What we work for

Finding joy in what we do – what we work for
Small group, MBC, May 11, 2014
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST PART OF BUDGETING?
Most of us were taught at a young age about the virtue of saving money. During uncertain economic times, this notion moves from being more than a virtue – it is a necessity. The virtuous nature of saving, though, dissipates when we hold on to our money and assets at the expense of others. WE DO NOT EARN MONEY JUST TO HAVE MONEY; WE EARN MONEY TO MEET OUR NEEDS AND THE NEEDS OF OTHERS.
Why people work.
1. To serve upwardly
Most people—again, I said “most”—tend to believe that we are each made. I sure do. I also believe we were not made so that we can feel entitled, be taken care of from cradle to grave, or lay on the couch watching TV not contributing to this world. Only when we work do we create, and only when we create—build stuff, fix things, solve problems, imagine, invent, and implement—do we honor the One who made us. To do anything less just isn’t right. Anyone disagree?
2. To serve outwardly
Whether it’s assisting a grandmother in finding just the right toy for her grandson, a doctor or nurse helping a patient to heal, or a highway worker fixing that bad pothole so you and I can have a smooth ride, each is engaging in an “act of service.” And when we serve others by helping them reach their goals and adding value to their life, we’re using our mind and body in a meaningful way. Only by working can we do all that.
3. To serve inwardly
It’s when I work that I avoid boredom, discover my purpose, and gain recognition from others. (And, honestly, who doesn’t like a little praise now and then?)
In other words, when I work, I add value to my life—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“When I play victim, feeling the world owes me, who am I serving?” Then, before anyone can respond, I warn them, “Be careful with your answer!” I add that because if I don’t, someone will say, “Me!”
Nope.
When I play victim, there’s no way I am sharpening my skills, acquiring new capabilities, honing my talents, and experiencing those wonderful intangibles that make life good.
It’s true …
Plus, it’s hard to “take pride in our work” when we haven’t done any!
So, in summary, we work to serve our Creator, people, and ourselves. But lest anyone think I am crazy, And it’s great to get paid, too. It’s just not one of the first three reasons we work.
In our passage today, the churches in Macedonia had been collecting an offering to help with the needs of the poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem. The church at Corinth was to participate in this offering, but Paul needed to encourage them to follow through with their gift. He used the example of the Macedonian churches, who gave out of poverty, to challenge the Corinthians to excel in the grace of giving.
God has entrusted us with money resources. Let’s examine why.
READ 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 GENEROSITY COMES FROM INSIDE US.
The Macedonians were known for generosity, not because they had limitless resources, but because they had the grace of God.
DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS VERY GENEROUS? WHY ARE THEY THAT WAY?
Grace was a theme in chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians. Grace is most fully seen in Jesus’s sacrifice for us, but it is also seen by hearing God’s Word – through which God seeks to reconcile us to Himself. But this grace is the sacrificial, spontaneous generosity demonstrated by the Macedonians (a region which included the Philippians, Thessalonians and Bereans)– even despite their deep poverty (some were literally beggers). Paul contrasted their economic situation to the wealth of their giving (lavish or abundant). It wasn’t money – it was spiritual blessings (since they had no money). Material wealth can and often does mask spiritual poverty and it works the other way around. The Macedonians showed they understood where their treasure was:
READ Matthew 6:20-21
WHERE IS YOUR TREASURE?
SHOW A $5 BILL. WHAT ARE SOME WAYS TO USE THIS SMALL AMOUNT OF MONEY TO SHOW GOD’S LOVE TO SOMEONE?
TAKE A $5 BILL THIS WEEK AND SHOW GENEROSITY SOME WAY THIS WEEK.
READ 2 Corinthians 8:3-7
IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN GIVING OUR HEARTS TO GOD AND GIVING TO HELP PEOPLE?
The churches of Macedonia were not defined by their affliction, but how they responded to it. They did not see themselves as victims of their poverty – rather, they were victors who saw what others might have seen as an disadvantage as opportunity. The Macedonians serve as an example of how to give generously when the economy or economic situations are grim. HOW CAN WE DO THE SAME TODAY?
The Macedonians begged insistently to give an offering to those who needed it. Consider these factors to HOW TO BE GENEROUS:
1. They gave over and above their ability.
2. Their giving was from the heart and not compulsory. They saw it as a privilege. The word diligence can be translated as eagerness, earnestness, zeal or devotion.
3. They gave with the right attitude – they sought the need and met it.
4. They gave themselves to the Lord first.
To follow Christ is to be a part of the entire body of Christ. If the church is universal, and one part is suffering, we are all suffering. That is why the Macedonians wanted to be a part of what was needed – the Corinthians had yet to learn that. Paul never actually mentions money directly – he was communicating a greater concept – ministering to the needs of others. Paul wanted the Corinthians – and us – to learn this practice.
READ 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 GENEROSITY IS OUR RESPONSE TO GOD’S LOVE TO US
Paul gives us his theological rationale for giving. He was not issuing a command like he had done in his first letter to the Corinthians. WHY NOT?
Instead, he was appealing to the spiritual interests of his readers to give. And he was giving them an ability to test the authenticity of their faith. Testing = approved, examined, found worthy. He was testing their diligence and their genuineness. And then he hit them with the ultimate…
Jesus is the highest example of giving. He gave up the riches of Heaven so that you and I could become rich in Christ’s forgiveness and mercy.
The Corinthian church was faced with the same theological question we are faced with – how can we shut our eyes to the needs around us?
(Page 34) What ministries motivate you to give? Evangelism, student ministry, ministry to the needy, children’s ministry, supplies, adult ministry, discipleship, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, singles, etc.?
What now?
1. Acknowledge that you are not the center of the universe. Selfishness and pride are the issues that keep us from being generous.
2. Re-prioritize your spending. Decide on what you really need and what you can do to be generous this month.
3. Tithe on Sunday.

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