Preparing the Way – Week 5: 2 Cor. 8:1-5
We have been on a 5-week spiritual journey, exploring what it means to be fully devoted followers of Christ. We’ve spent time digging into the transformation that takes place as we grow in our understanding and appreciation of the Gospel. We’ve also looked at the characteristics we display as we continue to grow in Christ, and we looked at one of the major impediments to that growth—covetousness. We defined covetousness as idolatry, as an unquenchable desired to obtain more and more of something we think we need in order to be truly satisfied. Ultimately covetousness destroys us, separating us from the God we need, to pursue things that will only bring pain and emptiness. That’s why Scripture spends so much time on generosity. Generosity is the best way to combat covetousness in our lives.
As we have moved through this short study, Pastor Sean and our church leadership have had 2 goals in mind. First, we believe that God has called us remove the bondage of debt. Debt is a cruel master that demands constant attention and priority in our lives. It draws our attention, focus, and resources away from what really matters and causes us to focus our attention on temporal things. That’s why Paul admonishes the Church in Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another fulfills the law.” (ESV). We believe that we cannot be all that we are called to be as a church until this distraction is removed. Second, and most importantly, we want Redeemer Church to experience lives of grace, joy, and satisfaction that transcend circumstances—not just to meet a goal but to transform our lives at the soul level.
In our passage, we see a group of churches displaying the grace, joy, and satisfaction that we should all desire. What is happening among these churches defies logic. The English translation of “extreme poverty” doesn’t do justice to the situation they find themselves in. The Greek word that is translated as “extreme poverty” is actually used to describe a beggar who has nothing and has no hope of actually having anything. Yet, we find them not only giving, but giving abundantly and joyfully, begging for the opportunity to serve others and in some way reflect the generosity of Christ. Such generosity does not come from guilt or compulsion; it comes from a thankfulness that has penetrated to the deepest parts of our being. That’s the heart behind what we’ve been studying for the last few weeks. It is a perfect example of what it means to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
Though paying off debt is a worthy goal, it is not an end in and of itself. It cannot be. Our end must be to equip our community at Redeemer Church to be fully devoted followers of Christ—men and women who are generous with their resources, their time, their talents, and the Gospel. We should strive to be a church known not for what we have but rather for what we give. If we achieve that end, the debt will take care of itself.
- As we have moved through this study, what are some of the areas where God has convicted you about being more generous?
- Think back through this study. What are some of the impediments to you being more generous? What, if anything, holds you back?
- Take some time to look back at your spending for the last few months. If someone were to look at your spending, what would they say are your priorities?
- What would Redeemer Church look like if we were a church known by what we give? (Feel free to dream a bit. Think of what might be different if we were a church defined by our generosity.)