St. Paul, who had plenty of critical things to say about the church at Corinth, is complimentary of them in the passage we'll read Sunday (2 Corinthians 8:7-15). He says they excel in faith, speech, knowledge, eagerness, and being loved. That's quite a list. If someone as known for his directness and honesty as Paul wrote that to our church, I'd feel pretty good about us. Even with all those accolades, however, Paul had another goal for the Corinthians.
Like a coach or instructor who says, "You are doing these 5 things really well, but there's one area that you could work on and become even better," Paul suggests the Corinthians can give a little more. In fact, it is their financially generosity that he wants them to improve.
As a whole, we're a quite generous church. We are doing well with our giving this year. We look for ways to support ministries and agencies in our community and beyond. We hear of a need and seek to meet it. It is a relief and joy that I don't have to plead with you to give. I certainly hope and expect that that will continue. But, reading Paul this week, each of us might all do well to take a few moments to consider, "Am I reaching excellence in my generosity?" And, for our church leaders, as we're working to build the 2019 budget, we might ask the same question of our church budget.
I'm grateful that for years now we've given around 15% of our receipts each year to support ministries beyond our local church - well more than a tithe. I don't know what Paul would label, "excellence in generosity," but I feel like we are headed in that direction. Thank you for being a church that strives for excellence in all things.