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Nov
25

Stewardship is Joy:: 1

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Over the past three weeks I’ve preached sermons with the goal of communicating the three most important spiritual truths about stewardship. The first truth I shared is that God is the owner of everything and the blessings we have in life have been entrusted to us to use to bless the world. The second truth is that God can be absolutely trusted to care for our needs, making it possible for us to be free to give.

This weekend I shared the third truth about stewardship, which concerns matters of the heart. And when it comes to stewardship as a matter of the heart, there’s no better place to go than 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 8-9 has a tremendous amount of biblical material on stewardship, but I limited my message to the first two verses.

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2, NLT).

The apostle Paul used three words in two verses that are critical to our understanding of how the two chapters work. Those words are troubles, joy, and generosity. Today I want to begin with the first word, troubles, but first a little background.

The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were suffering. A famine ravaged the land and religious persecution complicated their adversity exponentially. Because of their suffering, apostles like Paul were collecting relief offerings and sending the proceeds back to Jerusalem. These offerings not only provided much needed assistance, they also helped bridge the racial tension between Jewish believers and gentile converts. As Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation he pointed to the Macedonian churches as an example of generosity.

You probably noticed in the text how Paul described the Macedonian believers as troubled and poor. The word trouble is the word thilipsis, a word that describes a wine press crushing grapes to extract the juice. Certainly their lives were difficult as they, too, experienced the same kind of persecution and oppression as their Jerusalem counterparts. One would expect that these Macedonians would have enough problems of their own to consider someone else’s misfortune. But they found a way, in the midst of adversity, to dig deep and share with their foreign friends.

What comes to mind when you think about the troubles in your life? Are you solely focused on your own burdens? Or do you live with the awareness that there are others whose lives are equally challenged?

Categories : Stewardship

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