************ Sermon on 2 Corinthians 9:6 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 27, 2019

2 Corinthians 9:6-11
2 Corinthians 9:6
"Be a Blessing"
Cadet Sunday 2019

I Sow Generously (vs 6 & 7a)
A Our Bible reading starts with an image from farming. Listen to what it says:
(2 Cor 9:6) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
One of the foods my wife and I like to eat is fresh beans. Beans that we grow and pick out of our garden. I have two packets of bean seeds with me ... Now, if I plant one bean seed in the garden, how many beans am I going to get for supper? Chances are my wife and I will have 2 or 3 beans each. What do I need to do if I want a plateful of beans? I need to plant a whole packet of bean seeds. You sow a few seeds, you get a little crop. You sow a lot of seeds, you get a big crop. Or, to use the word of our theme, you get a big blessing.

B Be a blessing. Paul sets two examples before us. The first example is the Lord Jesus Christ. How was Jesus a blessing?
(2 Cor 8:9) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
You know what Jesus did: He humbled Himself. He gave up His place of glory in heaven, He took on human flesh, He took the nature of a servant, He became obedient to death -- even death on a cross. And He did this for us. He became poor for our sakes so we can become rich in spiritual treasures.

The second example Paul puts before us is the Macedonians. On his third missionary journey the Apostle Paul not only preached the Gospel but he also collected money to relieve the poor believers in Jerusalem. Why was there such a great need in the Jerusalem church? We know that many of the believers had been visiting Jerusalem at Pentecost when they heard the Gospel and were saved. Many of these believers decided to stay in Jerusalem though they were strangers and without employment. In the early days of the church, the members had gladly shared with each other (Acts 2:41-47; 4:33-37); but now there was little left to share. There had also been a famine (Acts 11:27-30). Furthermore, we know there were a lot of widows in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1).

Paul made an appeal to help the poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. The Corinthians enthusiastically boasted that they would help, but after a year they had done nothing. The Macedonians, on the other hand, literally begged Paul for the opportunity to give:
(2 Cor 8:1-3) And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. (2) Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (3) For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
As I said, they wanted to give. They begged to be a blessing. And, they were a blessing. To use the words of our text, they sowed generously (HOLD UP SEED).

Paul is encouraging the Corinthian Christians to be like Jesus and the Macedonian Christians. He is encouraging them to be a blessing. He is encouraging them to plant lots of seed (HOLD UP SEED). He is encouraging them to give every week over a long period of time so that he will have a truck-load of money to take to the poor saints in Jerusalem who don't have enough for the basic necessities of life.

C Be a blessing. What exactly does this mean? Well, let me ask a couple of questions:
-Are you a blessing when you continually tease your sister?
-Are you a blessing when you throw you dirty clothes on the floor?
-Are you a blessing when you talk during class?
-Are you a blessing when you play on your phone?
When you plant these kinds of seeds, you aren't really a blessing, are you?

Be a blessing. Paul is talking about money and giving. Be a blessing by giving. But this is not all that is in mind. I found John Wesley's Rule for Christian Living in Christian History Magazine:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you can!
Doing good. That's being a blessing.

Boys, do you know a lonely kid -- in school or Cadets -- who needs a friend? Be a blessing by being kind, by being a friend.

Is there a boy who is always being picked on? Be a blessing by standing up for him.

Are you good at putting things together? Be a blessing by helping another Cadet with his project.

Be a blessing by setting the table or by walking the dog or by donating old clothes to the Rescue Mission. I have a grandson in South Dakota who is being a blessing by helping his parents shovel the snow.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and be a blessing. And don't say you are too young, too short, too tall, too weak. I came across a poem as I was studying for this message:
Try to think of all the words
That you could live without;
Make a list of all those words
And throw the worst word out.

It's not a very easy task,
You might just rave and rant;
But don't give up before you find
The worst bad word is "Can't."
Don't use that word "can't," Cadets. Don't think you can't be a blessing. Because in Christ, if you believe in Jesus, there is nothing you cannot do. In Christ, there is no limit to the blessing you can be to others. In Christ, there is no limit to the amount of seed you can sow (HOLD UP SEED).

D Be a blessing. Now notice the attitude you are supposed to have as you are a blessing:
(2 Cor 9:7) Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
I notice five things here.

First, when we are a blessing it is supposed to be voluntary. It is supposed to be from the heart. God only wants what comes from willing hearts.

This is nothing new. Remember what we read in Exodus when God commanded that Israel build the Tabernacle? The materials for the tabernacle were to be donations:
(Ex 25:2) Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.
Whatever Israel gave -- gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen; goat hair; ram skins; hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil; spices; onyx stones and other gems -- was supposed to be from the heart.

Second, when we are a blessing it is not to be reluctant. That word reluctant literally means with grief, with sorrow, with sadness. Those who are reluctant find it painful to be a blessing because they don't really want to do it. They are doing it, they are being a blessing, but they are sad about it. They regret the good they are doing because of the time it takes or the money it requires or because they rather do something else.

Third, when we are a blessing we are not to be under compulsion. God does not want forced giving. God does not want you to be a blessing because your parents or teachers or counselors or elders expect you to be a blessing. God does not want pastors laying guilt trips on the congregation -- whether it is giving, worship attendance, volunteering your time, or whatever.

Fourth, when we are a blessing, we have thought about it. It is something we have decided to do. We don't act on an impulse. It is not a response to an emotional appeal. It is something we have thought about, meditated upon, and prayed about.

Fifth, when we are a blessing, we are cheerful. No grief. No sorrow. No sadness. Rather, we are joyful and happy we can be a blessing. We are joyful and happy we can sow many seeds (HOLD UP SEED). God wants hearts that are thrilled with the pleasure of being a blessing.

Jesus was all of this: voluntary, not reluctant, not under compulsion, thought it through, joyful. Do you think God would have accepted Jesus' blood if Jesus was a reluctant sacrifice? Do you think God would have accepted Jesus' work at the cross and grave if He was dragged there kicking and screaming? Do you think Jesus would have been a blessing if His work as Redeemer was forced upon Him?

II Reaping the Harvest - vs 7b & 8
A Be a blessing. When that happens, when you are a blessing, when you sow generously (HOLD UP SEED), a big harvest results. Listen to what Proverbs says about this:
(Prov 11:25) A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

(Prov 11:18) The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.
God blesses those who bless others. That's what Proverbs says.

What is the harvest? What are the benefits. Let me mention two of them tonight.

B The first blessing of being a blessing is love from God. The first blessing of being a blessing is love from God. Look at verse 7. What does God love? "God loves a cheerful giver." I can't imagine a more precious harvest than to be the special object of God's love. All the riches of this world, all the recognition of the world, all the prestige of the world, does not mean nearly as much as the love of God.

We know God loves the world in a certain way. We know He love His people, the elect, in an even more wonderful way. But even among His own, there are some for whom God has an even more special affection. Paul tells us God loves a cheerful giver. The Greek word is "agape." This is the strongest word for love, the one we use to celebrate how and why God redeems us and saves us.

God has a strong and deep affection for those who are a blessing.

Are you a blessing? God loves you with a special and abiding love. Do you go out of your way to help others? God loves you with a special and abiding love. Do you give generously of your time and money and talents? God loves you with a special and abiding love. Are you planting lots of good seed (HOLD UP SEED)? God loves you with a special and abiding love.

C The second blessing of being a blessing is God gives abounding grace. Look at verse 8:
(2 Cor 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
The idea is that there is no limitation to the good you can do. There is no limit to the blessing you can be. There is no limit to the seed you can sow.

This runs contrary to what the world says. The world says the more you give away the less you have -- less time, less money, less energy. But when we give to God, when we are a blessing, we are promised not less but more.

Why? Because God has power. Because there is nothing God cannot do. Or, as our passage puts it, because "God is able." God is able. This is one of the great statements found in the Bible. We find it used by Daniel's three friends just before they were thrown into the fiery furnace:
(Dan 3:17) If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
Daniel's three friends know and believe God is able to rescue them. Paul writes in Ephesians 3,
(Eph 3:20) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us ...
Jude has this to say:
(Jude 1:24) To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy ...
He is able. He is able. He is able. He is powerful. He is almighty. So He was able to give a baby to an elderly Abraham and Sarah, to an elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth. So He was able to make a virgin conceive and bear a son. So He was able to part the waters of the Red Sea and make the walls of Jericho come tumbling down. So He was able to raise His Son from the grave. He is able.

When you are a blessing God is able. Able to do what? Able to make you even more of a blessing. Able to give you abounding grace. Able to make you abound in every good work. Able to meet the demands of your generous heart. Able to make you more like Christ!
(2 Cor 9:11) You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

So boys, I want you to plant seeds. Not one or two. But many (HOLD UP SEED). So that you will be a blessing. A big blessing to those around you.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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