God Loves a Cheerful Giver 2 Corinthians 9 1-2 If I wrote any more on this relief offering for the poor Christians, I’d be repeating myself. I know you’re on board and ready to go. I’ve been bragging about you all through Macedonia province, telling them, “Achaia province has been ready to go on this since last year.” Your enthusiasm by now has spread to most of them. …….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. Intro: Last week we began the Biblical story of the prophet Jonah. While this story is best known for Jonah’s encounter with a big fish, you might remember that God told him to go and preach in the city of Nineveh. Jonah finally comes to his senses and God rescues him from the bottom of the sea. Jonah goes to Nineveh and preaches. And the effect of his preaching is spectacular: the people of Nineveh repent and turn back to God. And God forgives them and loves them And here the story of Jonah gets interesting – let me explain: God rescued Jonah from the depths of the sea – this is the nature of God: to get alongside of people when they are drowning and help them to find dry land again. God freely blesses the life of Jonah – even when Jonah did not deserve it because he had disobeyed God. This is called Grace – God’s undeserved favor. Jonah was shown Grace by God, but when God shows the same Grace towards the people of Nineveh, Jonah loses his cool. Listen to him getting angry with God: 4 1-2 Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at GOD, “GOD! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! 3 “So, GOD, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!” 4 GOD said, “What do you have to be angry about?” 5 But Jonah just left. He went out of the city to the east and sat down in a sulk. How is it possible that one who has been blessed finds it so difficult to imagine God using him to bless others? I suspect that this is buried deep inside of each of us: we who have been blessed find it difficult to share our blessings. In fact we become angry at the thought of sharing what we have with others: I have heard people suggest that rich people should not pay taxes – because why should the poor get a share of their wealth. “It is mine. I have a right to it. I worked hard for it” Such people never pause to ask: so who gave you this gift of life that you are living? Who gave you your gifts and skills? Who gives you rest at night and strength for each new day? Who planted the drive and creativity in you that helps you get through the day? There is an alternative to the attitude that says “It is all mine”: We find an alternative view in the words of St Paul. Paul writes to the Christian church in Corinth. And he is delighted with their capacity to share their blessings: (1 Corinthians 9) I know you’re on board and ready to go. I’ve been bragging about you all through Macedonia province, telling them, “Achaia province has been ready to go on this since last year” Here is a church that has been blessed – and in Paul’s words they are “on board and ready to go” to share their blessings with others. This sums up our Christian spiritual principle: we have been blessed – so that we can share our blessings with others. In Paul’s words : God loves it when the giver delights in the giving…. Or the version we are more familiar with “God loves a cheerful giver” Invite us to allow the story of Jonah to ask the question for us: Are we like Jonah, who becomes angry when God asks us to share our blessings, or will we follow the example of the church in Corinth? These are people who set an example of cheerful giving.
We are at the point when we begin to wish one another a Happy Thanksgiving – let us make this more than just words: move our good wishes into actions of blessing: Invite someone to join you for your Thanksgiving celebration Or if you cannot do this then: Choose to sponsor a meal for someone who needs to be blessed Send an offering to our church – that we can continue to be a blessing in our community . We give away food and diapers because of your generosity. Even better pledge a regular monthly amount so that we can bless people throughout the year. I close with an illustration of generosity:
In 1995, Dolly Parton launched a dream to teach children to read. Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write Dolly started her Imagination Library to benefit the children of her home county in East Tennessee, USA. Dolly’s vision was to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families by providing them with the gift of a specially selected book each month. Today, her program has grown to cover five different countries and she gifts over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.