The Gift of Exuberant Joy
2 Corinthians 8
How do you measure a church? A church is a spiritual and material entity whose mission is to love God, to love each other, to learn and obey the word of God, to commit our lives, our talents, our resources to the task of telling as many as we can about the love of God in Christ Jesus. It's hard to measure effectiveness in doing that. It's like looking at the railroad track to see which way the train went.
In 2 Corinthians 8:7, there is a measuring stick of spirituality. The apostle is saying to the church at Corinth, "But just as you excel in everything -", and he lays out the ways they need to excel. He says faith, you need to excel in faith. Faith is our most urgent need. Do you trust God? Do you believe his promises? The Bible says without faith, it is impossible to please God. In speech, our speech is a dead give away; it reveals our hearts. Jesus said one day we will be judged according to everything that we have said. In knowledge, learning the word of God; we need to know what God's word says. In complete earnestness; that has to do with doing and obeying the will of God. Now we know that joy is a mark of a person who is saved, but we are not called to be giggly Christians. This is serious business with high stakes. This week as I prepared for this hour, (I give at least 20 hours of my life each week for this one time with you) I read a statement by Charles Hadden Spurgeon. He said: "Life, death, hell and worlds unknown may hang on the preaching and hearing of one sermon." There is a complete earnestness about the thing we are all doing. In love for us. "We will love each other. it Jesus said: "A new commandment I give to you that you love one another." Then he said: "Excel also in the grace of giving." We will commit our talents, our resources to the task of telling as many as we can.
There is a well known church in Illinois that uses the 5 G's to measure its own effectiveness. The first is Grace. Do our people understand when they are asked about how to know Jesus Christ and how to come to his grace? The second is Growth, spiritual growth. Do people exhibit the spiritual growth, i.e. love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, meekness, kindness, temperance, self-control? The third is Groups. Do they want to be in small groups, to be in the fellowship of other Christians in small groups? Have you found your Sunday School class yet? The fourth G is Gifts. That means have you learned what you can do, what your talent is. What you can do for God, and you are doing it. And the last matter is Giving. In a materialistic world where the leading deity is the image engraved on a dollar bill, you cannot escape the fact that giving of money is a spiritual indicator. Our Lord Christ challenged people at this point. Now hear the whole text. This is the word of God: "And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most ...
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