Out of an Overflowing Heart
October 18th, 1981 @ 8:15 AM
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
OUT OF AN OVERFLOWING HEART
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 8
10-18-81 8:15 a.m.
We welcome you who are sharing this hour on radio. This is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Out of an Overflowing Heart.
In the passage that you read in 2 Corinthians, chapter 8, you start off with an old English expression: “Brethren, we do you to wit” [2 Corinthians 8:1]. Now when that was written in 1600, it made good sense to them; doesn’t make much sense to us today, “We do you to wit.” All of that is the translation of one word, gnorizomen, “we do you to wit.” Simple Greek word, “We declare to you, we make known to you, what they did in Macedonia; the poorer they were, the more they gave. Their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” [2 Corinthians 8:1-2]. Then in verse 9 he gives the reason for their moving response to our blessed Lord––this is absolutely one of the sweetest, dearest, most beautiful, meaningful verses in the Bible––“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich” [2 Corinthians 8:9].
Now we are going to do something with you: I am going to read an incident in the life of our Lord, and as I read it I want you to think of the impression that it makes upon you. Then we are going to ask about it, how you felt. In the seventeenth chapter of Luke, verses 11-19, Luke 17, verses 11-19:
And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said unto them—and this is according to the law—Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed, they were healed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And he fell down at the feet of Jesus, giving Him thanks…
Now this man was a stranger to the covenants of Israel; he was an outside alien, he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten healed? were not ten lepers cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And Jesus said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Now look at you just for a moment. Tell me, what impressed you as I read that story? Was it the omnipotence of Jesus, able to heal with a word ten men afflicted with an incurable and indescribably horrible disease? Was it that that impressed you? The omnipotence of Jesus healing with a word those ten despicably diseased men, was it that? Was it this: as I read that story, were you impressed with the omniscience of our Lord? He knew before it came to pass that as they, in obedience to the Levitical law made their way to the priest, they would be healed. Did that impress you? Did that even occur to you, the great omniscience, the all-knowingness of our Lord? Did that impress you? Again, as I read that story, did it impress you, the far-famed reputation of our Lord Jesus? Standing afar off, couldn’t come nigh, they were interdicted by the law even to approach. He was so known as a healing prophet of Galilee that raising up their voices and crying––He was the great world-renowned healer and teacher and prophet. Did that impress you? No, nor did a half-a-dozen other things you could say about the Lord Jesus impress you. What impressed you as I read that story is this: that out of ten men that were healed, there was only one of them who returned to give thanksgiving to the Lord [Luke 17:14-16]. Now isn’t that right? That’s the only thing that stays in your mind. It’s the only thing that impressed Jesus about it. His grief expressed that out of ten men who were healed, just one returned to give glory to God and to kneel at His feet in giving thanks [Luke 17:17-18].
Well, what was the matter with the nine? Nine of them, as well as the tenth one, marvelously delivered from an unspeakable disease, they were healed and cleansed [Luke 17:12-14]. Well, they were busy about themselves; they picked up where they had left off when they fell into that awesome, cumbersome handicap, leprosy, where the extremities of your hands and feet and your whole body falls off. Your nose falls off, your fingers fall off, your toes fall off, finally your hands fall off and your feet fall off. I’ve seen uncounted numbers of it, and afflicted with ulcers, running ulcers. Oh, you can’t imagine such an affliction. Well, these men were too busy to return thanks to God. They picked up where they had left off. One of them was making money; well, he didn’t think about God, he started making money. One of them had been interrupted in his pleasure, so he picked up his good times. And another one had other assignments; and they were engrossed, they were busy. They had their own lives to live, and God was no part of it. And after all, the healing was sort of due them, they felt. And when you look at that against the background of their situation, it becomes immediately poignant––oh dear––you can’t read the story and not be as amazed as Jesus was [Luke 17:17-18].
They stood afar off [Luke 17:12], they were not allowed to come into society, and if they did approach, by law, they put their hands over their mouths like this, and called, “Unclean!” to the top of their voice, “Unclean!” [Leviticus 13:45], and the people separated from them wherever they went. Their food was brought to them by relatives, if they were able to live at all, and it was set somewhere, and then they could come and get it. And they lived in the tombs or in strange out-of-way places. Their whole lives were one nightmare and indescribably sad life. And now, they are whole and well again; but too busy, nine of them, about themselves to bring offering and thanksgiving to Jesus. But one of them did [Luke 17:12-15]. And the book says that he not only was healed in his physical frame, but when he fell at the feet of the Lord Jesus and gave thanks [Luke 17:16], Jesus said to him, “Arise, go your way: thy faith had made thee whole” [Luke 17:19]. He was healed not just in his feet or hands or face or body, but he was healed in his soul and in his heart and in his life. He was a new creation in Christ Jesus [2 Corinthians 5:17].
Now, sweet people, I can’t think of that, nor can I read that in your presence and not be reminded of the multiplied mercies that God has bestowed upon us, upon me. Like golden links in an endless chain, the days and the hours bring blessing to me. My life is so enriched in the goodness of our dear Lord. That’s why the psalmist would say, “Many, O Lord my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” [Psalm 40:5]. They are like counting the sands of the sea or the stars of the sky: when I try to reckon God’s wonderful goodnesses to me, they are beyond what I can number. Or look again, as the psalmist will say, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with His benefits,” just bears us down with His blessings, “Who loadeth us with His benefits, even the God of our salvation” [Psalm 68:19]. Or again, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” [Psalm 103:2], and then he names them [Psalm 103; 4-22]. Or again, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” [Psalm 116:12]. And then he names the things that he proposes to do because God has been so aboundingly good to him [Psalm 116:13-19]. We are like that: our benefits and our blessings are innumerable, God loads us down with them every day; they are beyond number.
Now the response of God’s people has always been the same from the beginning. In the story of Cain and Abel, you have a translation there of a word, but the translation of it hides its real meaning. Cain and Abel brought a minchah to the Lord. Abel was a shepherd, and he took of his flock; and he brought a minchah to the Lord. Cain was a tiller of the soil; he was a farmer, and he brought a minchah to the Lord. Now God said to Cain, “Your minchah is acceptable if your heart will be right; because your heart is not right; your minchah is not acceptable.” But what Cain brought to the Lord was right, acceptable; he brought of the fruit of the soil, as Abel brought of the firstlings of the flock. Now what is a minchah? It is translated in the King James Version of the Bible; it’s translated “an offering, a sacrifice.” A minchah is a gift. Abel, because of the response he had toward the goodness of God brought a gift to the Lord, a minchah. Cain did the same thing, and Cain, God said, would have been accepted, but his heart was not right [Genesis 4:2-7]. But it was a minchah; it was an offering that he brought to God. That has been the irrepressible response in the human heart from the beginning, to a man who loves God. He just does; he brings a minchah to the Lord. Just like that one leper that was healed: the first thing that he did, he turned around from going to the priest even by the law, he turned around and came to the feet of Jesus and bowed and offered Him the thanksgiving of his soul [Luke 17:15-16].
Now Abraham did that; four hundred thirty years before the law, four hundred thirty years before the law, Abraham in the presence of Melchizedek, the priest of El Elyon, the Most High God, Abraham gave to Melchizedek one-tenth of everything that he possessed [Genesis 14:17-20]. Why? Out of the devotion, and love, and response, and gratitude of his heart; that’s God’s Spirit working in a man. He just does. Three hundred and fifty years before the law, Jacob at Bethel said, “Lord, a waif and an orphan now, and a stranger, and a sojourner going to a people I have never seen, into a country I have never known, Lord, if You will just feed me, and if You will just clothe me, out of everything You give me, Lord, one-tenth I will give unto Thee” [Genesis 28:20-22]; out of the gratitude of his soul, happy to do it, wanting to do it.
Lord, what would I take for one of my eyes? Say this one here: if a man were to offer me, “I’ll give you a million dollars for that eye,” Lord, would I sell my eye for a million dollars? Much less both of my eyes. Well, where did my eyes come from? Did I buy them? No, I didn’t buy them. God gave them to me. I have two eyes. God’s infinite omnipotent hand created them and gave them to me; God did it. My ears, my hands, my feet, my physical frame, my mind, O Lord, how infinitely grateful I am, dear God! I have my mind, I have my hands, Lord, Lord, I thank Thee; I’m so grateful, Lord. And ten thousand blessings beside. And Lord, I’m not boasting that I can see while others can’t, or I can walk while others are enfeebled, or I have bread to eat while others starve; I’m just grateful, Lord, that maybe in the blessings You have given me I can be a blessing to them. Just thankful, Lord, just grateful.
Now, I realize that we are under commandment, we are under duty, and we’re under obligation to give to God a tenth of everything that we possess, and of everything that we make. Leviticus 27:30, the eighteenth chapter of Numbers, the twelfth chapter of Deuteronomy, Malachi 3:10, and a thousand other places in the law we are commanded to give a tenth to the Lord. I know that. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said, “These things,” tithing what we have, “ye ought to have done.” I know that. But did you know it did me good that I was out in the country ten years? And I lived among those people; I wasn’t married, and I just made my home among them. It was in the Depression. Most of the people with whom I lived were sharecroppers. You know what a sharecropper is? Tenant farmer who takes somebody else’s land, and he toils on it, he plants it, he raises a crop on it; and then a part of the crop, why, he gives to the owner of the land. He does that out of duty and out of obligation. He’s a sharecropper. So to the man that owns the land that he is tilling, a part of the crop he gives to him. He does that out of duty; he does that by obligation. Now, I realize the same thing obtains concerning us. A man is obligated to support his family, and we have obligations to pay our debts; we have duties to perform. And I’m not inveighing against that. I’m just saying this: that it is a thousand times better, it is ten thousand times better for a man to support his family because he loves them than it is that he does it out of duty and obligation. It is a million times better for a man to give something to someone he loves because he loves that someone, than it is that he do it out of obligation and out of duty. And the same eternal principle obtains with us before God. It is infinitely better that the response we make to God is never one of obligation or duty: “I am coercively forced to do this.” Never. But to say, “Dear God, in all of Your goodnesses, how could I ever express my abounding gratitude to Thee? And to bring You this minchah is one of the sweetest privileges of my life. I’ll not be so busy with business as to forget Thee. Nor will I be so selfish with selfishness as to pass Thee by. Thank Thee, Lord. This is a minchah of loving gratitude.” Remembering the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich” [2 Corinthians 8:9].
Now sweet people, I have one thing that I want to discuss for a minute. In this giving program for 1982 that is brought to you, by far the largest any church has ever faced in history, in this giving outline there is an appeal in that giving program that we devote over two million dollars to missions, to God’s cause outside of these four walls. And a million dollars of that, if God will help us in our response, a million dollars of that goes to the Cooperative Mission Program of our Southern Baptist denomination. That is a stupendous assignment. There’s no church that has even begun to approach anything like that. Well, you were here when I spoke of the moving of the Spirit of God that led your pastor to ask our men to place that in the budget, a million dollars. And whether we do it or not is in your hands. You can respond or not; it depends upon our response, what we do. I just wanted to add these one or two or three words about it.
Number one is this: we belong to the Baptist denomination; we are a part of it. This church has been the keystone church of the Southern Baptist denomination ever since there has been a Texas Baptist church; we have always been the key church in the denomination. Now listen, I don’t think we have a right to speak to the denomination unless we support it. I don’t have any right to speak to the Episcopalians; I don’t care what they do, because I am not an Episcopalian. I don’t support them. I don’t think I have any right to speak to the Lutherans, whatever the Lutherans do, because I’m not a Lutheran. I don’t support the Lutherans. If I speak to the denomination, I only have a right to do so if I number myself with them, if I belong to them, and if I support them. And if I support them, then I have a right to speak to them, “This is the way we feel.”
Again, ninety-nine percent of our Southern Baptist people are as fundamental as I am. I have been president of the convention. I have been preaching to them for over fifty years. The great mass of our Southern Baptist people are Bible-believing, Christ-honoring, mission-minded people. There are, in so great and vast a convention, there are some rats, and there are some termites in it. But you and I don’t want to burn down the barn to get rid of the rats. And my brother you know this: the association of our Baptist churches represents the blood and the tears and the sacrifice of all of our forefathers. And to bow out and to give it to these few liberals is unthinkable. It is indefensible. This is ours; they belong to us, these institutions and this convention. We belong to it; and if we support it, we have a right to speak to it.
And just once again, there’s not a better way to do God’s work in the earth that I know of than the support of this ministry of Christ. I don’t know a better way. You businessmen, I listen to these fellows do it all the time. They sporadically will give money for that poor cause or for that poor cause. Do you know what we do? We have in this one mission ministry here in Dallas, we have seventeen chapels; and we minister to those people every hour of every day of every month of every year. We don’t do it at a Thanksgiving time, or at a fund-raising time, or at a special time; we do it all the time. We’re ministering to those needy people, those dear families that somehow get bogged down in the morass of this world. And I think that’s the way to do it, like we’re doing it, with seventeen chapels scattered all over the sub-marginal areas of this city, ministering to those people who need help. O Lord, I think in the best wisdom that I have, this is the way to do. And I am praying that our people will marvelously respond.
Now I close. Not coercively, not out of duty or obligation, but every syllable of this, Lord, and every response that I am able to make arises out of my heart. This is something I want to do.
I was amused at one of our fine, affluent businessmen. He had brought me his covenant card, his pledge card, in an envelope. He brought it to me. Well, I thanked him for it, and I just started talking to him about the Lord and about the church. I had no other thought in my mind than one of appreciation for his bringing it to me, and just talking to him about the Lord, and talking to him about the church, and talking to him about Jesus, and talking to him about the work, just talking to him. I want you to know, while I was talking to him, he reached over and took that envelope in which his pledge card was placed; he took it out of my hand. He said, “Here, preacher, I want that back.” He said, “I’ve just decided to tear it up, and I’m going to double my pledge.” That just beat anything I ever saw. I never said a word to him about giving or doubling. But as I began talking to him about the Lord, that was his response. You know, just thinking about that, thinking about the Lord, thinking about Jesus, thinking about the things of Christ, thinking about our church and its ministry, “Here, preacher, give me that back. I’m going to tear it up; I’m going to double what I have written down.”
O Lord, that we might be like that, like this one who was healed [Luke 17:15-16]: not out of duty or out of obligation or out of coercion, “But Lord, Lord, out of abounding gratitude to what God has done for me, Lord, this is a minchah devoted to Thee.”
It’d be sweet and dear if our church can do this like that: on our knees, like this man, in gratitude to the blessed, blessed Jesus [Luke 17:15-16].
Now may we stand for the moment? Precious Savior, how infinitely good, aboundingly good, You have been to us. Lord, Lord, as though it were not enough that You bless us in the pilgrimage of this life, You have promised us a home in a city [John 14:1-3], whose streets are paved with gold, whose gates are solid pearl [Revelation 21:21], where the river of life and the tree of life adorn the boulevards [Revelation 22:1-2]. O Lord, how could we ever thank Thee for the goodnesses whereby You have blessed our lives? And our Lord, it is a joy unspeakable, indescribable, overflowing, to serve Thee, to walk with Thee, to ask Thy blessing upon us in our labors for Christ. Now bless this appeal, and we’ll love Thee once again for the souls You give us. In Thy wonderful name, amen.
In this moment, in the balcony round, on the lower floor, a family, a couple, you, “Today I give my heart in trust to the precious Savior.” Or, “Today we’re putting our lives in this wonderful church.” We’ll all stay here for the moment, waiting for you, then we’ll go to our Sunday school classes; but right now, just praying for you. Make the decision in your heart. And when our choir sings the appeal, take that first step. It’ll be the most blessed step you’ll ever make in your life. Do it now, while we wait and pray, and while we sing. Welcome. Welcome.
OUT OF AN OVERFLOWING HEART
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
A. What impressed you?
1. Jesus’ omnipotence? His omniscience?His reputation?
2. It was His grievous disappointment – only one out of ten returned to thank Jesus for healing his leprosy
B. The nine were too busy with business left off or pleasure postponed
C. We rejoice with the one – not only his body healed, but his soulII. Our gratitude to God
A. My life a golden chain of mercies(Psalm 40:5, 68:19, 103:1-2, 116:12)
B. Expressed from the beginning(Genesis 4:3-5, 14:17-20, 28:16-22)III. Under commandment, obligation and duty to tithe
A. Commanded under the law (Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:21, Deuteronomy 12:6, Malachi 3:10)
B. Jesus spoke of it (Matthew 23:23)
1. Tenant farmers, share croppers
2. Obligation to support family
C. Infinitely better to consider it a privilegeIV. One part of the budget
A. Over two million dollars to missions – one million of it to denominational cooperative program
B. We belong to the denomination
1. We have no right to speak unless we support it
C. 99% of Southern Baptists are like us – fundamental
D. The right to designate – the main thing is support for cause of Christ
1. Sporadic giving vs. our 17 chapelsV. Giving out of an overflowing heart
A. “Pastor give me back my pledge cardâ€¦”