Justice and the Poor

Exploring Lessons From Bible Verses About Giving To The Poor

Dan Franklin
Oct 30, 2022    41m
Have you ever wondered what God calls us to do with our money? Bible verses about giving to the poor contain lessons that challenge us to explore our hearts and to give to others according to our means. Video recorded at Upland, California.

More From This Message

Life Bible - Justice and the Poor
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] Amen. Good morning church family. So before getting into this great passage that we just got to hear Allie read for us, I wanted to start off just with a compliment. You know, our family does this sometimes, we get together and we just give each other compliments. And one of the things that's cool is that, you know, has anybody ever been at a time in your life where you're like, I can't use a compliment right now? But the other cool thing about it when we do it is that we all sort of realize, hey, I had a compliment for this person sitting there and I just didn't say it because it just didn't occur to me.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:53] And so here's what I want to say, we are in the eighth week of the series through Justice and Mercy. As we've gone through it, a lot of you have come up to me and I know others and have said, I'm so glad we're doing this series, this is really good. But I also want to recognize this is a challenging series. It's challenging just in the sense that each week we're coming to this and we're saying, all right, what's required of me? If justice and mercy really are sort of at the center of how we show the world that we belong to Jesus and how we walk with Jesus, there's a lot being asked of me, and so we're constantly wrestling with what's being asked of me. And beyond that, we're also wrestling, and I know some of you are sort of wrestling with just the whole like, what does this mean with my attitude towards others? And maybe I'm feeling like there's some baggage that I'm carrying around that now I need to deal with before the Lord, and that's good and that's healing, but that's not easy.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:45] And so here's the compliment that I want to give. I have been really blessed over the past seven, or eight weeks, of just the conversations that I've had with so many of you, where you are in a godly, prayer-filled way, genuinely leaning into the discomfort that the series has brought. And I know for some of you it has, you've come up and you're like, I wasn't thrilled when I found out this was the fall series, I felt a little uncomfortable, I wasn't sure where it was going. But as we've got into Scripture, you've made the choice to lean in. I was just having a conversation with somebody last week who was saying, you know, I have this extended family member and we're always debating politics, and I think he's wrong and he thinks I'm wrong and wrestling with all of that and talking not so much about I need to change my politics to adjust to him, but I need to radically change my attitude towards him. This is the kind of stuff, this is where God is at work, and it gets me so excited. So I just wanted to say I know for every conversation that I've had, there's probably five or ten that you're having that in your life group, or you're just genuinely wrestling through that before the Lord. So I just want to say, good job for leaning in, good job for choosing to lean in, that's where God brings growth, and let's keep leaning in as we finish the last three weeks of this series.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:04] And just because we have been going through some hard topics, I thought we would take a break this week and instead talk about money. So it'll be easy, right? In fact, I was thinking about it this week, because I'm serious, we are going to talk about money. I was thinking, you know, every time we do this, there's somebody here, there's some of you here that you're probably like, this is my first time here, what a week to come when it's your first time. And even for some of you, you have baggage, because maybe you were involved in a church that talked a lot about giving and wasn't responsible with money. So you're like, I don't like these topics. As a church, first and foremost, we don't apologize for talking about anything that the Bible talks about, anything that Jesus talks about. So I have no apology to you that we're talking about money today, Jesus talked a lot about it, we've got to talk about this. But I do want to say if either coming into this sermon or if afterward, you feel like, all right, there are some things I got to wrestle with, or there are just some hard things that have come up, I want to talk, I want to know more about how Life Bible Fellowship Church handles this. Absolutely, reach out to me or any of the staff members and we would love to sit down with you because we know there is baggage and there are questions surrounding this.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:13] But I've got good news for you when it comes to this topic, and here's the good news. There's a part of this topic that is not controversial at all, that there's really no debate among scholars. And so here's how it ties in, we're talking about justice and mercy, and when talking about justice and mercy and talking about the subject of how we use our money, and how that ties into justice and mercy, we're typically talking about the poor and the needy, we're talking about people that have a lack. And so here's the good news, there is no controversy amongst biblical scholars about the calling that we have when it comes to the poor and the needy, it is 100% obvious in the Bible are calling is to generosity, Genesis to Revelation, Old Testament to New Testament, that is crystal clear. So we get to start with that, and probably even most of you in here today, you're like, yeah, I came in with that in mind, that generosity is a characteristic that the Bible and God prizes, and that's important for me to have. So we have that framework right, generosity is very important when we're talking in general, and in particular when we're talking about how we respond to people who are poor and needy.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:26] But the really cool thing that we get in this passage, is we get the Apostle Paul not only giving a command to be generous but giving us a framework for generosity. And I genuinely believe that there's a lot of you here that you're going to come into this saying, yeah, I'm ready, I want to be generous, but you don't sort of have the framework that's empowering you to do it or the tools that are helping you to follow through. And that's what we're going to get.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:53] And so one more thing to say before we jump into the passage, and that's this, when we look at a passage like this and when we look at the idea of sort of giving to the poor, sometimes we can have in our minds that there's two different categories for giving, that we give to the church and that we give to the poor. And what I want to let you know is in the New Testament, that was not separate categories, the assumption was you give to the church and as you're pooling your money together, that money goes to the poor in the congregation and beyond the congregation. And so the reason that I'm bringing that up, and by the way, that's what we look to practice as a church, all of our local outreach partners, they are supported by the money that we pull together as a church, and that it goes out overseas and locally. And so the reason I wanted to say that is because I'm going to be talking a lot about our giving to the church, because that's what Paul talks about in this passage. That is not separate from our giving to the poor that is tied in, we might give over and above, we might give to charities or needy people in our lives, but when we think about how God has called me to be generous to the needy, that is not separate from our discussion about how we give within the church. And Paul gives us a framework of how we give of our generosity.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:10] There are going to be three elements to this framework. I'll tell you them now, and then we'll walk through the passage. We're going to talk about the source of our generosity, we're going to talk about the factors of generosity, and then we're going to talk about the goal of generosity.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:27] And so we start with the source, and this comes in. Oh, yeah, I should have said the main point of the whole message. This is how this ties into the series, one of the curious things we're going to see is that generosity to the poor doesn't just flow out of mercy, but flows out of justice also.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:46] And so here's where we start, all right, so we start with the source of generosity, and this is in verses 8 and 9 of Second Corinthians 8. I apologize, some of you may have already turned there, if you have a Bible turn there now, that's where we're going to be. So Second Corinthians chapter 8 verse 8, the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians says, "I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others."

Dan Franklin: [00:08:13] So we're jumping into the middle of a book, jumping into the middle of a chapter, here's what's going on here. In the first seven verses of Second Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul talked about how he was calling the Corinthians to make a financial gift. The Corinthians right now are experiencing some abundance, and so he's calling them to give to believers in Jerusalem, to give an offering that's going to be brought to believers in Jerusalem who are poor and who are struggling. And as he's calling them to do that, he's also talking about the fact that another congregation in Macedonia did this same thing, they generously gave so that believers in Jerusalem could be taken care of. And he holds up the Macedonians as an example, that's why he says, I'm comparing and testing the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. He says, Look at what the Macedonians did, that's a good example for all of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:06] But just look at the very first words of this verse because this is important. He says, I am not doing what? I am not commanding you. Hold on to that, that's going to be a theme throughout this passage. Paul is very resistant to just telling them exactly what to do with their money, he doesn't want to command, he wants to invite. And that even, I think, leads him into verse 9, which is a beautiful verse. And by the way, a great Christmas verse as we think of Advent beginning in about a month. And so I'm not sure what's going on with the slides, guys, but let's go on to verse 9. Verse 9 says this, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.".

Dan Franklin: [00:10:00] Now, here's the deal, we've talked about this throughout the series. So, all right, this is ten weeks on justice and mercy, but justice and mercy is not the main topic we're talking about in any of these ten weeks. As always, the main character of every sermon that we give here at this church is Jesus Christ. Jesus is at the center of everything. And so I love this, Paul has this section on giving, and guess who the main character is? It's Jesus. He says, remember, "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich." And we're not just talking Elon Musk rich, we're talking Son of God rich; we're talking about the riches of fellowship with the Father and the Spirit, and the riches of the worship of angels, that kind of rich. "Though he was rich, yet for your sake, he became poor."

Dan Franklin: [00:10:58] And we know he was poor because he was born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger. And we know he was poor because later on in his life, he said the Son of Man, has nowhere to lay his head, so a wandering preacher. But at a more fundamental level when it says that he became poor, here's what this means, the eternal Son of God took on human flesh and got hungry and got thirsty and got tired and got frustrated and got abandoned and then eventually got executed. The one who was rich became poor. Why? So that you, through his poverty, through his suffering, might become rich. The central message when it comes to giving or when it comes to anything in our lives, is that we look to the Gospel of Jesus and we remember that He, who was rich, became poor, so that we, through His poverty, might become rich.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:59] And here's what I want to make sure we get. In some ways, we could look at this and we could say, well, Paul is bringing this up because he wants us to follow Jesus’ example in generosity. And that's certainly true, has anybody ever been more generous than Jesus? No way. But I don't think that's the main reason why Paul is bringing Jesus up here, I think he's bringing him up not simply as an example for generosity, but by telling us this is the standpoint which we start that allows us to be generous. Do you know why you are enabled to be generous? Because you are rich. He who was rich became poor, so that we, through His poverty, might become rich."

Dan Franklin: [00:12:41] If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, first and foremost, know this this morning, you are rich. You have an inheritance in heaven that cannot be taken away, you have God as your Father, and he will never leave you or forsake you. You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, empowering you, and teaching you and comforting you. You have brothers and sisters in Christ who are going to go through life's journey with you. You have God's Word to instruct you and enable you. And you have every sin that you've ever committed, forgiven, and taken away forever. Anybody glad this morning that Jesus has forgiven your sins? You are rich, and because you're rich, you're enabled to be generous.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:33] Let me look to illustrate this, tomorrow's Halloween, so here's what I want you to imagine, imagine you're a ten-year-old kid at a Halloween party. And so you're at this party and you're one of the older kids because you're ten, and so you sort of know the strategies for getting the best kind of candy throughout the night. And they're going to have a pinata, so they got the pinata set up, and you're sort of like, I've been down this road before, I know how I'm going to get my stash. The pinata gets broken, candy goes everywhere, and you go in with your bag and you end up with a good healthy set of candy. And you worked the system, you got a whole bunch of candy, but you are looking around and some of the younger kids are a little bit bummed out because they don't know the system yet, they didn't know how to do it, so they're kind of walking around with just their five or six pieces of candy and they're a little bit bummed out, but you've got your good stash. And then your parents come up to you and they say, hey, I don't know if you noticed some of the younger kids didn't get as much candy and so do you know what would be really nice? It'd be really nice if you took some of your candy and gave it to them. Now, here's the deal, if you're a ten-year-old, you're just like, you've got to be kidding me. I mean, at ten, I'm not sure what goal goes higher than getting candy, and so going to a ten-year-old and saying you should give some away, this is a big ask. And as a ten-year-old, you might even be like, well, I feel like I should, but really, you're going to ask me to do this. So then your parents say this, they say, I know this is a big ask, I know this is hard for you to do, but here's why we think that it's reasonable for you to do this. I don't know if you noticed, but at home, we've got a lot of candy for Halloween. I mean, we got a lot of candy at our house. We are not going to run out of candy, you are going to have all the candy you can handle, we've got plenty, and by the way, it's the good candy. If you're looking at that bag you got there, let's be real, some of the candy in there is kind of trash. I saw some candy corn in there, I don't even know why they make that anymore. And so here's the deal, you've got less candy and less great candy, can you give away some of that knowing that when we get home, you're going to have all the candy that we can handle and it's going to be the good kind of candy. And do you know what suddenly you can do? You're like, sure, a little kid coming up and they're like, oh, you got one of those, can I have one? And you're like, sure, take it. And they're like, well, do you want me to trade? And you're, No, don't worry about it, just take it, I'm happy to give it to you. And you keep doing this, and eventually one of the kids comes up to you and says, well, why? Why are you doing this? Why are you giving away all your candy? And you say, Well, here's the thing, my parents let me know that at our home we have all the candy that I can handle, I'm never going to run out, I'm going to have plenty of candy, and it's the really good kind of candy, so I'm fine with giving this away. And the kid says, well, that must be nice, I wish I could get in on that. And then you say, I'm sure it would be okay with my parents. Which, by the way, if you're a parent right now, your blood pressure just went up in this illustration because maybe you've had your kid do that before, and you're like, don't put me on the hook. But not this time, because the parents say, absolutely, anybody who wants to come is more than welcome, there's plenty for all.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:40] You have riches in heaven that make everything here pale in comparison. Jesus is calling us to give away our candy corn, knowing where the real treasures are and that no thief can break in and steal them, and no moth can ever destroy them. We give not simply because we're commanded to do so, we give because we are rich in Christ, and that is our source for giving.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:09] And then verses 10 through 12. Paul moves on to the factors for giving, this is a very helpful and a very practical section where he's just going to give three factors that work into our giving. The first two factors are going to be in verses 10 through 11, and I'll bring them up, he says, "And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means." All right, so you may have seen it, two factors for giving in these two verses, we'll see the third and verse 12 in a few minutes.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:52] Factor number one, it's real simple what Paul talks about, factor number one is simply willingness. He's already alluded to this; this is why he's so resistant to command them exactly what to give. He says, good news, Corinthians, back when we first raised this subject last year about this generous gift that we were going to give to the believers in Jerusalem, you are not only the first to say you were going to give, you are the first to have the desire to do so, you have the willingness, that's there. And Paul is not just saying this to sort of pump them up, he really means it. He says this is good, he is complimenting them, saying, you were willing, and that's the first step. God wants a people who are willing to give. In fact, Second Corinthians 8 is very closely tied to the next chapter, chapters 8 and 9 are sort of one section about generosity and about giving. And in chapter 9, verse 7, here's what we read, we read, "God loves a cheerful giver." A willing giver, God wants willing givers. So we come to this, first of all, and we say, all right, step number one is that I want to be willing to give.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:09] Just to start right there, and a quick survey right now, when I do this, don't raise your hand if you don't mean it, I'm not trying to just get everybody to do the same thing. But I just want to ask right now, all right, in this room right now, I want to ask you to raise your hand if you'd say, you know what, I don't know how it's all going to work out, I don't know percentages, I don't know amounts, I don't know the plan, but I am willing to take the extra that God has given to me and to help those in need. All right, a whole bunch of us who are willing. And once again, Paul says, that's good, that's where we need to start, is just the willingness.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:41] Quick. I'm going to take just like a two-minute quick tangent right here and just talk about this, because sometimes when we talk about these things and this Justice and Mercy series, there have been questions about like, well, how does this fit into policy and how we should vote? Is there anything to learn from this? And I want to say just a couple of things, there are certain voting things that seem closer to us getting some guidance on Scripture, to say all right scripture seems to guide us more clearly in this direction. When it comes to sort of financial policy, that's trickier to do. You can have Christians that are big believers in bigger taxes so that there's more sort of government prevention for people who are poor and needy, and you can have Christians that believe in very, very small government and low taxation so that people can just give charitably, both are acceptable Christian positions to hold. But here's the warning that I want to give, I want to give a warning to anybody who feels like the way that this is played out is by voting for bigger taxes so that poor people are taken care of and the richer people are taxed more. The warning that I want to give is this, if you vote that way, that's acceptable, that's an acceptable Christian position to hold, don't be deceived into thinking that by voting that way you are being generous. That's not generosity, it is not generosity to vote that somebody else's money is confiscated from them to give to someone else. You might think it's good policy, and that's fine, don't trick yourself into thinking that's how generosity is played out. Generosity is played out when you willingly take from what God has provided for you in order to give to those who are in need, don't be deceived and think I've done enough because of how I voted. Which, by the way, if you're on the other side and you're like, I've done my job, I voted for all these taxes to be taken away, so everybody's going to keep their own money. You still haven't actually done anything to help the people in need. We start with the willingness, that's the first factor.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:44] The second factor is embedded in this, the second factor we'll just call execution. He says, hey, here's the deal, you are willing to do it, do you know what it's time to do now? Like actually do it. There had been something that had prevented them, they had been willing, their hearts were in the right place, but they hadn't yet put it into practice, they hadn't yet executed it. So Paul says, all right, now it's time to do that. The willingness is there, and that's where we start, the execution needs to happen.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:09] And here's something that I think is important for all of us, there are all kinds of roadblocks that keep us from giving. For some of you, really, the main roadblock isn't even your willing heart, you are willing in your heart. You just don't have a plan, so you're not doing it. And at the end of each month, you're sort of like, I wish we had more to give, but we don't have anything to give because we already spent all of our money. For some of you, the most spiritual thing, and I mean this hundred percent, the most spiritual thing that you're going to do in response to this sermon is to make a budget. For some of you, the most spiritual thing that you're going to do is you're going to sit down and say, what is my income? How does all this work? What are all the expenses? And how can we plan in advance to give? You don't usually accomplish important things without a plan. Try losing weight without a plan. Try starting even with the Bible reading plan, we have a plan that we hand out. And I always say to people, like, if you have another plan, that's fine, I'm not saying our plan for Bible reading is the best plan. I'm saying our plan for Bible reading is better than your non-plan for Bible reading. Make a plan. Paul says, All right, it's time to execute. For some of us, the reason we are not more generous is simply because we haven't planned to do so. And God will call us to be spontaneous, they are right in the moment situations where you don't have time to plan, and you just give. But plan to give, decide in your heart what God has called you to give.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:36] And then he alludes to a third factor, he kind of mentions it at the end of verse 11 when he says, "According to your means.", but he brings it out more in verse 12. In verse 12, he says, "For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have." So factor number one is willingness. Factor number two is execution. Factor number three is ability. The gift is acceptable, and that means acceptable to God, not based on what you don't have, but based on what you do have. Which means that the kind of generosity God is calling you to practice is not the kind of generosity that you would have if you were a billionaire, it's the kind of generosity that you would have if you had your exact income. God is calling you to be generous according to your means, so you don't need to get down on yourself, you don't need to be like, well, I heard about this other person, this other Christian that's given away millions and millions of dollars and I'm not doing that because I don't have that kind of money. Don't worry about it. God knows what you have. God knows what you can give. Don't get stuck by thinking about what you're not able to give, focus on what you can give, focus on your ability.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:00] And another note, because some of you might wonder about this. At Life Bible Fellowship Church, we not only don't teach a specific amount to say this is the lump sum that you should give each month, we don't teach a percentage either. Some of you are like, what about the tithe? What about 10%? That's an Old Testament concept for Israel, if you want to use the principle of the tithe today, I'll be honest Karina and I, we use the principle of the tide today, it's not required by scripture. So there's no magic amount, and there's no magic percentage, I'll talk a little bit about this more later. But some of you are like wahoo, I thought it was 10% and I just found out it's not, I'm off the hook. Here's what I want to make sure to say, the poorest Israelite was required to give, how much? 10%. We are living in the richest country in the history of mankind, the reason that Karina and I started with 10% as a baseline and then give over and above that, is because we don't feel okay in our conscience about saying I think that God is requiring less from us under grace in the richest country in the history of humanity than he did from the Israelites. And once again, I'm not saying if you're giving less than 10%, that's not a clear sin, I'm just saying I don't think that Paul intends for us to look at the situation and be like, oh, good, the bar is lowered, that's not a right response to this. But we give according to our ability.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:28] And so I want to say, for the teenagers, if you're in junior high or high school or some of you are even younger than that, you might right now look at it and be like, I could give a couple of bucks, like, that's not doing anything, that's not helping anyone. Give according to your ability, and don't wait, thinking down the line when I have money, I'll give. Most people who are waiting until they feel financially secure before they start giving have a very hard time flipping that switch. If you're like I can give like a dollar a month. Start giving a dollar a month. And if you're like I don't have that excuse, I'm an adult with a steady job, but I feel like right now, like maybe we could just start doing like 50 bucks a month and I'm embarrassed about it. You know what, sowing $50 a month towards the work of God is better than sowing nothing. Start somewhere.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:18] This is the same with Bible reading. I talk to people sometimes and they're like, I know I'm supposed to be reading the Bible every day and I don't read it all. And I'm just like, All right, don't start trying to read the Bible every day, start, like, two times a week. Just like, get in the game, yes, you want to be reading the Bible every day. So you might look at it right now and say, well, I feel like I should get up to that 10%. That's great if you want to get up to the 10%, don't wait, and don't try to go 0 to 10, start giving 2%, start giving something, get in the game, and start giving according to your ability. And as you're faithful with a little, God will lead you to what's ahead. He says, all right, here are real practical factors, be willing, have the willingness in your heart to give, execute that, get a plan, get it done, and give according to your ability, and don't get caught up in the fact that maybe you're not giving as much as someone else. Give according to your ability.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:11] But there's one more movement in this sermon, and it's really important, it comes in verses 13 through 15, and that's the goal of generosity. We'll look at verses 13 and 14 first, and here's what it says, Paul says, "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality." All right, the goal is equality. This is kind of a curious thing, and this is what brings this a little bit more out of the mercy discussion and into the justice discussion, which might surprise us. Like this is charity, when I give to the church or when I give to somebody who's poor, it's not because I owe them that money, that would be justice. I don't owe them that money, I give it to them out of the goodness and overflow of my heart. But Paul starts talking about it in justice lingo.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:17] He says, all right, here's the deal, Corinthians, my goal is not that suddenly the Jerusalem believers get rich, and you get poor because you've given them all your money, he says, that's not what I'm wanting to have happen, I'm wanting you to give out of your abundance to bring the poor up to the level. That's what he's talking about when he's talking about equality, and that starts to make us nervous because it starts to feel like an obligation. But I want you to remember what Paul has resisted doing this entire time, he has resisted giving a command. He keeps saying, I want to invite you to this, but I'm going to be honest with you, Corinthian, the goal is equality. And he illustrates it in verse 15 with an Old Testament example, he says, "As it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:09] Now I know I have the advantage of having studied all this, but anybody, just in hearing this, does anybody have a guess of what Old Testament event he's referring back to there? All right, good, a bunch of you said it. Manna, it's when God provides manna for the Israelites when they're in the wilderness, bread from heaven to meet their needs. And here's how the whole thing worked with manna, God would provide the bread, just bread would show up in their campsite. Each day they would gather up their daily bread, what they needed for that day, and then the next day God would provide more daily bread. And the whole way that it worked is if you had a big family, you'd go out and you'd gather as much as you needed for your big family, and if you had a small family, you'd go out and gather whatever you needed for your own small family. That's why it talks about the idea of, all right, those who gathered a whole bunch, they didn't have too much, those who gathered a little, they had enough, everybody was taken care of according to their needs. But what didn't happen, was that God told the Israelites, if you open up your tent and whatever's closest to your tent and not anybody else's tent, that belongs to you, he didn't say that. It might be right outside your tent, but it belongs to someone else because they have a family of 16 that they're trying to feed, and you have a family of four that you're trying to feed. He gave it all, and that it was meant to cover the whole nation.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:27] Which brings up the idea a little bit, I think this is the picture that Paul is looking to paint. He's painting the picture that this is how it works in the church today, God, instead of just giving in every single person's tent or in their bank account precisely what they need, he scattered it around to Christians all over the world, and we are meant to look at what we have and say, maybe this isn't for me because I've got enough. Maybe this actually belongs to somebody else, because in their tent they didn't have it right outside, that's what he's talking about with the equality. And I love, if you look back in verses 13 and 14, one of the things that Paul previews, is he says, all right, right now, Corinthians, you have the abundance, they have the lack, so you're going to give to them. And he says, do you know what will probably happen in the future? Probably the Jerusalem believers will have an abundance, Corinthians, you'll have a lack, and you know what's going to happen then? They're going to give it to you to bring you up to the level so that there may be equality.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:07] I want to ask this question, and I know it can feel personal, but I hope you'll be willing to participate. How many of you in here, at some point in your life, have been the beneficiary of the generosity of others when you've been in need? All right, a whole bunch of us, I'm raising my hand because Karina and I are absolutely included in that. Now, the second question for the survey is, how many of you have, at some point in your life, been blessed with an abundance so that you were able to benefit somebody else in need? All right, did you guys notice how a lot of the same hands went up? We frequently, almost every one of us, will be on both sides of this at some point in our life.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:18] In fact, let me give you an illustration, an example of when Karina and I, well, the first was before we were married, but how we ended up on both sides of this. So a little bit before Katrina and I got married, my expenses were, were very, very low, so I was living in a three-bedroom apartment with five other guys, and the rent was almost nothing. I was living large, six guys in a three-bedroom apartment, we called ourselves the six-pack. We weren't even drinking beer, but it still was a fun nickname. And so some of us had steadier jobs because we were right out of college, and others of us were figuring it out. I didn't have this lucrative job, but I had a steady job, and very, very low expenses, so I had a lot of extra income.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:57] And my friend Adam, he was doing piano lessons, which he turned later on into a great career, but at the time he had a lack. And Adam ended up having car problems that he couldn't afford to fix, and so he came to me, and he said, is there any way that I could borrow money from you so that I could fix my car? And I said, absolutely, no problem. And then when I thought and prayed about it, the Lord really convicted me just to say, you know what, I've got plenty, I'm doing fine, I don't need Adam to pay me back for this, I can just give this to him. So I went back to Adam, and I said, here's the deal, if you'd be willing to accept it, I would love to just give this to you, and don't worry about paying me back. And I mean, he was surprised, and he was overjoyed, and he said, wow, like, thank you, I accept. Part of the reason why I love telling this story is because I want to say, I don't remember that many times in my life when I had more joy than when he said yes. When I got to say God has provided more than I need, and I get to help my friend, it was really, really awesome.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:57] All right, a few years later probably 2 to 3 years later, Karina and I are married, and we're both working odd jobs, neither of them are kind of career jobs. I'm going to seminary and things are tight, we're tightening our belts, and we're looking to be faithful, but there's a lot of extra things that just we aren't able to do during that time, and it was a challenge. We weren't poor, poor like some people are, but it was tight. And one of the things that we decided that we couldn't afford to do was Christmas was coming up, and we decided we just can't afford a Christmas tree, it's not in the budget this year. Which is not a massive tragedy, but it kind of felt like a symbol of the leanness of that time in our lives. We're like, we can't even have a Christmas tree in our home. So I don't think that we were wildly complaining about it, but we were bummed, and friends knew that it was a leaner time for us. Leading up to Christmas, we got a card in our mailbox and when we opened the card, there was a check inside and in the memo line it said Christmas tree and it had enough money for us to buy one. Guess who the check was from? It was from Adam; the tides had turned. There had been a moment where I had the extra and he had the lack, and then there was a moment where he had the extra and we had the lack.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:26] That is the picture that Paul is painting, that we do this, we have the humility to receive when we recognize I'm at the other end of this, and we have the joy of giving. And we have the joy of giving, not because we're saying, all right, the goal is that I have nothing and they have everything, but the goal is that our extra helps those who have a lack. And that's why when we're talking about this whole subject, we get into this weird place where it starts to feel a bit more like justice than like mercy. Where we actually have to look at the abundance that we have, and not simply ask the question, is God calling me to generously give of my own, but to actually ask the question, is this money that I have not for me, but for this other person that has a lack? Would I be wrong to hold on to this extra because God gave it to me so that it could be given to those who are in need? `

Dan Franklin: [00:37:23] Here's the question that I want to end with as we think about where we take this. The question is, what's holding you back? I think very few of us entered in here today thinking, like, generosity, I don't want anything to do with it. You're probably like, yes, I want to give, I want to be generous, I want to do all that. What's holding you back? I already mentioned, for some of you, genuinely, what's holding you back is a lack of a plan. You're like, I want to do it, I feel like my heart's in the right place, and the spiritual thing that God is going to call you to do in response to this is to sit down afterward and make a plan, to say a specific amount or a percentage and just say, all right, here's the plan. I don't know what God's going to do, and he could call me to give more, he could call me to give differently. But here's what I believe in my heart, prayerfully, God has called me to do, I'm going to make a plan so that I actually follow through with what God has called me to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:14] For some of you, what's holding you back may be complacency. Frankly, for some of you, you might be like, hey, I locked in 10% a long time ago, and I've been given 10% ever since. In the same way, that 10% is not sort of the apex that we all need to reach, 10% is not the point that we reach, and we say the rest is mine, 10% is God's. For some of you, God's provided such an abundance, that for you to stop at 10% is not what God's calling you to do. And God's calling you to get out of your complacency and go back and look at it and say, I think God's calling us to more generosity in this.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:52] For some of you, what's holding you back is fear. Just simply like, I don't know if we're going to have enough. If I start giving what's going to happen? What if a tragedy happens? What if I lose my job? If I start giving, am I going to be taken care of? And you're going to have to ask yourself if you trust in God to provide while you're being obedient to him.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:14] But, you know, for a lot of us, the rest of us, I just want to say another thing that might be holding us back is our attitude towards those who need to receive. Frankly, we might be saying they didn't work hard enough, they didn't save, and they frittered it away. If they weren't wise, why should I give my hard-earned money to them? I want to remind you that this is not a new thought, there were definitely ancient Israelites that would have thought this, there might have even been some Corinthians that were like, maybe the Jerusalem saints weren't good with their money, and that's why they're in this mess. If your attitude towards others is they don't deserve what I have to give them, please remember the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He who was rich, became poor, so that we, through his poverty, might be made rich.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:09] Let me pray for us right now. Father, thank you that you are a God who sees us and who loves us. Thank you, that you have made us rich in Jesus. And Father, we pray that you would flow justice and mercy through us in a way that we would be willing to give generously, that we would be willing to give over and above what others would even think is required of us. And that when they ask why we're able to give so generously, we could happily tell them it's because we're rich, it's because we're taking care of forever. Father, guide us past whatever is holding us back, and by your Spirit, shine your justice and mercy through us to the community and free us and liberate us from the idols of money and possessions that so often have a hold on our hearts. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:07] And I'm going to ask you to stand, as I'm going to read a benediction over us. And then I also just want to say we've already got some folks on the right and the left-hand side of the stage if you need prayer or a conversation, that's why they're there. But let me read a verse from the next chapter, Second Corinthians 9, verse 8 as our benediction today, "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. Amen? Amen. God bless you for the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
Read More

Next in this Series

View all in this series
Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848