Excelling in Generosity
Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article for October, 2015
Now as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 2nd Corinthians 8:7
The Apostle Paul believed he was called by God to be a “Missionary to the Gentiles.” He travelled from town to town, far from the center of Jewish faith in Jerusalem, to carry the good news of Jesus Christ to people who had never heard it. Paul had formerly been a passionate opponent of the Christian Way; a Pharisee who apprehended many early Christian leaders and brought them to Jerusalem to be tried for heresy. Because of this, after he met Christ and became a Christian himself, many Christians continued to fear him. But he made his case to them, eventually received their blessing, and was instructed by them to take an offering wherever he went; an undertaking among the Gentiles to raise funds that could support the Saints in Jerusalem who were living under a severe persecution. Paul was glad – even eager – to do this.
In the letter known as Second Corinthians, Paul writes to this church he helped found, and commends them for their excellent discipleship. In faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness – even in the love the Apostle has for them – the Corinthians are described as excelling. But although Paul had asked for their support in this offering, they had yet to respond. These Corinthians have much to offer. Many of them are affluent citizens of a thriving trade town. Paul has a vision for them: that they might excel in generosity, just as they already excel in so many other ways.
“Now as you excel in everything… so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.” Paul encourages their generosity. More so, Paul encourages them to show excellence in generosity. He encourages us as well.
We too have much to offer. We are a capable people; an accomplished people. Many of us have positions of responsibility at work, generous salaries, and are able to live a lifestyle that our ancestors could only have imagined. We seek excellence – even demand excellence – in many aspects of our lives.
The question at hand is this: does our quest for excellence include our habits of generosity? Are we committed to give the very best that we can? Are we bold and generous supporters of the organizations that we find meaningful? Are we courageous and sacrificial in the support we offer to our home congregation?
This month and next we will be holding conversations at Saint Peter about Stewardship – the practice of managing everything that has been entrusted to us in a manner that is pleasing to God. As we consider this aspect of our spiritual lives, I encourage you to explore what it might look like for you to demonstrate excellence in generosity. This encouragement comes with a guarantee: as you grow in this aspect of your faithfulness, you will experience it both as a blessing to the organizations you support, and to yourself.
May God bless you with generosity, Pastor Dave