Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Lavish Planter Gets a Lavish Crop

You could call this The Offering - Part 2.

I had an interesting experience last week. The day was particularly difficult and troubling. Nothing was going well. At a certain point in the day, I saw an old pickup pulled over where there wasn't really a shoulder. Just beyond was a young man walking with a gas can. I picked him up and took him to work. It might have been 2 minutes out of my way. But it was the high point of my day!

Paul quotes Jesus as saying, "It is more blessed to give than to recieve." Would you rather be desperately needy and recieve a much needed gift? Or would you rather have abundance and give to help someone desperately needy? Both ends of that transaction recieve a blessing. Which has the bigger blessing? Which end is it more fun to be on?

II Corinthians 9

3 -5 "Now I'm sending the brothers to make sure you're ready, as I said you would be, so my bragging won't turn out to be just so much hot air. If some Macedonians and I happened to drop in on you and found you weren't prepared, we'd all be pretty red-faced—you and us—for acting so sure of ourselves. So to make sure there will be no slipup, I've recruited these brothers as an advance team to get you and your promised offering all ready before I get there. I want you to have all the time you need to make this offering in your own way. I don't want anything forced or hurried at the last minute."

Fund raising has been elevated to a science - no, an art - in our day. Every psychological tool and weapon available is used to shake down the people. And it works! But Paul is not manipulating. He is teaching. Remember, this money is not for him. It is for needy Christians who are starving in Jerusalem...

6 -7 "Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting.
God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
8 -11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,
He throws caution to the winds,
giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways
never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you.

He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
12 -15 Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians.
It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God.
This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone.
Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need.
Thank God for this gift, his gift.
No language can praise it enough!"

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