How to Study the Bible: A Master Toolset on Bible Study for Beginners
Studying the Bible can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Use this process to enrich your study of God’s word.
September 2, 2020
Today, we're talking about allowing the Biblical text to generate the curiosity of the church member around the area of giving and generosity. We've talked about the condition of the human heart, and how we want people to be open to hear the word.
I want to talk about probably the most famous New Testament passage when it comes to generosity. It's out of 2 Cor. 8-9, which are both full of a lot of gold when it comes to talking about giving and generosity.
You're a church leader, and one of the things that we're trying to do is to give you the confidence, the tools, and the understanding of how to use Scripture to teach giving in such a way that doesn't come across as cheesy or kind of manipulative.
In fact, Paul says in this text. When you give, you should do what's in your heart to give. Don't feel that outside manipulation. That's part of the whole premise of New Testament giving. Generosity in a true New Testament sense should never come from this place of people feeling pressured.
And so, these two chapters are loaded on principles of how to teach giving, because the context is Paul talking to the Corinthians about another church's generosity. And so, it's squarely a beautiful instruction when it comes to church leaders and teachers communicating to God's people when it comes to generosity. Paul is literally challenging the Corinthians by using the generosity of the Macedonians. I wouldn't say he's shaming them, but almost. He's saying: "These Macedonians were so generous in how they gave. I'm using that testimony to challenge you."
It's interesting that Paul is not afraid to use the experience and the reality of what was going on in another church to challenge a church that he was either writing to or preaching in. And the Apostle often used what was happening in other churches as a pretext to teach a truth to another church. But that's really great if you're a church leader, and you're tasked with teaching generosity.
You can settle in kind of the beautiful foundation that the apostle Paul was (1) not afraid to teach about generosity and (b) he used other church experiences and what happened in them to teach that church. I would always say that if scripture is your foundation for teaching generosity, it must then be done with boldness. And I don't think there's a much better text than in 2 Cor. 8-9 where Paul is literally going down line by line and talking about all the different subjects.
In 2 Cor. 9, the Apostle Paul literally breaks down the singular act of what it means to give. He literally connects giving to sowing seed. "He who sows sparingly reaps sparingly. He who sows abundantly will reap abundantly." He takes the idea of giving, and in this context, it's money. He's raising money. That's what he's doing.
I don't have to beat around the bush and hem and haw, "Oh, we're talking about money. So sorry, I know it’s awkward." Paul is unashamedly and unapologetically raising money. You need to raise money. You need to raise money for buildings. You need to raise money for growth. You need to raise money for staff. You need to raise money for all kinds of things. If you're a church leader and you don't understand that you're in the money-raising business, you're going to struggle. Now, God has made it very easy. He's given us all this text to talk about generosity and giving.
We know that God designed us to be generous. To be generous means to but God first. But Paul equates money to seed and he literally connects the dots between sowing seed and multiplying. And so, as a church leader, I would implore you to study these two chapters. You will find many, many months of teaching and sermons and small group notes and discipleship classes and everything you want to do locked up in these two chapters.
2 Cor. 8-9 is probably, in the New Testament, the most foundational instruction that you can give the church. So I would, as a church leader, delve in and immerse yourself as deeply as you can into these two chapters and use those, because they set the foundation. They set the premise that not only should we be teaching and talking about money, but we should be challenging our congregations to give. And when we challenge people to give, that really starts to stir up things, and it gives us a great opportunity to take people on the journey of generosity. Use 2 Cor. 8-9, take the text seriously, take giving seriously, and it will work.
Read the full blog of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/preach-giving-appeal-2-corinthians
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly CEO Dean Sweetman explains how to preach a compelling giving appeal that grows church giving from 2 Corinthians 8-9.
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