2021-05-09 – 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 – The Proof of Your Love
2021-05-09 – 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 – The Proof of Your Love
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Happy Mother’s Day to all. To start off this morning, I thought it might be good to reflect a little on Mother’s Day history give you some statistics to consider.
The first observance of Mother’s Day in America was in Philadelphia, PA in 1907. Mother’s Day was recognized officially by Congress and the President in 1914, where President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother’s Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war. Mother’s Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant. To celebrate Mother’s Day, Americans will spend a billion dollars on greeting cards, $3 billion on flowers, and another $4 billion dollars dining out. WE REALLY LOVE OUR MOTHERS, that is so true…
Mother’s Day Joke: One day a little girl noticed her mother had a couple gray strands of hair on her head. So she asked why they were gray? Mom said that every time her children do something wrong, one of her hairs turns gray. The child thought for a moment then said, “Momma, how’s come all of grandma’s hairs are gray?”, lol. (any gray hairs here today?) You can take comfort in that in Proverbs 16:31 it says “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.” So there you go, lol
We have been going through the Bible book of 2nd Corinthians, where the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinth church that he started back in the year AD 50 towards the end of his second missionary journey. Like mothers who love their children, Paul loved the believers of that Corinth church. He considered them his spiritual children and he wanted to make sure they were on the right track and that they were spiritually healthy. Something that all parents should be doing.
Please turn now to 2 Corinthians 8:16, page 1027 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Last week we read through the start of this eighth chapter where Paul gave some instructions about the Privilege of Sharing what God has blessed them with.
Today we are going to see in scripture that Paul is employing some security mechanisms to give the Corinth Christian believers some confidence that what they have entrusted Paul with regarding their charitable offerings, will be managed and protected well. Starting at verse 16, the apostle Paul wrote:
16 Thanks be to God, who put the same concern for you into the heart of Titus.
17 For he welcomed our appeal and, being very diligent, went out to you by his own choice. 18 We have sent with him the brother who is praised among all the churches for his gospel ministry. [SLIDE] 19 And not only that, but he was also appointed by the churches to accompany us with this gracious gift that we are administering for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.
Again, Titus was Paul’s young apprentice, and he, along with two other unnamed Christian servants were not only helping to keep the communication channels going, but they were also entrusted to caretake the tithes and offerings that the churches were sharing in support. Paul was a truly a brilliant church administrator and shepherd. Even in our church here, I will assure you that we take much care and concern at who we entrust and how we protect the provisions that God has made available through you. Paul now continues at verse 20, he wrote:
20 We are taking this precaution so that no one will criticize us about this large sum that we are administering. 21 Indeed, we are giving careful thought to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before people. 22 We have also sent with them our brother. We have often tested him in many circumstances and found him to be diligent—and now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. [SLIDE] 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and coworker for you; as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore, show them proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you.
In these verses today we can see accountability, organizational structure, security, and the concern for others. Paul is also giving his endorsement and effectively commissioning these men for the service of caretaking the charitable funds they are collecting for the poor saints back in Jerusalem. Paul is speaking about their good character and thus their qualifications for this duty.
Again, the apostle Paul is a very wise caretaker and a shrewd but faithful servant and under-shepherd of the flock that God has appointed him to.
One might think that nobody would ever even think about stealing or deliberately mismanaging the churches funds, or take advantage of the trust that was given. But sadly, people are tempted by satan today just as were back in Paul’s day to sin and do evil, and sometimes it really just breaks my heart to see. Sadly, there is much twisted evil in our world today. I don’t know about you, but I get calls almost every day from somebody trying to extend my warrantee on something, or claiming that my credit or social security card has been compromised. I can’t help but to wonder why can’t the people who do these things, put their efforts into something productive and legitimate instead? Unfortunately, until Christ returns and restores paradise for us, we will have to put up with these doers of evil. Therefore, we must continue to endeavor to be wise and careful.
So like Paul suggests in these verses today, we also in this church have implemented several security mechanisms in our operations here as well. Many of you know that we count the tithes and offerings with a witness each Sunday. We record the amounts on paper, and we deposit the funds into the bank deposit box immediately after the morning service. We then present the accounts at each of the business meetings to be transparent and accountable. Like Paul, we want to give you the confidence that we are managing your church business well.
We also do what we do, for the purposes of curtailing any accusations, and to ensure we are not fueling temptation for anyone to consider. That is something we all should practice both here and in our personal lives. That means we lock our doors, we don’t leave money or valuables or medications laying around. We should not flaunt what we have and we should safeguard the blessings and provisions God has blessed us with. I like what Jesus says in Matt 10:16, “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves”.
When I was in Paris a few years ago with my daughter, we witnessed a mugging right in front of us. A truly scary ordeal indeed. Afterwards, I asked a missionary friend who told me that the muggers’ families were starving, as they were refugees and they had no job and no money. So when tourists come and they flash their cash and their top-of the line cellphones, it becomes too much of a temptation for the muggers to bear. He said they really don’t want to hurt anyone, but they want something they could sell to get food. Albeit a sad situation, we should all endeavor not to create a temptation for others to take advantage of. That goes for our lives outside and inside of the church. That is also why our Bibles say that we should give regularly and collect regularly, so that it would not become too much of a burden, too much of a temptation that sometimes leads to sin.
I just want you to know in this church we endeavor to create a trusting atmosphere while at the same time we employ simple security and accountability procedures for the purpose of caretaking what you all have graciously given, and what God continues to entrust us with.
Paul ends this chapter by charging the Corinth believers to show the proof of their love. And that is the title of this sermon message. Paul declares first that they can be trusted, and that they should feel confident enough to exercise or show the proof of their love for God, for each other, for the mission, and for others, by their giving. You may have heard the old axiom that suggests, you can tell a lot about the priorities of a person’s life by what is written in their calendar and what is written in their check-book. The calendar shows what folks are spending their time on, and the check-book shows what they are spending their money on. Time and Money are great measures of what is important to them, and what a person truly loves. So I’ll ask, how are you doing in that regard?
Again, Paul was collecting for the poor and starving Christians back in Jerusalem. They would probably parish if it were not for the generous, even sacrificial offerings from the new Christians in Macedonia, Corinth, and others. Paul also conveyed that this “giving exercise” was really a privilege for the Christians to partake in. When we truly realize that all the blessings we have received from God are undeserved, that should then motivate us to love on others likewise in return. Sacrificial giving is a great measure or Proof of Your Love. And nobody can out give God, amen?
Now.. being that it is Mother’s Day, I thought it would be great to reflect a little about the sacrificial love or the proof of love that mothers so regularly exhibit better than most anyone else. I think you will agree that a mother’s love for her child is one of the strongest kinds of love that we can witness. It is manifested in many different ways. Besides self-sacrifice, she protects her child from danger, she nurses them when they are sick, and she provides for their welfare, comfort and development. Mothers are rightfully cherished and much loved indeed. It is no wonder that Mother’s Day is held so dear by most all of us. They are not perfect people, but our Mothers are most always, very much appreciated. It is a blessing to be a mother, and we are all truly blessed to have a mother, indeed.
Mothers, what qualities or characteristics do you want you see in your child’s life? Whatever they are, I would easily argue that the best opportunity for instilling those values in your children is through demonstration. The values you hope to see in your children, should first be demonstrated in your own life. If you want your child to grow up to be honest and responsible, then you must be honest and responsible. If you want your child to grow to be faithful and obedient to God, then you must be faithful and obedient to God. The example of your life is the most important tool for shaping and molding the character of your child. Doing that takes much time and patience, but it is well worth the effort.
I heard it said, that “the way we live our lives should be the living proof that Jesus rose from the grave”. That goes for all of us, but I would argue it is most important for mothers as they typically are our children’s first role model. Pastor Jeremy read this morning from Proverbs 31, and in those verses, you can easily understand just some of the love that is proven out by many a Christian mother. And I love the closing verse 30 of our scripture text today, which is also our memory verse in the bulletin, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord will be praised”.
Finally Mothers, you should know that the greatest impact you can ever have on the life of your child is through your prayers? If you really love your children, then you should be praying for them earnestly and regularly. Pray that God will work in their hearts and cause them to realize their own need for Christ to be their Savior and Lord early in their life. Pray that God will guide them, protect them, prosper them, and make them useful citizens in God’s kingdom. Ask God for wisdom to raise them up to become God-fearing adults who love the Lord and do His bidding.
I can’t tell you how many thousand times I have prayed for my children over the years, but I can bet that it would pale in comparison with what their mother has done herself. Be a mother of prayer, for that is The Proof of Your Love, indeed.
According to Galatians 5:22-23, we know that the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fruit or what comes out of you because of your faith is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, but how is that demonstrated? It is demonstrated through actions. Actions like Paul is suggesting here today. It is one thing to talk the talk, but God wants us to walk the walk. God wants us to show our love for Him in our actions. Actions that reflect His love through your good character.
So Moms, referring back to the joke I told at the beginning of this message; whether you have gray hair, white hair, or no hair at all. We know that you put up with so much in raising your children. And for that we are eternally thankful. May God continue to bless you and protect you, as you continue to display the proof of your love in action.
Finally, One of the last things Jesus did on the cross before He died was an amazing example of love for us to follow. He made sure that John would look after His mother Mary after He died. In John 19:26 it is recorded that “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home”. As Jesus showed love and respect for His mother, we should all consider doing likewise.
In honor of our mothers, I thought it would be a good exercise to consider just saying our mother’s name out loud right now. My mothers name is Rosa Lee. What is your mother’s name?
Would you please stand now and let us close with prayer.
No Youth Program tonight so families can be together.
God be with you all.