Over the last couple months, we’ve talked a lot about two nefarious diseases of our modern society that all of us have been infected by one way or the other: individualism and consumerism. In our series on the church we focused our attention on combatting the disease of individualism by instead seeing God’s vision for Christ-centered community. But we now turn to give more attention to that second disease: consumerism. Perhaps more than any of us realize, we are deeply shaped every day to think of ourselves as consumers who need more and more in order to have enough and to be enough. We incessantly imbibe the message: “Your life is lacking. You are missing something you need. You will be fulfilled by the acquisition of more.” It is a disease that keeps us hoarding our stuff while ever searching for a greater and better fix.
In total contrast, the gospel of Jesus shapes us to be not consumers but givers, not takers but contributors. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul casts a vision of the Christian life as one of joyful, sacrificial generosity. He grounds this life of generosity in the gospel itself: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (8:9). When this gospel really gets into our souls, it begins to change us. Specifically, it begins to shape us into people of radical generosity, thinking differently about what we give, how we give, when we give, and why we give. We’ll be exploring those themes this Sunday and throughout the next 5 weeks.
In preparation, I encourage you to read the whole of chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians to get the whole context of Paul’s message on generosity. Also, be praying about what God is calling you and your family to pledge financially to the church on Faith Commitment Sunday, coming up on November 5.
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2 Corinthians 8:1-9
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.