In my last article, we considered spending time in devotion and
service to God by giving. In giving, we turn our financial efforts
into service and devotion to God by constantly working in service
to Him by the sweat of our brow.
Throughout II Corinthians 8-9, Paul focuses upon the heart of individual
givers. In II Corinthians 8:2 Paul notes the joy of the Macedonians
as they gave beyond their ability. It seems an oxymoron that people
could be in joyful affliction, but so was the case in Macedonia.
Although they were afflicted in giving beyond their ability, it
was joy for them to give. Because, they were giving from a true
and honest heart by first giving themselves to the Lord (II Cor.
8:5). So we have the very beginning of Paul's teaching focused upon
giving with the proper attitude.
In II Corinthians 9:5, Paul points out two types of givers. There
are those who give out of generosity and those who give out of grudging
obligation. As you would guess, the one giving grudgingly is the
one who gives the bear minimum. Of this Paul says: "He who
sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully
will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes
in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful
giver." (II Cor. 9:6-7)
Paul compares the grudging giver to the one who sows sparingly.
Everyone knows that we cannot reap if we do not sow. So it is with
God and spiritual sowing. The one who sows little reaps little,
and the one who sows much reaps much. Therefore, we should be liberal
givers so that we are bountiful in our work for the Lord. But, God
is not necessarily promising earthly wealth for those who give liberally
Although prosperity is a popular message preached today, notice
that those who are "generous" givers will not necessarily
be rich in earthly wealth. Some have preached this message in order
to entice people to give more money. Paul says in II Corinthians
9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward to you,
that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance
for every good work." Paul says that we will have the sufficiency
for the work - not abundant wealth to eat, drink, and be merry.
If we determine to do the work, God will supply the means, but
the means is not to be squandered on luxurious living. God supplies
us richly so that we may be liberal givers. In II Corinthians 9:10-11
Paul says: "Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and
bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase
the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything
for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God."
For what reason are we richly given the seed? So that we may give
(sow) liberally. And, what is the result of our liberality in giving
(sowing)? It causes thanksgiving to be given to God.
This message is far from the "sow a seed - out of debt - diamond
ring" message being shouted from pulpits across this country.
It is more popular to tell people how rich they will be if they
give to God than to tell them that God may give to them so that
they may again, unselfishly, give liberally.
Paul concludes chapter nine and says: "For the administration
of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also
is abounding through many thanksgiving to God, while, through the
proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your
confessing to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing
with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for
you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God
for His indescribable gift!" (II Cor. 9:12-15)
Notice that Paul prescribes the gift to needy saints as coming
from God. Why? Because God is the one who gives to the giver. Therefore,
the giver is really God. When it comes to giving, you can look at
it like this: It is not how much I decide to give back to the Lord,
but how much I decide to keep. You see, whether you give it or keep
it, it is all the Lord's. The Lord has given to us richly, should
we not richly give so that He is glorified through thanksgiving?
This may also be why: "God loves a cheerful giver." (II