At the end of 1 Corinthians, Paul asked the Christians in Corinth to have the funds ready for the famine relief in Judea. When he wrote the letter of 2 Corinthians, he still had not been by to pick up this collection – and he was afraid that they still wouldn’t be ready (read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, especially 2 Corinthians 9:5).
Although this was a one-off collection to help Christians in a country far away, probably Christians they never would meet, there are a number of principles that should be part of our lives as Christians and in particular as Christians who are generous.
Giving is like planting seeds: the more you plant, the more you will harvest. “My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NET).
We realize that if a farmer only plants a few seeds, there will be very little harvest. Instead, he plants row upon row of crops so that at the time of harvesting, he will have an abundant harvest. The same applies to our giving.
Giving is like planting. If we are stingy, we cannot expect much in return. But if we are generous, there will be abundant blessings. Isn’t this what Jesus said in Luke 6:38? – “Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” If we are lacking in blessings, we need to look at how we are giving!
Notice that we must make up our mind how much we are able to give. “Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We are not to feel we are forced to give nor are we to be reluctant. God wants us to make a decision and to be happy with the decision we have made. He wants us to be a “cheerful giver.” This eliminates giving to please someone else or even giving to be seen by others (Jesus dealt with that at the beginning of Matthew 6 and we also see this in what happened to Ananias and Sapphire in Acts 5).
God will bless our giving. “Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-12). We don’t have to worry about going short if we are generous. The same God who provides seed for the farmers will multiply our generosity and enrich us in every way so that we can be even more generous!
The point is, we can’t out-give God. When we realize all that God has given us (because all things we have come from him) and add in the forgiveness and spiritual blessings we have because of Jesus, the real question is why we aren’t more generous?
God has given. We need to be givers. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Readings for next week:
30 May – 2 Corinthians 11
31 May – 2 Corinthians 12-13
1 June – Ephesians 1
2 June – Ephesians 2-3
3 June – Ephesians 4