Sunday School Material 8-31-14: Generosity in the Midst of Poverty

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that believers are called to give as God has prospered them. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to give as God has prospered us.

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Read II Corinthians 8:1-5

I. Macedonia Example. Paul talks about in our Sunday School material how the believers in Macedonia were so generous. They were generous beyond expectation, in spite of their poverty. They were known for giving themselves to God and Paul.

Applications -

- Macedonia’s example. Notice in vss. 1-5 that the believers in Macedonia were great examples of giving. Especially those who are in covenant to give as God has prospered them (i.e., Baptist Church Covenant) should be known for exemplary giving.

Think about how this applies to standing tithers (i.e., examples not show offs). God is looking for equal sacrifice, not equal giving.

Therefore, the poor are not excluded from giving, and the rich are expected to give much more than the poor. Let’s work on being examples of Christian giving.

- Giving ourselves to God. Notice in vs. 5 of our Sunday School material that before the people could give their money, it was important that they gave themselves to God. To give yourself to God, includes following the leadership that God has provided.

It is embarrassing to see so many in our churches whose outfit cost more than what they give to the Lord all year long. At the core of this contradiction may be the reality that they come to church, but they are not saved or people who have given themselves to God.

Let’s work on making sure that we have given ourselves to God. God can take much better care of us than we can.

Read II Corinthians 8:6-9

II. Corinthian Challenge. In our Sunday School material Paul talks about how Titus is being used to complete the collection of the offering. Paul wants the Corinthians to demonstrate the gift and grace of giving. He talks about how Jesus is a great example for believers.

Applications -

- Balanced Christians. Notice in vs. 7 that for a person to do other things well but fail to give leaves one lacking. Let’s make sure we are balanced Christians. A part of our balance should include giving.

There is something wrong with a person who can quote 50 Bible verses, sing all of the songs, and even serve in various capacities but don’t give as God has prospered them.

- Jesus’ giving. Notice in vs. 9 of our Sunday School material that Jesus is an even greater example of giving than the believers in Macedonia. When we think about how much Jesus gave for us (i.e., His life), we should quickly give at least 10% of our income to Him.

Since Christ gave so much and we claim to be Christians/followers of Christ, we should be known for giving as well. Let’s work on giving like we are followers of our giving Christ.

Read II Corinthians 8:10-12

III. Important Work. Paul talks about completing the act of giving in our Sunday School material. They were the first to start, but they needed to finish. He talks about how God judges based on what we have, not on what we don’t have.

Applications -

- Finishing. Notice in vs. 11 the urging to finish the work. There are too many who start off well, but they don’t finish. Let’s work on being finishers.

Think about how this applies to not only giving, but it also applies to promises of service, wedding vows, parental duties, job responsibilities, and even community involvement.

- Giving as God has prospered us. Notice in vs. 12 of our Sunday School material that giving should be in accord with your ability and seen as a spiritual act, not just a financial one. First, as noted above, God is calling for equal sacrifice, not equal giving.

For a poor person to give $10 a week is more significant than a person who makes $100,000/yr. The beauty of tithing (i.e., giving 10% of our income) is that 10% is the same size sacrifice, regardless of how much money you make.

Second, giving to God should been seen as a spiritual act, not just a financial one. On the list of spiritual acts like praying, attending worship, and being kind to others, there should be the spiritual act of giving to God, as He has instructed us.

Let’s work on the spiritual duty of giving as God has prospered us.

Read II Corinthians 8:13-14

IV. Desired Outcome. In our Sunday School material Paul calls for equity. He wants the Corinthians to give out of their plenty to help those who are in need. And he wants those who have plenty to give for the needs of Corinth.

Applications -

- A safety net. Notice in vss. 13-14 that when believers give, the church can help with equality of sufficiency. To be clearer, the church can make sure more of the needs of the members are met like food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities.

However, if everyone is putting only $3-5/week on the table then the church is unable to meet many needs. A tithing church is able to serve as a type of mutual aid society (i.e., Google “mutual aid society”) for its members.

Let’s work on making our churches strong enough to provide a safety net for especially the less fortunate members.

Conclusion: Let’s work on giving as God has prospered us. God has much for those who obey His will.

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