Roger's Postings

Friday, February 11, 2011

2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Excessive Thanksgiving 13/2/11

(6) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. {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. {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. {9} As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." {10} Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. {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. {12} This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. {13} Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. {14} And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. {15} Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Today we focus our thoughts on the material gifts that God has given to us as his people. We take this one Sunday to specifically give thanks for these good things that we have received. Now traditionally we have focussed very much on the harvest and rural aspect of life in this, but more and more we are coming to see that this thanksgiving surely encompasses all the material gifts of life.

This then means that we here in this country have much to thank God for: Even though we are currently living in the midst of floods, cyclone and fires: Also that the prices for much of our basics of life are going up, we still have much to be thankful for. Then when we look across other areas of community life there is also much to be thankful for, in the midst of a few difficulties.

It is here however, that we need to stop for a moment and reflect on the point as to whether we deserve to have what we have and perhaps why we are experiencing some of the difficulties that we are facing at the moment. To that, we would have to say yes and no. Yes, we deserve to have the difficulties, and no, we don't deserve to have the good that we have.

Too often in this day and age we expect to have it good. It is our right to enjoy all the good things that we have and more. We have worked for it and we want it. Then when we haven't or can't have these things, we seem to get this idea that nothing less will do. There is in all of us, that something that says that we want and deserve to have it good. At the same time, we live and act as if God and what he has to say to us is of little importance. Instead, we think mostly of ourselves, our rights and our pleasures. With this as our attitude and thinking, we would have to say that we don’t deserve to have much of what we do have.

Yet despite this, we find that God has been exceedingly good to us. He has extended his grace, his undeserving love, to us in abundance; even if it is not as good as we may like. Since the Lord has been so good to us, despite our attitude and thinking, I would encourage you all to consider what God has to say to us here in this reading. He has given us all that we have, so that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, we will abound in every good work. [again]

Now I know that we often don’t want to hear this: We don't want to hear that the Lord has a purpose for giving us so much, and we like to think that it is given merely for ourselves and our own enjoyment; and that it is because we are good and have worked hard for it; that it is ours so that we can sit back and take life easy, being selfish and self-centred.

Here however, we are encouraged to realize that everything we have has been given to us, - yes, so that we can enjoy our good, great and generous God; but also, and particularly, so that we can share what he has given us with others around us. In fact, we are here now to carry in the work of our Lord and saviour. Or better still, to allow him to work through us so that others may come to know his Good News for them: to come to him as their Lord and Saviour as well. Then, the more that come to know him in this way, the more that thanksgiving will abound.

His grace; his goodness toward us, abounds so that thanksgiving may abound. This reading reminds us that God has been excessive in his blessings to us so that we can be excessive in our thanksgiving and sharing. Paul spells this out quite clearly how excessive we are to be in this when he says; in all things at all times. Every single moment of every single day, he says we will abound in every good work. Here notice that to us as Christians he doesn't say must or should, but will. Thanksgiving will be excessive because God has been excessive. It is a natural flow on. Because he has given us everything we need, we can, and will abound in every good work, in everything, at all times.

Our text is very clear about what this good work is that we will do: that is, to be generous with all that God has given us. He gives so that we can share with others. So he is not asking us to give of ourselves, which would be hard. It is not asking that we give reluctantly because we will have to go short ourselves to do so: Nor is it asking us be sparing in our sharing, in case there might not be enough to go around.

No, he is calling us to give freely and generously because he himself is providing: providing enough for us and for others. We only need to look around us to see how he has provided. We in this country, by and large have way in excess of what we really need.

In fact, he has provided so richly and generously, despite what our text says about those who sow sparingly will only reaping sparingly. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to say that we have been frugal in our sharing. So if what we see around us is reaping sparingly, imagine what things would be like if we were generous with what God gives. My mind finds it hard to grasp how much God would give, and how richly we would be blessed.

Now I must say in this regard; hasn’t it been great to see how Australia has responded to the needs of those people north of us who suffered so tragically in the floods. There has been an overflowing of generosity in this instance. Here we would have to say we have not missed out ourselves in any way; as we have so much already. Yet this generosity has brought so much relief and aid to those people, who in turn have been, I am sure, ever so thankful. Yes, a lot more needs be done in the months ahead, and will be done as a result of this generosity. Here again we can only say, thanks be to God for his indescribable gift; and we pray that it will in turn result in further thanksgiving by many others to God as well.

In the midst of this tragedy and the generosity that has followed, we pray that many people will come to see the working of God for good in the midst of a broken and hurting world. Most importantly that people will be drawn to see that in Jesus and his death on the cross, God has come to be with us and give us the forgiveness and one sure hope that we all need in the midst of this world’s problems.

And then with that amount of blessing, the thankfulness and praise that would go to the Lord would be just unbelievable: Then with the overflowing of God's gifts going from us to others, will come even further praise and thanksgiving. Our generosity, together with our confession of how gracious our Lord has been to us, will result in others coming to know Jesus and in turn giving thanks and praise.

So as we look around us, as to how richly God has blessed us and how much his grace abounds in our lives, despite our selfishness and often lack of sharing, let this be the beginning of an increase in our praise and thanks to our great God. Then together with that let us abound in good works, knowing that we have a God who has provided way in excess of what we need so that we can be generous at all times, in every way. We pray that this will the result in even more praise as others come to know the greatness of our God and saviour. Yes, let us remember that is what God is working toward with his goodness toward us.

Yes, he is a great and generous God. To him then be all praise and glory now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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