2 Corinthians 9:8-11
No matter who you are everyone gets 10,080 minutes in a week. Each minute is yours, and you decide how to split it up. Binge watch a whole season of a show on Netflix. Invest in some outdoor time cleaning up the yard or helping with the special clean up day here yesterday that filled that entire 30-yard dumpster. Go to work and school. Time for travel. The only contingency, once time is given to something, anything, those same minutes can’t be allocated to something else. Binge-watching a TV show won’t help you get that project done for work. Helping with a cleanup day won’t help get your own yard cleaned up. There are only so many minutes.
We spend so much of our time calculating where we can be generous. But it seems generosity in one place means we can’t give it somewhere else. Energy, money, time, these things aren’t infinite. Our fear is if we’re generous and give of ourselves in anything there will be less. We don’t want less. We’ve sacrificed for what we have. So we hold on to it, we don’t give it, and we also don’t
see an increase in God’s grace or our thankfulness to God.
While the Apostle Paul in the second lesson does seem to be talking about money, it’s not only money he addresses. Being generous isn’t just about how much money we’re willing to part with. Paul touches really every part of our lives with his encouragements for…
Because God is gracious
Because God provides
This week hasn’t been the perfect advertisement for homeownership with us. Appliances not working, services not running, tech calls not happening at the scheduled times. Homeownership, apartment renting, can be brutal. Plus expensive. The bills, yardwork, effort, it all adds up. And keeps coming. With those burdens how could anyone speak of being generous? What do we have, that we could give away, that we don’t need? Cars don’t maintain themselves. Calculate the time to the repair shop, money spent, and work production lost. Groceries don’t just appear. More money spent, effort to get what’s on the list only, and anxiety fought off that there won’t be enough. Everywhere we look things feel limited. Material goods are limited, so is time. Then there comes the offering plate, the student knocking on the front door selling things in support of some great cause, and the agency we love needing volunteers. Since we’re not sure we’ll have enough we wonder how we could possibly be generous. We have to hesitate because giving anything away means less for us. Time and money are limited. Us giving, even a little, but generously, will mean we lose our grip on what we have.
Except generosity doesn’t start with you. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” God is able. Grace will abound. You’re limited, Jesus is not. He’s not limited by time, he loved you before you were even born. Christ is not limited by how many sins he can carry. Each of you, when you were still sinful, God showed you the full extent of his love by sending you Jesus. Jesus is not limited by fear, wondering if he’ll have enough. Jesus lived limitless facing life head-on and living perfectly. Facing death without fear, knowing his death would bring you life.
Grace from God abounds to you. Limitless grace overflows. God doesn’t hesitate. He keeps it coming for you and me who need it daily. Grace overflows when we fear or doubt we’ll have enough. Grace overflows from God and his limitless supply for all the times we hesitate. Grace gets refilled and regenerated in you. Jesus covers every single sin in every single one of you by grace that is greater. An unlimited number of sins committed by you, me, and the world are not met by your limited contributions of time, energy, or money. Not met by your limitations at all. Sin is only met and defeated by an absolutely unlimited supply of God’s grace.
Grace means that in all things, at all times, in all ways you can be generous. “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Don’t look at your limits, look at God’s unlimited grace. With eyes on his love for you, you’ll be able to scatter abroad the gifts God has given. You’ll give of your time to your kids even though you’ve spent so much time already at work. Grace overflows. You’ll stretch yourself to give more weekly in offerings or consider giving special offerings or step out into a new field of service even though your budget seems maxed out. Grace abounds in you. God’s grace allows you to be generous. Your budget still can’t increase exponentially without consideration for your income. Your day won’t suddenly have more minutes. God’s generous grace means you look to him to be generous.
If you’ve ever stopped to look at the size of a seed and compare it to the size of the field those seeds go into it’s intimidating. It could make anyone afraid that those little seeds won’t be able to do anything in the big field. But the farmer that is afraid of what the little seed can do won’t get crops. Farmers who value the seeds but don’t plant them don’t get crops. And any farmer can forget where that seed came from. They might forget what Paul says to the Corinthians. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”
It’s not seed and bread that are most important. God provides. It’s what he does. God provides seeds and bread for sure. But Paul means something deeper. The seeds are the blessings we have from God. If we’ve forgotten we might figure it was our intellect that achieved them. Our education, our business smarts. The store sold them, the supplier distributed them, the farmer grew them. The credit goes to someone else. When Paul says the harvest, he isn’t talking about the farmers picking the fruit or cutting the grain. The harvest of righteousness is the good things we do in life. But if we’re forgetting where that comes from we might figure our generosity is something to be bragged about. We were willing to lose and should be rewarded. We take credit and forget God.
“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” The money you have to sow into the lives of others in need, that is a gift of God’s grace in Christ. Jesus spent lavishly to win you from sin and death to forgiveness and life. His work made you his own. The time you can so generously share with someone you care about, that is a gift of God’s grace in Christ. Jesus took all the time that was needed to give to you the time of eternal life. Heaven is opened to you and all the time forever is yours through Christ. The energy you expend to serve others, that’s a gift of God’s grace in Christ. Jesus expended his energy living perfectly, being generous, and thinking of you.
Being generous isn’t about how much cash you can put into today’s offering. It’s not about how many minutes you volunteer on clean up days or in lawn mowing or vacuuming and dusting. Being generous isn’t a total of volunteer hours at your school or the total number of 5Ks for charity you ran. These are great things and are very generous. You surely have other areas where you are being very generous. Remember who stands behind them all. God provides for you. Provides so you can do these things to thank him. Paul says, “your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” God wants you to be generous because it’s a reflection of his grace, how he has provided for you, and it gives thanks to him. That’s an attitude in the heart. An attitude of giving thanks and being generous.
God has saved you. That makes what you do all harvest. All good things God is doing through you in every phase, every part, every corner of your life. A comment made to lift someone’s spirits. Walking with someone through a difficult time. Calling to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while just to see how they’re doing. A social media post to encourage those who read it. Generosity that shows up in money given, time spent, and compassion shared. Every deduction will not mean for one minute you’re losing anything. Money won’t magically appear, but blessings will be provided. They will be there because that’s what God does. He provides.
You can’t get more than 10,080 minutes a week. Your checking account may not always be full. Things at your home or apartment may not always operate smoothly. But God promises that no matter what, in whatever your circumstances, you can be generous. Because it’s not about amount, it’s about attitude. God looks at the heart. The heart he’s won over by his grace. The love he has for you in Christ Jesus. God provides you with the blessings to share and the desire to share them. In this way, whatever you do, wherever you go, in all things, in all times, with everything you can be generous.