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GENEROSITY SERMON HELPER #2: Be an Overflowing Fountain - 2 Corinthians 8:7

"Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.”

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (2 Co 8:7). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Have you ever tried to pour something out of a pitcher or container and it’s stuck to the bottom and won’t come out? Typically, in my house you will hear some banging going on in the kitchen and more than likely someone is trying to get something out of a container has something stuck on the bottom. When this happens, we will get a utensil of some kind and start scraping trying to get whatever it is to come out. And when it simply won’t come out we get frustrated because whatever was in there was really going to make whatever we’re trying to prepare even better. Hold on to this image and I’ll come back to this in a few minutes.

 

Paul is imploring the Corinthians to give generously. He uses the generosity of the Macedonian people as an example to motivate and inspire these Corinthians. The Macedonian people are facing some really hard times. In fact, the inference here is that oppression seems as if it is purposefully being dialed up on them and yet still they are not only being extraordinarily generous…but really happy about it.

 

Do you ever feel like hard times and oppression are being dialed up on you? The Word of God tells us that this is exactly what happens. The evil one seeks to rob, kill and destroy. If Satan can’t win you then he is going to do everything he can to make you as ineffective as you can be for Christ. His weapon of choice is oppression, oppression that feels personal and purposeful. Despite this effort on the Macedonian people in the area of generosity, they are overcomers in Christ and continue to give joyously and generously.

“…I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.”

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (2 Co 8:7). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

So Paul is expressing all of this to the Corinthians in an effort to motivate them specifically in the area of generosity. The word Paul uses as a leverage point to help them understand that kind of generosity is “excel”. The word “excel” here means to overflow. I love the picture I found for this blog because I believe it is a perfect illustration of this passage and how God works in our lives in the area of generosity. You see there is a pouring into the jar and then there is an overflowing out of the jar. In preaching this passage I take a jar like this that is already almost full of water and have it setting on the stage. I then take a pitcher of water and pour more water into the jar so that it overflows out of the jar (NOTE: have the jar sitting in some basin so you don’t make a mess on the stage!). In this illustration we are the jar and the water being poured into the jar is God’s provision into us. It is the overflowing out of the jar that illustrates the generosity of our time, talent and treasure. Authentic, 100% pure generosity comes flowing out of us from God’s provision.

 

Everything we have is from God. Our job, our ability to do our job, our opportunity to get the job, the health to show up for the job, the success of the business to sustain our job, the self-discipline to work “as unto Christ” to keep the job…and on and on it goes. The vast detail and the complexity of God’s provision into every life is beyond measurable. And God tells us that it is from this immeasurable provision that our generosity should overflow.

 

In 2 Timothy 4:6 Paul says this,

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.”

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (2 Ti 4:6). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

The challenge for us as believers is the act of being poured out. When you grab the pitcher and even slightly tip it over the water starts pouring out freely. That is how God wants our generosity to be, where it freely flows out of us.

 

Do you remember the scenario I described at the beginning of this blog/message? Someone in my family banging a pitcher or container on the counter trying to get something stuck on the bottom to come out? If we’re not careful that is how our generosity and giving can be. Instead of our generosity flowing freely out of us it is stuck and we refuse to let it come out. Despite God’s immeasurable provision we choose to be self-serving and inwardly focused on what we want in this life versus what God wants. I have this visual of God banging me on the counter trying to get generosity to flow out of me. I am holding on for dear life to the bottom of that pitcher with one hand and clutching on to my treasure with the other. Can you see that picture? As I would see myself that way, it is not a pretty picture or one that I would be proud of.

 

Here’s the challenge for you to accept today. If God can’t pour you out and you’re not free flowing with your generosity today, then let go of the bottom of the pitcher. Decide for yourself that you are going to listen to the words of Paul to the Corinthians and “excel in the act of giving”. Decide today that in light of God’s immeasurable provision for you and in terms of generosity…you’re going to look like an overflowing fountain. 

I submit these Sermon Helpers hoping they will inspire you and be resource from which you can develop a sermon and/or Generosity Moment. Feel free to steal anything in here from me and do not feel any obligation to give me credit. Hopefully this will add value to the work you’re doing in your local church. If you would like to talk about ideas to grow you culture of generosity please email me. Keep me in mind if you’re looking for coaching or a consultant to help you with a giving, a generosity One Fund initiative or a capital campaign. If you don’t already I would also really appreciate if you would follow me on Twitter at @cstovall16 or on my Generis Facebook page.

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