Whole Life Worship

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

God is Generous

Sometimes it’s good to start a sermon with a story or a joke. But as I reflected on this passage, and as I stared at the blank page in front of me, I closed my eyes and asked God to guide me on where to begin and what came to mind wasn’t a joke or a fun story but a fact. In big bold letters, one simple truth and that was this – GOD IS GENEROUS!

God is generous. We might not always see it, it might not always feel like it but there are few things that I am so absolutely sure of as the fact that our God, the God of the Bible, the Jesus God, he is generous! And this is why 2 Corinthians chapter 9 ends with this sentence “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” because God is so generous that it’s indescribable.

We see God’s generosity all around us in everyday life and if we look we can see God’s generosity right from the very start. If we look at Genesis, God creates the universe, an abundance of goodness, he creates light and water and land and fish and birds and mammals and then – people. And after he created people “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said ‘ I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” (Genesis 1:28-29)  In other words, “this is my gift to you, the whole world.” Think of the best Christmas gift you ever received, multiply it by 100 and you don’t even come close to this gift.

If we’re honest, people messed it up, brought sin into the world and ended up with a death sentence, but God’s generosity just continued. John 3:16, that famous verse says “For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son, that all who believe in him would not die but would have eternal life.”

His generosity extends even further than giving us the whole world, he gave us Jesus his only Son, to die on a cross so that we could be forgiven for our sins and have eternal life. So when Paul writes Give thanks for his indescribably gift, it really is indescribable, God really is that generous.

And so when we hear Paul’s words to the Corinthians in this reading, we start in the same position that the Corinthians were in, as people who have received God’s great generosity. As people who are blessed by what God has given them. We may all come to this in different situations when it comes to finances, relationships, lifestyle etc. But we have all be given an abundance of God’s love and grace.

Generosity Encouraged

So if we start in this position of having received from God, where do we go next?

Well you could be forgiven for thinking that the appropriate response to having received from God is simply to share what we have with others. It is harvest, a time when we give what God has blessed us with to help others. Most bibles do title this section “generosity encouraged” and Paul does say things like “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” And in a sense this is part of what Paul is saying but I think we need a more complete picture of what Paul is trying to tell us and I think we get that from verse 7 of our reading. This is what he says “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

If we simply say we should give because we have received then I think we run the risk of it becoming an obligation – we will do it reluctantly only because we feel we have to, we’ll grumble – we won’t delight in it and God won’t delight in that . But what Paul is talking about here is saying “Yes, I’ve received incredible generosity from God and now I want to give thanks for that! All I have is a gift from God and so I will offer it back to him in thanks giving.” I think that what Paul is talking about in this passage is worship – whole life worship. Paul is talking about the life that Christian’s are called to live. One in which we freely give what we have received from God in thanksgiving to God.

So if we have been blessed financially then we are generous with money and thankful that we can give. If we have been blessed with a particular skill then we offer that generously to help others and we’re thankful that we can do this. And we have all been blessed with great love and grace, and so we offer them generously, giving them to others in thanks giving to God. Forgiving others, showing kindness and love to everyone, to EVERYONE, in the name of Jesus.

This is the way that Christ lived his life here on earth and this is what the Christian is called to, a life in which EVERYTHING comes from God’s generosity and EVERYTHING is given back to God in thankfulness. We don’t generously give OUR time, money, gifts – everything we have is God’s and so is given back to him in thankfulness.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s not easy, the world out there doesn’t make it easy, our social media and advertising don’t make it easy and our own hearts don’t make it easy because sometimes “I just want to keep MY stuff for ME.” But that’s why we keep coming back to Jesus, as our example of how to do it right, as the one who gives us forgiveness when we get it wrong and as our rock, as the one who we can come to and say “ Jesus, show me how to live in thanksgiving and generosity today. Show me how to live more and more like you”.

The Fruitfulness of Generosity

And the great thing is that this way of living bears real fruit, it’s not just some philosophical idea of how to live a better life but it has real life implications –

Paul says this in verses 12 and 13 – “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

Hear that part “Others will praise God” – Because Christ is at the heart of it all, when we respond to God’s generosity and grace in thankful generosity and grace, when we do live a life of worship, we are showing the world Christ. We are pointing people towards Jesus.

Not only does all of this provide for the needs of others (which is great) but EVEN BETTER than that it points others toward God the ultimate provider, it leads others to want to worship him to want to praise him and so God’s kingdom grows – and what could be more incredible than that?

Living a life of thankfulness and generosity in Christ and knowing that doing so is leading others to do the same. Knowing that God has given to us so generously and pointing people towards his generosity – that sounds pretty good to me.

So this is what I’m going to be praying this week and I’d love it if you could pray it too. Each morning I’ll be praying “God, today please bring me opportunities to show your generosity.” And every evening I’m going to pray “Thank you God, that I was able to be generous in your name today. Your Kingdom Come.” That’s it, really short and simple, but I would love it if we all tried to pray it everyday and how great would it be if by doing that, we saw new ways to worship God in our everyday life?