Kingdom Privileges - Week 3
The Generosity of the King’s Subjects
By Richard Jones
Sermon Date: May 8th 2016
This is the concluding sermon in our mini-series entitled ‘Kingdom Privileges”.
A key part of Paul's apostolic ministry in the mid 50’s AD was his organization of a collection of money to relieve the poverty of the church in Jerusalem. The collection did more than relieve poverty. By making a generous and sacrificial financial gift to the Jerusalem church, the new gentile churches affirmed their partnership with the Jewish Christians in building the Kingdom of God.
In our study today, Paul is writing to the church that he planted in Corinth. Their early enthusiastic commitment to giving to this collection seems to have fizzled out. What’s more, we
learn that were financial tensions caused, it seems, by Paul refusal to accept patronage and instead to work to his ministry. Problems were made worse by false teachers denying Paul’s authority as an apostle. Given the breakdown of relationships and a delicate situation, Paul could be forgiven for not pressing an issue that was as sensitive as money - but he did! A full two chapters (2 Corinthians 8 & 9) are devoted to teaching about financial stewardship as he urged the Corinthians to complete the collection as part of their ongoing spiritual formation as well as for supporting God’s work in Jerusalem.
Paul’s focus was not the money: in the two chapters Paul never used the word 'money' once – or any other financial word – although his teaching is all about financial giving. Instead, he intentionally chose words such as privilege, service or generous act. These are all English translations of the single Greek word charis meaning 'grace'. Paul makes the profound point that it is a grace to give to support the work of the kingdom of God through the local church. Giving financially to resource the work of God is a grace. We give in response to receiving the grace of God through Christ.
Can you remember an occasions(s) when you have been blessed by the generosity of someone? How did you feel? How did you respond?
Study: Read 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15
1. Read 2 Corinthians 8: 1-5. What do we learn about the circumstances of the Christians in Macedonia and their Christian discipleship?
2. Looking at verses 2-5 & 12, explore the difference between a sense of obligation and a sense of privilege. What difference does this make to your understanding of giving financially and in the wider sense (e.g. our time and talents)?
3. Read verse 7. What do you think about Paul’s encouragement to “…also excel in the grace of giving.”
4. Read verses 8-12. Why do you think that Christians can fail to follow through in this foundational area of Christian discipleship - in giving financially? Reading the passage, how does Paul respond to this? Do you agree?
5. Read verses 13-15. Giving to support the ongoing work of Church in our locality and to others, is one way that we demonstrate our love for God (see Mark 12: 30-31 our motto verse) and develop unity and equality (i.e. peace) as His one universal church.
Given this, and all that we have considered in our three session series “Kingdom Privileges”, consider sharing how your discipleship has been influenced in recent weeks?
2. In response to the grace of God revealed in and through Christ, it was a joy and a privilege for the Christians in Macedonia to give financially to support the ongoing work of God. It was a priority for them despite their “extreme poverty” (verse 2). They gave willingly, regularly, generously and sacrificially to the ongoing work of God through the church.
Richard Jones, 11/03/2016