy to engage in this joyful sacrifice!
c. Cheerful: In 9:7 we read that God loves a cheerful giver. In 8:1-3 Paul speaks of their abundance of joy and extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity. Because Jesus was their joy, their eyes were fixed on Jesus who for the joy set before Him endured the cross—He freely gave Himself for the sake of others, how could they (we) not?
d. Desperation: Paul says in 8:3-4 that they begged for the favor (literally the grace) of taking part in the relief of the saints. Dig deeper: what are you desperate for?
e. Confidence in God’s supply: In 9:6 Paul uses the agricultural metaphor of sowing and reaping: the more you put into something, the more results you should see. The more of our talent, time, treasure we plant in the kingdom, the more it will, as Paul says in vv. 12-13, result in thanksgiving to God and God being glorified in the lives of others!
f. To sum it up, we must have a Gospel-consumed mindset. In 9:14-15 Paul brings it back to the Gospel—a clear vision of the Gospel and taking hold of the person and work of Christ by grace through faith. Tim Keller: “To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into a generous people…What breaks the power of money over us…is deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ, what you have in him, and in living out the changes that that understanding makes in your heart…Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self understanding and identity, our view of the world.”
May we excel in the grace of giving, whether it be our talent, time, or treasure because by God’s grace Jesus gave himself for us. How can we do this? We need to be confronted once again with the person and work of Christ. The more we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, the more that we will grow in the grace of giving—in all areas of our lives.