Offering for Jesus

(2 Corinthians 9, Mark 12)
English
Year: 
2023
Quarter: 
1
Lesson Number: 
4

Lesson 4

Offerings for Jesus

(2 Corinthians 9, Mark 12)

 

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

 

Introduction: Many years ago I was volunteering my time to do some physical labor for the church. I was young and one of the older members discussed family finances with me. When he learned that my wife and I had our money in a joint bank account he exclaimed, “What if she runs off with your money?” Frankly, that had not previously crossed my mind. I responded that I would be more concerned about losing her than losing money. He was astonished by my response. For him, money took precedence over his wife. That conversation is like our study this week. If my job in writing this lesson is to convince you to make voluntary offerings, then the underlying problem is not money, but your attitude toward God. This week as we study the Bible let’s focus more on our attitude toward Jesus!

 

  1. What is Love?

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:1. When Paul writes to the Corinthians and says it is “superfluous” for him to write to them about money, what is he saying? (He is saying that it is unnecessary for him to write.)

 

      1. Does he mean that? If he does, why is he writing to them about money?

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:2. What has Paul said to the Christians in Macedonia about the Christians in Corinth? (He has been boasting about their zeal (their excitement) in giving money.)

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:3-4. Is there a problem? Why is Paul concerned about being humiliated when he comes, especially if he brings some Macedonians with him? (Clearly, Paul believes he may have a problem. He is concerned that the Corinthians might not have contributed the money that he bragged was being contributed.)

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:5. What has Paul decided to do to avoid being embarrassed? (He is sending some of his co-workers in advance to be sure that the Corinthians give the gift they promised to give.)

 

      1. Notice the last phrase, “so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.” Can you explain how sending an advance team to be sure the money is ready prevents this from being “an exaction?”

 

      1. Let’s say that you have promised to buy me a new car. I tell you that I’m sending a couple of guys over in advance to be sure you have that new car ready for me. What is your reaction? Would you view this as a “willing gift?”

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6. How does this point influence the Corinthians to give voluntarily?

 

      1. Is this the same point as “we know you are excited about giving?” (It is not the same point. Paul says that if you give little, you will be blessed little. If you give a lot, you will receive a lot.)

 

    1. 2 Corinthians Chapter 8 gives a lot of great context to Chapter 9. Let’s read 2 Corinthians 8:13-14. What argument in favor of generosity is Paul making here to the Corinthians? (This sounds like an insurance plan! When you have excess, you give it to them. When you have need, they will give you their excess.)

 

    1. If we are honest, and we should always be, do Paul’s arguments seem to be based on love?

 

      1. Last Sabbath, when I taught my Bible class we discussed Malachi 3, and some of the class was pushing back on my argument that God was offering prosperity in exchange for tithe-paying. One class member commented that the prosperity argument was for new converts. For mature Christians the motive is higher, the motive is love. Do you agree? (I agree that this is a valid point. But, it is a complicated point.)

 

    1. Let’s revisit my Introduction with the old church member who was more concerned about his money than his wife. Why do you think I was more concerned about my wife than my money, and why was he more concerned about his money than his wife? (My wife had proven to be more important than money.)

 

      1. Do you think that when we got married, she said to herself, “I had better prove my value?” Do you think I said, “Let’s see if my new wife is better than money?” (Of course not. We loved each other, and that love motivated us to act in ways that showed we were valuable for reasons other than love.)

 

    1. When Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9 that he has been bragging about the Corinthians, and he does not want them to embarrass him. When he writes in 2 Corinthians 8 that giving is like an insurance policy, does this have something to do with love? (I will argue, “yes.” One element of my love for my wife is that she does not embarrass me in front of others. Loving her has turned out to be a valuable benefit outside of mere affection.)

 

      1. Can we conclude that when Paul writes of things that are part of the picture of love, but not in themselves love, that he is still talking about love?

 

      1. Let’s put this idea to the test. Why do you love Jesus who you have never met? Does it have anything to do with what He has done for you and those you love? (We need to understand that love is not some abstract quality, human love arises from experience.)

 

  1. The Measure of Love

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. Why would someone be cheerful about giving money away? (Do you like to give gifts to others? If so, you understand how you can feel joy in helping others.)

 

      1. What do you think the phrase “give as he has decided in his heart” means? (It means that we should be intentional about our giving. There is a current phrase, “Random acts of kindness” that reflects sloppy thinking. Why would you be random when you have the opportunity to maximize the good you can do with your money?)

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:8. Paul now gives us a reason to carefully consider how much we give as an offering. What is it? (God will show grace to you in that you have “all sufficiency in all things at all times.”)

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:10 what kind of crop does the generous person experience here? (Paul tells us that another reason for being generous is that it makes us a better person. We harvest “righteousness.” We do good.)

 

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:11-14. What other good thing arises from your generosity? (Giving prospers us to allow us to be even more generous. Your ministry causes people give thanks to God. You advance the Kingdom of God. You bring glory to God.)

 

  1. God’s Measure

 

    1. Read Mark 12:41. Is it a spectator sport to watch how much people are giving to God? (The fact that Jesus and His disciples could observe this tells us that the authorities wanted giving to be public.)

 

      1. How do you think the rich felt about being seen to give large amounts to charity?

 

    1. Read Mark 12:42. How do you think this lady felt? Would she be embarrassed to give so little? Do people like to broadcast that they are poor?

 

    1. Read Mark 12:43. How can Jesus make this statement? Clearly she contributed much less than the rest.

 

    1. Read Mark 12:44. What is Jesus’ explanation for His comment on the amount? (He says that she gave everything. She gave “all she had to live on.”)

 

      1. Is this widow going to starve? Is that the goal of giving? (Unless everything we have been studying about giving resulting in blessings is false, she is not going to starve. She will be blessed.)

 

      1. Considering the widow’s attitude about giving. How is it that she is in this situation to begin with? It doesn’t fit with what we have studied. With such an attitude about giving she should be rich!(Jesus seems to have a narrow point - that it is not the amount that you give that counts, rather it is whether the gift means something to you.)

 

      1. What point is Jesus making about the rich giving “out of abundance” and the widow giving “all she had to live on?” (The point is that the rich could (and did) still trust their money. The widow trusted God.)

 

    1. Friend, God loves you. Your love to Him results in a desire to be generous to others. But that initial desire is just the beginning of things. As you give, you are blessed in all sorts of ways that encourage you to give even more. Why not decide today to trust God and be generous with God’s work?

 

  1. Next week: Dealing With Debt.