Giving … it can be a touchy subject, but the Bible often takes up the topic. Even to the point that Paul confronts some of the churches to whom his letters are addressed about their giving. One such instance is found in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, chapter nine and verses six through fifteen:
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for
you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
As Matthew Henry observes, “Here we have, proper directions to be observed about the right and acceptable manner of bestowing charity; and it is of great concernment that we not only do what is required, but do it as is commanded.”
So as you are prayerfully filling out your 2014 Giving Commitment sheets please consider these proper directions:
- Our giving should be done bountifully (verse 6). If you want a good harvest then you have to generously sow the seed. Those who sow little should expect little in return, while those who sow much should expect much in return. Imagine the joy and blessings that await those who invest in God’s eternal kingdom rather that their own quickly fading one. Do you cherish the blessings of heaven or earth? What does your giving communicate?
- Our giving should be done deliberately (verse 7a). Sowing bountifully does not usually happen by accident, and when it does it is not often accompanied by joy but by regret. Yet when our giving is arrived at by thought and design we choose to live in obedience and to act in faith (believing principles such as: it is better to give than receive). Paul does not tell them how much to give but leaves this to be a matter between God and them. And so our thoughts and designs in giving also must be a matter of obedience to God and faith in God, not in Paul or our pastors. What does obedience to God look like in your giving? What does faith in God look like in your giving?
- Our giving should be done freely (verse 7b). Meaning that our giving is not given because we were asked to give or because we felt compelled by the morals of society to give. We should want to give, cheerfully give, with an open hand and happy heart. Picture Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of The Christmas Carol and you are just beginning to understand. Scrooge’s generosity only flows from the joy of Christmas, but ours flows from a much greater, much higher, much stronger, much more amazing and real and glorious source than any mere Christmas spirit. How paradoxical is the thought of a stingy Christian and yet our society abounds with such professing people. The average Christian’s giving in USA is approximately 2%. This would indicate a fist holding tightly than a hand open freely. We must always be wary of the American Dream influencing our giving more than the gospel and God’s kingdom.
- Our bountiful, deliberate, free giving will result in: (A) the giver being no loser, since he does what pleases God (verse 7b) and believes God can work his giving to his own advantage, just as is serves others (verses 8-11). (B) the needs of the saints being met (verses 12a, 13b) since they partake of the giver’s generosity. (C) the name of God being glorified (verses 11b, 12b, 13a, 15) since it is ultimately God’s surpassing grace made evident through the giver to the needy saints. Thanksgiving expressed to God from the lips of those who gave and the lips of who received because of his inexpressible gift to them all, as Matthew Henry wrote, “Jesus Christ, who is indeed the unspeakable gift of God unto this world, a gift we have all reason to be very thankful for.”
The Bible consistently teaches that believers ought to give both purposefully and sacrificially:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Co 9:6-7)
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, (2 Co 8:1-3)
In light of this, we want to encourage every member of our church family to prayerfully consider how much the Lord would have them to give in 2014.
[1,2] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2288). Peabody: Hendrickson.