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Guard Your Reputation (2 Corinthians 8:18-24)

Sermon on Sunday 6 Oct 2019 by Pastor Justin

In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul advised and encouraged the Corinthians by telling them about the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. They were poor but had the eagerness to bless those in Jerusalem. They were overflowing with great joy because of their participation. Paul wrote to the Corinthians because false teachers were saying that money collected was misused in the ministry. Paul wanted to defend his integrity and to guard his reputation in the way he handled money. 


In chapter 9, Paul gave a wonderful teaching to the Corinthians on why and how believers should give. We should give, not grudgingly, but with a willing heart. Our giving back is an attitude of returning to God. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you (Matthew 6:33). The New Testament tells us about giving with a cheerful heart. 


The way you handle material wealth will be a reflection of your spiritual health. Guard your reputation with your life. Honour God with reputation. Give people no opportunity to slander Christians. How willing you are to give to the needy is a direct reflection of your sincere love. You are not living for yourself. You live because Christ lives in you. You are an ambassador, a representative, of Jesus Christ. Use every opportunity to promote and glorify God.


2 Corinthians 8:18-24 - We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News. He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem - a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help. We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honourable. We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you. If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honour to Christ. So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.

 

The bible places great importance on reputation. Reputation rules - it is easy to be labelled based on your reputation, e.g. not returning money, being late.   Proverbs 22:1 - Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. Ecclesiastes 7:1 - A good name is better than precious ointment. And the day of death than the day of one's birth.


1 Peter 2:12 - Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when He judges the world. 


1 Timothy 4:12 - Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

The Lord wants us to imitate Him, because we are His children. He is lowly, humble, compassionate and full of love. These are wonderful attributes. We want to be like Christ. We are His representatives. Everybody is watching us. We have to be serious about guarding our reputation. Ephesians 5:1 - Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. 


What does your life say about you?

"A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was." - George Washington.

We need to guard our reputation for we are ambassadors of Christ.


2 Corinthians 5:20 - We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Guard especially the handling of money. The love of money is the root to all evil. Many have drifted from their faith because of their greediness. Then what is left is sorrow. With a desire to be rich, you will fall into temptation which will result in judgment.


1 Timothy 6:10 - For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Point to note:


1. A reputation of being extremely generous. A reputation of giving.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to participate in the ministry of giving. It is more blessed to give than to receive. 


2 Corinthians 8:2 - Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:7 - But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Acts 20:35 - In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."


2. Walk the talk and talk the walk

Many people's walk cannot match their talk. You must have faith in believing Christ, in giving. Faith without work is worthless. Work without having faith in God preserving you, is faithless. People who have a reputation of only talking will not be trusted.

2 Corinthians 8:11 - Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

New testament giving is more than giving a set value. It is sacrificial giving, like the widow who gave everything our of poverty - her two copper coins.


3. A reputation of being transparent and honest in handling money.


2 Corinthians 8:20 - We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.

Christ is our model. This mindset must be in us. As Christians, our number one priority is to represent Christ.


Jesus Christ never took Himself as God but took on the form of a servant. He was so humble to the point of death. Philippians 2:7 - But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

We want to follow His teachings. Matt 28:20 - and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.


Let us have a reputation of love as Christians and as a church!

Before Jesus was betrayed, He told the disciples to love one another. John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. 


Do we have a reputation of loving one another? Do we have a reputation of the church of love? As a mission-based church, we are setting our reputation now, as a church, as an individual. Let it be said that we are a congregation of love, a people of love. 

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