Stewardship 2 – 2021 LSB #’s 829, 814, 781
Text – 2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Having All Sufficiency
We continue to study 2 Corinthians 9:8 during this stewardship focus called, “Stewards walking by grace.” Last time, we looked at the 1st part of this verse, all grace abounds. This morning we look at how in all things at all times God’s grace is sufficient.
Stewardship sermons are a time when we receive the abundant gift of God’s grace. I share with you God’s promise that He will continue to bless you in all your days. I tell you how our Father’s grace equips you with a generous heart. From the abundance of His grace, you & I have been given everything we need to participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ.
As with any other sermon, I trust that the Holy Spirit will be our guide to all truth & confidence in Christ Jesus. Yet, due to the controversial nature of stewardship sermons, I wonder how they are received. As we live-stream our services, I don’t want to preach like a greedy & manipulative televangelist.
When Satan throws his temptations before me, I need to remember that I’m called to be your preacher in order to deliver God’s condemnation against sin. And more importantly, I’m also called to preach the deliverance Yahweh promises to you in the good news of His Son Jesus. Stewardship invites you to trust that God wants you to be a part of that good news.
Stewardship preaching should not be about financial spreadsheets, nor should it concern itself with expenses & receipts. Stewardship springs forth from God’s grace, not from the Law, & God’s grace abounds to us from the very beginning of creation. Stewardship is a response to the confidence we have in our heavenly Father. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, Paul affirms that God provides everything we need to be good stewards, who love & care for the closest people in our lives, but also for the people in our congregations & in our communities. The needs are endless, while the resources in hand are not, so how much should we do?
The challenge, as we think about this word sufficiency, is determining the object of our confidence. How do you evaluate, when it comes to helping others, whether or not God has given you abundance & sufficiency? Don’t we tend to evaluate them by the money in the bank, or the students in the school building, or by the # of people in church on Sunday mornings?
Evaluating the sufficiency of our resources in those ways will leave us in doubt & tempted to feel empty. Living in the kingdom of God & joyfully serving our neighbors becomes a frustrating struggle when we measure our glory & strength by the yardsticks of the world. The glories of this earth will always be too scarce.
Do you ever look around at what others have? It’s generally not a pleasant experience. When I look around at what others have & measure the strength of myself by that, it always leaves a feeling of insufficiency. I never have enough if I compare myself to the upper class. In turn, it is difficult to share with others when we ourselves feel insecure & threatened.
That’s what Paul is describing when he wrote about people who sow sparingly & then reap sparingly. It is difficult to share with others when we feel threatened. It is hard to be part of the expanding work of the kingdom when we feel like the safety zone around us is shrinking. Within the sinful heart, sin breeds worry & fear to sow sparingly.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to give money to support the Christians in Jerusalem. This would help to care for the widows & orphans that were in need of mercy. He reminded the Corinthians that they have been gifted by God, & they have been blessed by God for the purpose of being participants in planting the seeds of the gospel. God invites the Corinthians to participate in planting seeds of the gospel in their community. Paul described it like this to the Romans, “…I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (1:16 ESV). The power of salvation is in this congregation, & the gospel of Jesus Christ is our confidence.
Our confidence is not found in any of the things of this world. All of them, you & me included, are passing away. The bottom line in this life is not something uncertain or doubtful. We do not measure glory in the strength of the flesh but in the promises of the Spirit. Jesus teaches that the grace of God continues to abound in all times & in all places.
We trust the Holy Spirit to be at work in the gospel that leads us to see Jesus. The grace of God is sufficient for this day & for all that God allows in this moment. Our own strength will falter & struggle in trying moments, so we must trust in the sufficiency of God’s love & favor for every moment of our earthly life. The writer of Hebrews said:
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, & thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence & awe” (12:28 ESV).
We have received the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Yahweh grants His mercy to us & we find grace in Him which enables us to help others. Giving from our scarcity is frightening. That sort of giving takes the joy out of life with God. Paul does not want anyone to give reluctantly or under compulsion, because that kind of giving is not from the grace of God.
Giving reluctantly or under compulsion is described, a few verses before 2 Corinthians 9:8 with the imagery of a sower who sows sparingly & reaps sparingly. But how does a person transform from being a reluctant servant in the kingdom to a cheerful participant?
If we give from our own strength, our own flesh, our own glory, then we will find the resources scarce. We will plant the seeds reluctantly because we guard & protect what little we have from being unfairly taken away. When the source of strength changes from our own flesh to the grace of God, then we sow abundantly & we reap abundantly. Do you remember who gives the seed & the amazing grace with which He loves? Paul tells us:
“He who supplies seed to the sower & bread for food will supply & multiply your seed for sowing & increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). The call to action as stewards walking by grace is not about meeting a bottom line on a church budget. The call to action is about sowing, in our communities, the seeds of the gospel, of life & of hope.
It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that transforms our glory from one built on the strength of the flesh to a glory that embraces the mercy of God. People need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. People need to experience the mercy of God.
Paul asks the Corinthians to rejoice that they are part of how God brings that gospel into the lives of people who need this good news. Rejoice today as brothers & sisters in Christ with the Corinthians that you also are being invited to be part of God’s work in this world.
Set aside the scarcity of this world’s majesty. You’ll never have enough of that kind of majesty if that is your glory. Seek the things that are above & not the things of the flesh. The things of the flesh wear out & rot. The things above, the grace & mercy of God, will always be sufficient for this day.
When you decide to give an offering, call upon the Holy Spirit to work through you so that your offering is cheerful & freely given. The spiritual discipline of planning your giving as a first-fruit offering is an important aspect of living the Christian life. It’s one way that we push back against Satan & his temptations.
Everything we need for salvation, & for living in the blessings of the kingdom of God, is provided by God. It is He in whom we find our confidence for everything we do in life.
O bless the Lord, my soul! Let all within me join & aid my tongue to bless His name whose favors are divine. O bless the Lord, my soul, nor let His mercies lie forgotten in un-thankfulness & without praises die! He fills the poor with good; He gives the sufferers rest. The Lord hath judgments for the proud & justice for the oppressed. His wondrous works & ways He made by Moses known, but sent the world His truth & grace by His beloved Son. Amen. LSB 814:1-2, 5-6.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet