Did you know that giving can be exciting? It certainly is! It’s like a competition to out give God. We give and God provides. We sow into our local church and God sows into our lives. God’s blessings are not always financial, but they are always greater than what we expect. A good example of this in 2 Corinthians 8:1-16.
In this passage, Paul introduces the concept of giving under grace instead of under the law. The idea of tithing to support the work of ministry seems legalistic until a person understands it as a grace-a gift God grants His children so they might abound in good works.
Paul reminds the Corinthians about their promise to take up an offering for the church in Jerusalem. The Corinthians made a promise to take up a collection, but they “forgot” about their promise. Grace giving is steadfast. Paul urged the Corinthians to not only start well but to finish with the same enthusiasm. (Pause)
Grace giving is sacrificial. Paul uses the example of the Macedonians to motivate the Corinthians to give generously. The Macedonians were in affliction and deep poverty, yet they gave joyfully and liberally. The poor are often more generous than the rich, perhaps because, in relying on God for their daily bread, they learn that whatever is theirs belongs to Him.
Grace giving is spontaneous; it is not done out of obligation or a sense of “oughtness” but as a natural outpouring of God’s love in a person’s heart. Paul reiterates this in 2 Corinthians 8:8, where he tells the Corinthians he is not commanding them to give but rather expecting that the sincerity of their love will prompt them to give freely and beyond their ability, just like the Macedonians had.
Grace giving is selfless. Selflessness undergirds the entirety of the resources God entrusts to His people. For experiencing the joy of giving and a heightened awareness of God’s provision, the best giving is selfless giving.
Grace giving is systematic. Paul commands the Corinthians to abound in this grace, implying a framework in which to grow. Giving can be spontaneous, but throughout the New Testament there are also instances of planned giving by the church and by individuals. A system of giving begins with a commitment to give. Those who wait to begin giving until they can afford to do so will never begin.
Grace giving is spiritual. Paul knew that the Corinthians valued the virtues of faith, speech, knowledge, godly living and love for the apostles. Grace giving should join that list. To Paul, stewardship was a spiritual exercise just as faith is.
Grace giving is sincere, reflecting the believer’s sincere love for God and desire to advance the ministry of His church. God does not need the gifts of the faithful to accomplish His work, but He does generously allow those gifts to be used towards that end.
Grace-giving is more a matter of the heart than of circumstances. The Macedonians were poor, so it would have been logical and understandable for them to concentrate on their own needs. To almost everyone’s surprise they gave a generous offering despite their circumstances. It is like the New Testament story about the widow who only gave two coins to the temple treasury. She gave out of her heart, just like the Macedonians did. Their giving was sacrificial and joyful.
Grace giving shares with others. The purpose of God’s wonderful program of stewardship is that the needs of the body and the needs of the world might be met with equality. The one who has much can share much; the one who has little is able to share that little. But as God’s people share in proportion to what God has entrusted them with, the needs of the whole body are met.
Giving might be fun and exciting, but it isn’t easy. It’s a struggle because the devil doesn’t want us to be blessed. Satan knows that if we live generous lives, God will bless it. God blesses the giver, and He knows we will continue to use His blessings to bless others.
We don’t have to give only money. We can give of ourselves by volunteering or helping a neighbour or helping someone who is in a hospital or a nursing home. The important thing is not what we give or how much we give or how often we give. The important thing is that we give willingly. We are encouraged to make others’ needs our own and help them. By doing so we are imitating Jesus-and that is what He wants us to do as Christians in our world.
When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ our service will be judged not by how much we did but by how much we could have done. In God’s sight, our giving is measured not by how much we have given but by how much we could have given and how much we had left after we made out gifts. The only way we can pass God’s judgment is to remember that everything we are and everything we have comes from God. As the old Thanksgiving hymn goes:
All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above.
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love.
Then we must ask Him to help us to be generous, and then use our resources wisely for His glory. Jesus gave away everything He had-even His life. If we all live lives of selflessness and generosity like Jesus did, and if all of us gave something to churches and other ministries, we could feed thousands, share the Gospel to everyone and be a shining beacon of light.