There was a Generosity Campaign in the first century. Among the Christians living in Jerusalem there was a famine that hit and as a result the Christians were in need. So Paul wrote to the churches and told them of the need and invites them to give. One of these was Corinth. Corinth was a wealthy church. And it turns out they were one of the first churches to say they would give over and above their weekly giving to the church. The problem was after a year the Corinthian Christians still had not given anything to this offering. So Paul wrote his second letter and in chs 8-9 appeals to them to give over and above offerings to help meet this need in Jerusalem.
In 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 we discover four principles for grace giving:
Principle #1: Give what you’re willing to give.
Biblical giving is always voluntary. God does not want you to give and we do not want you to give if you don’t want to give. God loves a willing, cheerful giver.
The Corinthians had the desire to give. They heard of the need and said, “You can count on us.” They were compelled by the need to give. Yet 1 year later and they still had not followed through on their giving. Look at what Paul says, v.10 And in this matter (of giving) I give my judgment this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also the desire to do it Up to this point they were almost givers. They had the desire to give and were willing to give but they still hadn’t given. They were almost givers.
Paul tells them in v.11 So now finish doing it as well so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. It’s as if Paul is saying, Don’t almost give. Almost giving is not giving at all. Put your money where your mouth is and give. Follow thru on what you said you would do. It’s a matter of integrity.
In high school I said I wanted to run track. So I went out for track and made the team. But then we had to run a lot - surprise it’s track. And I was like, “Man this is hard.” I wanted to quit. But my Dad said, “You don’t have to go out next year. But this year since you gave your word you must finish what you start even when it hurts.”
When it comes to giving, we must give what we are willing to give.
Principle #2: Give from what you have, not from what you don’t have.
Look at v.12 For if the readiness/ willingness is there it is acceptable (to God) according to what a person has not according to what he does not have. The Willingness to give combined with actually giving from what God has given you = acceptable to God.
Sometimes I hear people say if I only had more money then I would give more. I question whether that would really happen anyway. God isn’t concerned with what you would do if you had more to give, he wants to know what are you doing with what he has given you today? We are stewards who must give an account for what we have been given, including our money.
Principle #3: Give an equal sacrifice, not equal amounts.
If you were going to draw a picture to describe verses 13-15, it would be a balance scale. The picture is the scale in the body of Christ out of balance. Some have more and some have less and Paul is saying if you have more resources and others have less the goal is equal sacrifice not equal amounts giving to balance the scale.
Look at v.13 I do not mean that that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness or equality your abundance today should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need.
The Corinthian Church was wealthy. They lived at the Crossroads of the ancient world and it was a wealthy church. And what Paul is not saying that you should give away what you have so that you are burdened so that they become rich. NO. The principle is equal sacrifice not equal giving.
Paul illustrates this principle in v.15 Paul says As it is written, Whoever gathered much had nothing left over and whoever gathered little had no lack. What’s that? In Ex.16:18 After God’s people came out of Egypt and thru the Red Sea they wandered in the desert. They needed food to eat. God provided manna from heaven each morning and he said each day each family is to go out and take what they need for each person in their family. God provided manna and each sacrificed to get what they needed and all their needs were met equally. What’s interesting if anyone tried to take more than they needed and horde it it spoiled and got maggots in it. Same with our money God gives it not to horde it but to meet our needs and to meet the needs in the body of Christ.
God gives us what we need to help meet the needs of others in the body of Christ. Give an equal sacrifice not an equal amount.
Principle #4: Give with a spirit of reciprocity.
In v.14 Paul says your abundance at the present time should supply their need so that their abundance may supply your need that there may be fairness.
In other words, today you have plenty and can give more to the needs in the body of Christ, but sometime down the road you may have a need that the others in the body of Christ can meet. That’s the spirit of reciprocity.
In the body of Christ we have everything we need. And we are dependent on the LORD and each other. He has put us in community together and sometimes we need to be on the receiving end and sometimes on the giving end. We are interdependent upon each other. We need each other. We are not independent beings, we are mutually dependent on each other in the family of God.
And in order to give with a spirit of reciprocity, we must remember the grace of God. v.9 For you know the grace our LORD Jesus Christ that though he was rich yet for your sake became poor so that you by his poverty might become rich.
May God's grace enable us to excel in giving!
More in Thoughts from our Pastors
August 23, 2019Refreshment needed
May 2, 2019Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation - What's the Difference?
March 15, 20197 Questions to Ask about the Gray Areas in Your Life