Archive for September 2018

The Grace of Giving

September 15, 2018

2 Corinthians 8 & 9 are radical texts that confront our traditional views on Christian giving. This is especially because NT giving is different from the OT system of assorted sacrifices, tithes and offerings,. Paul tells us in verse 5 of chapter 8 that the Macedonians had first given themselves to the Lord and then their gifts followed.

We live in a world where gifts are an easy form of manipulation. People give in order to receive (the whole panda mbegu philosophy, peddled around by prosperity gospel preachers rides on that). When a gift precedes a relationship, a few questions emerge – is this genuine love or manipulation?  Is it an advance payment for an expected ‘blessing’ or an expression of gratitude for the gospel and hence a willingness to serve the Lord with our Time, Talents and Treasures?

Sadly, we bring these worldly views into our worship of God with our treasures.  We use tithes and offerings as ‘check boxes’ of our godliness or as means to another end rather than an overflow of gratitude for our relationship with the Lord. When relationship (redemption) comes before the gift, then quantities and ‘labels’ [tithe, offering, first fruit etc] do not matter anymore.  The gift can be everything (Acts 4:32ff) or almost nothing (2 Cor 8 2). It can be a tenth, a third, a half, everything or nothing.

Let me illustrate this. For two lovers, a straw of grass given will be treasured dearly just as a huge bouquet of roses. It is never about the size of the gift but a matter of the heart.  Sadly, we can be tempted to go about our relationship with God by sending our gifts before our hearts.  The Macedonian church teaches us otherwise. For God so loved that He gave

You might want to evaluate your own generosity in light of this. Verse 9 is a helpful reason for all that Paul had said before…’For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ….’ this really is the basis of all our stewardship. I call it the ‘acid test’ of our giving/serving motives. If it is not done in light of the gospel, then perhaps it is not worship.

Excel in this grace of giving.

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Killing Sin

September 11, 2018

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

Last Sunday we were reminded that our Christian journey is comparable to running a race. It calls for much self-discipline and commitment. And yet those are two words that hardly survive in our modern vocabulary. Discipline is almost a dirty word that many people would rather not talk about unless they are referring to children. Commitment is almost an alien word in our world today where everyone seems to be concerned about their own interests.

The gospel is however counter-cultural. As we learnt last Sunday, the gospel calls us to live differently to the culture around us in order to stand out and win others to Christ. It also calls us to identify with the culture – being all things to all people, in order to win others for Christ.

But the overriding message is one of ‘beating our bodies into subjection’. It is a call to kill sin and it is a call to every believer in Christ. In our journey of sanctification, we will need to know and indeed fight the three enemies of every Christian – the flesh, the world and the devil. The most insidious of these however is the flesh and we need to be aware of that. An old theologian called John Owen paraphrased those words of Paul in Romans 8: 12 as: Be killing sin or it will be killing you.

But how do we go about killing sin? Paul tells us exactly how in Colossians 3: 1 – 17

  1. Setting our hearts and minds on things above. V1
  2. Living in light of the coming judgement V6
  3. Putting off worldly practices v8 -9
  4. Putting on the new self v10
  5. Bearing fruit of the new self v11-14
  6. Letting the peace of Christ reign in your heart. V 15.
  7. Being grateful v16, 17
  8. Letting the word dwell richly in you. V16
  9. Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs v16
  10. Acting in the name of the Lord. V17.

 

Go on and fight sin in your life.