One of the hallmarks of a Christian overwhelmed by God’s grace is a generous, giving spirit—and it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has a great deal to give!
I’m blessed to serve as pastor of a people who are generous, yet I don’t think anyone in the church could be classified as wealthy. Our church is comprised of widows, folks in their retirement years, and people employed largely in manufacturing-type jobs. Yet, best as I can tell, they give according to the principles found in 2 Corinthians 9.
This chapter is part of a larger discussion on the subject of giving that began in 8:1. Admittedly, it’s not concerned primarily with the regular, systematic giving vital to maintaining a local church ministry. Paul is addressing the serious financial needs of the church in Jerusalem and asking God’s people in Corinth to give a “benevolence” offering to help alleviate those needs. Regardless of the focus of the offering requested, there are some “giving principles” that could challenge us even in our regular financial contributions to our local church. Let’s note some of these.
First, the extent of our blessing is tied to the depth of our generosity (v. 6).
The farmer who doesn’t want to invest too much money in seed can’t expect to experience a bumper crop! Likewise, the person who has plenty of discretionary funds, but is very stingy with them can’t expect the Lord to pour out His blessings. Note: the existence of “plenty of discretionary funds” doesn’t equal God’s blessing!
Second, the level of giving is not legislated, but is personally decided (v. 7a).
I once heard an evangelist speaking to pastors, telling them that they ought to know exactly what their people are giving on a weekly basis. That way, he argued, if the giving drops, the pastor will know there’s a problem and he can confront them. Frankly, that ranks as about the worst piece of advice I’ve ever heard for a host of reasons, but not the least of which is it would violate this principle. It’s not my place as a pastor to strong-arm anyone into giving; and honestly, I don’t want people to give because they think they have to in order to keep me happy!
the amount given, it should come from a willing, cheerful
heart (v. 7b).
Ever been in a church service where you felt coerced or manipulated into giving? I’ve listened as a pastor recounts some incredibly moving story, playing on everyone’s emotions, and then urges people to give. I wonder how many gave what they didn’t have and then later regretted it.
Fourth, the person who gives according to the above three principles finds God to be faithful to meet his needs (v. 8).
In our church, we regularly have testimony time in the Sunday evening service. Often, the theme of a testimony centers on this principle. Oh, the person doesn’t talk about what he or she gave, but does share how God faithfully supplies. Indeed, He does.
As one who has been the recipient of God’s glad generosity, develop a generous, giving spirit as well.