Teaching Generosity

By Dr. Frank Lewis

One of the most important areas of discipling others may be teaching the principles of generosity. God loves a cheerful giver: That was how Paul stated his plea to the Corinthians. Generosity would move the hearts of the Corinthians in ways they could not imagine. At the same time, generosity would fuel missions so the gospel could spread.

Revitalizers face a unique challenge when they step into the leadership of a church that may be struggling to pay the monthly bills and keep the doors open. With a priority to turn evangelistic efforts around, preaching on giving is one of the last things most of us would recommend. Healthy churches are generous churches, and helping a church discover the joy of cheerful generosity may be one of the next steps you need to take in becoming a healthy evangelistic church.

Here is a preaching idea that teaches generosity. It is designed to be used as a five-part sermon series. Rather than jumping around, pulling from several Scripture texts, my preference is exploring and sharing the riches of one passage through a five-week series. The benefits to this method allow the pastor to do a thorough and faithful job with the exposition of the text, to teach verse by verse, to go deep into the context and to make the application that will help your church see the text in a more powerful and transforming way.

The series title is “Generosity Grows” and the Scripture text is 2 Corinthians 9:6-13. Paul makes a plea for his friends to practice generosity and promises them that this is one of the ways they will grow in their confidence and faith as Christ-followers.

Message One

“Generosity Grows Faith”

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor. 9:6)

Introduction: In this message, share the goal clearly and succinctly. If you need to raise a special offering to replace the roof, state it clearly. If you are preparing the church to support a new budget, state that clearly. In three minutes or less, describe the goal. Let everyone know why it is important.

Observations from the text:

What does Paul teach the Corinthians about generosity?

  1. The size of a harvest corresponds directly to the generosity of seeds sown. The more generously we sow, the greater the harvest.
  2. Farmers sow generously because the harvest provides the seed for the next season.
  3. The farmer sows with confidence, trusting that God will bless faithfulness with a fruitful harvest.

The main application point could be “Faith in God grows as we learn to demonstrate confidence in the things God has spoken to us in His word.” Then close this sermon by reminding your listeners about the goal of the offering and ask, “Would you prayerfully participate in a faith-growing exercise by asking God, ‘What do you want to do through me?’”

Message Two

“Generosity Grows Community”

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

The main idea in this message is simple and encouraging: It’s the resolution to practice generosity, not the reserve in our accounts, that makes us generous givers.

Here are some observations from the text:

  1. When generosity is inspired by God.
  2. When generosity becomes the culture of the community.
  3. When generosity stretches us to trust God.
  4. When generosity is joyful (the text says hilarious).

This text can be illustrated by reminding the listeners that God loves a cheerful giver because God himself is a cheerful giver. Then walk through these gospel-rich passages: John 3:16, Mark 10:45 and Galatians 1:3-4.

Message Three

“Generosity Grows Ministry”

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8)

Observations about God and generosity from this passage:

  1. God’s grace is sufficient for everything we need.
  2. We can totally depend on God’s sufficiency.
  3. God provides the substance and the spirit for generosity.
  4. If we are willing to give, God will always make it possible for us to give.
  5. God’s sufficient grace is not intended for our ease; it is intended to be used in His mission.

Application: Be sure to remind the listener of the specific goal related to generosity. If possible, suggest one of two concrete examples of things your church will be able to do as the ministry of the church is supported and this goal is reached.

Message Four

“Generosity Grows Trust”

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Cor. 9:10)

Observations about generosity and trust from this passage:

  1. Generosity is the result of God’s work of grace in our lives.
  2. As we grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, we become more like Him.
  3. Generosity doesn’t depend on prosperity.
  4. Practicing generosity is a privilege.
  5. God will not ignore your generosity.
  6. Generosity reflects our personal commitment to God and to His church.
  7. God uses the generosity of his people as instruments of his grace for the salvation of others.

Application: Your confidence in God will never grow beyond your willingness to demonstrate your trust in God with the financial concerns of life.

Message Five

“Generosity Grows Hope”

“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others.” (2 Cor. 9:11-13)

Introduction: In this final message, state the goal(s) clearly and succinctly one final time.

Remind everyone that, while there are reasons not to practice generosity, the goal identified by church leadership is a worthy goal. Then paint a picture of a hopeful future, describing what could happen because of the generosity of those willing to sacrifice and give.

Here are some observations from this text:

  1. The practice of generosity trains us to be generous and grateful.
  2. When generosity is Christlike (sacrificial and willing), it provides hope.
  3. When God moves our willingness to be generous toward genuine need, God gets the glory and the gospel is amplified.

Application: Depending on your goals, ask for a “Generosity Commitment” from everyone present. This could be done with commitment cards, online sign-ups, etc. Whatever method you use, be sure to celebrate the results in about two weeks by updating your church on a Sunday morning.

Pastor, thanks for your generosity in answering God’s call and leading your church.

Published April 5, 2022

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Dr. Frank Lewis

Frank R. Lewis recently stepped down as senior pastor of Nashville’s First Baptist Church, where he served for 24 years. Prior to that, he was the preaching and worship consultant for the BSSB (Lifeway). Frank planted Green Valley Baptist Church in Henderson, Nevada, as a Home Mission Board (NAMB) appointed church planter, right after finishing his M.Div. He earned a D.Min. from GGBTS (Gateway Seminary) and currently is pursuing post-doctoral studies in church revitalization and pastoral counseling at New Orleans Seminary. Frank enjoys writing, preaching and encouraging pastors.