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Giving yourself abundantly (discipleship) September 23, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Discipleship, Religion, Second Corinthians, Sermons, Stewardship.


II Corinthians 8:5-6

So far we have seen the part that joy plays in motivating our giving. We have also looked at the attitude of willingness that joy produces in our giving. Today we want to consider what it is that we actually should give. We must give ourselves totally to the Lord.


Paul realistically had expected a little help from the Macedonians in the benevolence offering that he was gathering for the Jerusalem church (verse 5a). Paul, of course, knew the Macedonians well. He had led many of them to the Lord. He knew the readiness with which many of them had received the gospel (for example, the church at Berea in Acts 17).

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2-8 we find an earlier description of some of these people. Paul was probably less than a month in Thessalonica before he was forced out of town. He had fond memories of these people. From the very beginning they received the gospel with joy even in the midst of great affliction. Paul says that in this they were imitators of him and Silas and Timothy as well as of Christ. In fact Paul had set himself up as an example before the church in Thessalonica and encouraged them to follow him, to imitate him and they had done so.

Because Paul had lived before them with joy in affliction he thought he knew what to expect of these believers. He thought that they would react in the area of giving in the way he reacted, laboring to meet this need in some way.


The Macedonians proved their discipleship by their obedience and surrender to God’s will. They gave themselves to God and to others (verse 5b). Instead of giving out of their ability, they out of their poverty gave themselves first to God and then to others and finally, gave financially.


First, you give yourself up to God. When you trust Christ as Savior you are no longer your own man. You belong to God. You are His.

Look back in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. In those verses Paul is explaining why it is possible to give ourselves to the Lord. “The love of Christ compels us… [to] …live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again.” In fact, Romans 14:7-9 points out that one of the reasons that Christ died is so that we might give ourselves totally to Him.

That is what discipleship is, totally giving yourself to another so that you might learn from Him how to live. Christ died so that you would give yourself to Him. He wants you to leave all and learn from Him.


Secondly, you give yourself up to the people of God. I belong to God and then I belong to you. Not because you pay me as your pastor but because Christ paid for me and made me a part of His body of which you also are a member. I know that some were uncomfortable last week with the statement I made about church membership. I have no desire to make you uncomfortable but you need to understand that you are not your own. You belong to the body of Christ.

Now you might say, “But Robert, the context is not the submission and commitment of individuals to the local church but rather the submission and commitment of three local churches to an apostle and his team of missionaries.” If you should say that, you would be absolutely correct. You see the real issue is submission and commitment to each other. It plays out in all kinds of ways. Between individuals. Between churches or groups of churches. Between congregations and leadership. Between churches and their supported missionaries. None of those relationships can replace the others. If I have a bad relationship with an individual in this church, I cannot make up for it by being a good pastor. If we have bad blood between us and another church, we cannot make up for it by being faithful to support our missionaries in Nigeria or Argentina. In the same way, my relationship to the body of Christ at large cannot replace my relationship to this local church. In every one of this relationships submission and commitment to Christ and to my fellow believers is demanded from me.


Finally, after giving yourself to God and giving yourself to fellow believers, then comes the practical parts of putting money in the offering plate, teaching Sunday School, etc.

John Piper put it this way, “It is possible to give gifts to people and to God, and yet keep yourself at a distance. Money, [and if I may interject, preaching, going to the mission field, doing evangelism, teaching Sunday School, church attendance, church membership, Awana service, cleaning the church, keeping the nursery, all these things] which ought to be an expression of personal commitment, can actually be a substitute for personal commitment. Paul does not want that kind of money [or that kind of service]. Of first importance is to give ourselves to God and to God’s people. Then our gifts will be pleasing to the Lord.”

(From John Piper’s Sermon – Christmas Joy and the Kirchensteuer)


Paul’s expectations have now changed (verse 6). True Christian performance is now expected (verses 8-11). He is not expecting what he had expected from the Macedonian churches. He is expecting the Corinthians to give of themselves. He knows that if they give of themselves, they will give generously to the benevolence offering for the Jerusalem church.

He expresses this first of all by saying in verse 8 “I want you to prove that you have given yourself to God. I want you to prove that you are a disciple, a learner of Jesus. I want you to prove that you are an imitator of Christ. Prove that you are living for Him. Prove that He is the Lord of your life.”

He does not ask them to give themselves to Christ, to live for Christ. As he mentions in chapter 5, that is a given. It should be a reasonable assumption that when someone says, “I am a Christian,” they have given themselves to Christ. In a way it is like dropping your maiden name. We knew a fellow once who had what we would call a dysfunctional family. This fellow met a young lady, fell in love with her, proposed and made plans to marry. He made an unusual request though. He said to her, “I love your family. Your father is more like a father to me than my father is. Your mother is more like a mother to me than my own mother. I want to take your family name to be my family name.” He asked his bride-to-be if he could take on her name. In other words, he dropped his “maiden” name and took on her name as the family name.

When we trust Christ, we take the name of Christ, it is reasonable for people to expect us to be totally loyal to him and to expect us to prove the legitimacy and sincerity of our love to Christ through our actions.


In verse 9 he appeals again to what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross. Everything that Christ did, He did for our sakes, to make us rich in joy and grace and love, to redeem us from our sin, and according to 2 Corinthians 4:13-18, to cause us to overflow in thanksgiving even in times of great trial. Look at these verses, especially noting verse 15. Paul is saying that the troubles we go through will be eternally worth while because of what Christ through grace has done for our sakes. We will be presented along with those to whom we minister to God’s glory for all eternity.

About a year ago I preached from this passage a sermon on avoiding burnout. If you are going to avoid burnout, you need to deny yourself, follow Christ, and serve others. According to verse 16, giving yourself to Christ will keep you eternally motivated.

If you are going to avoid burnout, you need to realize it is about Jesus revealed in you and not about your comfort. According to verse 17, giving yourself to Christ will reorder your priorities.

If you are going to avoid burnout, you need to realize that the eternal reward will be worth it. According to verse 18, giving yourself to Christ is evidence of an eternal perspective and not a temporary perspective.


In verses 10-11 he basically says, “Show your fruit.” There are many who do not want to judge others and sometimes that is the proper thing to do. It is, however, always appropriate to look at your own heart and life and see if you are bearing fruit. Are you proving your love for the Lord Jesus? If you are holding back in any area of obedience then your love is suspect. We should be able to see our own fruit better than anyone around us. We are after all the tree. What does your fruit show? Does it show a love for Christ or for someone else?


During the American Civil War there were in both armies, units of soldiers designated as provost guard. These men served as the military police and were engaged in all kinds of duties from guarding military prison camps to protecting boats that were unloading supplies. One of the tasks sometimes given to the provost guard was to prevent an unauthorized retreat. As soldiers clashed in battle, it was common for some to turn and run. If this was allowed too blatantly, discipline would be lost and the battle would be easily lost. The guard would stand behind the lines and when men began to retreat toward the rear of the army, the provost guard would prevent them with the cry, “Show blood”. If they could show a wound, they would be allowed to pass through. If they could not, they would be forced to return to the front lines to fight. My call to you today is, “Show blood.” Jesus Christ shed His blood for you. Show your love to Him and to His church by giving and serving and suffering, if necessary, for Him.


If you are not in the Lord’s army, you cannot show blood. If you are not planted in Christ Jesus, you cannot show good fruit. Jesus died for you that you might become one of His. He shed His blood to redeem you from sin. He wants to make you rich, to give you something eternally to live for but you must come through Him. No man comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. You must trust Him as your Savior for salvation.



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