The God of Encouragement

In the next few chapters of Paul’s second letter to the Church at Corinth, he talks about three different ways believers encourage believers.

When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. – 2 Corinthians 7:5-7a

I love how God uses our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us when we are going through difficult times! Our God is the God of encouragement. He knows when we are discouraged and he sends people into our lives to bring us joy, good news and encouragement. Sometimes the encouragement is more in the form of someone encouraging us to do something. In his letter, Titus has gone to the Church to encourage them to be as generous with others as they were when they first believed.

For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped for, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways – in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us – I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.

I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of other churches.

You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:3-9

Last fall, we opened a new pregnancy center in Pekin, Illinois. So many people have volunteered their time and given items to help get the center open and reaching out to women in Tazewell County. It has been a year of building and we are about to have our second annual fundraising banquet. I know I can give of my time and pray for the ministry, but I know God is calling me to make some financial sacrifices in order to make a difference in the lives of women considering abortion here in the community I live in. This Scripture encourages me and challenges me this morning.

Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have (8:11).

The third form of encouragement Paul gives is to remind the Church of God’s provision for our needs and for enough to share with others. God is the One who supplies what we need and He will supply what He is asking us to give. The result of God’s provision and my response is that God will be glorified! God’s gifts are indescribable!

Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But he one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving – the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! – 2 Corinthians 9:6-14

God is the One who supplies what we need and He will supply what He is asking us to give. The result of God’s provision and my response is that God will be glorified! God’s gifts are indescribable! Thank God for His gifts – too wonderful for words!